Transforming Lives

Every day, all over the world, USAID brings peace to those who endure violence, health to those who struggle with sickness, and prosperity to those who live in poverty. It is these individuals — these uncounted thousands of lives — that are the true measure of USAID’s successes and the true face of USAID's programs.

Afghan journalists work in an uncertain political, legal, and regulatory environment, which can have a chilling effect on media content and open and fair discussion about social and political issues. Journalists often find themselves carefully negotiating complex issues attracting all range of legal threats.

Afghanistan is an overwhelmingly rural country. More than 80 percent of Afghans live in farming villages, and 75 percent of all residents depend on arable land for their livelihoods. When asked about land, subsistence farmers talk about crop yields. Farmers who have been able to move past subsistence agriculture often see land as an asset in its own right.

Snowmelt and rain swell the Murghab River in the months of April, May, and June, raising the water velocity to three times its normally placid rate. These surges, capable of filling an Olympic-sized swimming pool every 23 seconds, help neighboring Turkmenistan provide local power along the river valley border with Afghanistan. However, in northern Badghis Province, the same floodwaters overrun fragile canals, stripping topsoil from farmland and devastating crops.

In Afghanistan, less attention and resources are provided to national, district, and specialty hospitals due to the high costs of service provision and the need for substantial investment, both of which are unaffordable for the Afghan government. As a result, access to quality hospital services is lacking and an increasing number of Afghans seek treatment in hospitals abroad, particularly in Pakistan, India, and Turkey. A recent study found that an estimated $27 million per year flows out of the country from patients seeking care in India alone.

"For me and for other Afghan engineers, this project was like a university," explains Engineer Mohammad Ashraf, as he surveys the construction materials and testing equipment that line the shelves of Kabul’s Central Laboratory. After eight years of service on a USAID road development initiative that operates the lab, Ashraf is leaving in order to set up on his own.

Afghan youth participate in debates and learn about issues facing the country and how their members of parliament are responding. Young people in Afghanistan have witnessed historic change in their country. Many youth participated in get-out-the-vote campaigns or voted for the first time during the 2010 parliamentary elections. Youth represent a key segment of society that is demanding action from their government and accountability on the part of their elected officials.

Three decades of war in Afghanistan, exaccerbated by poverty, poor infrastructure, and difficult geography, have inhibited the growth of essential services, the commercial sector and, notably, media and communications. While the social media increasingly connects individuals and communities locally, regionally, and internationally in neighboring countries, rural, provincial, and urban communities in Afghanistan are still isolated by a lack of modern communications. Women, in particular, still face many social restrictions on what they can do and where they can go, and for the disabled, there are access limitations.

Working closely with the Hirat Department of Water Supply, USAID conceived a project to complete certain segments of an unfinished water distribution network that had lost its original donor. Using USAID funding, the project will give thousands in Injil access to water and will provide work and income for more than 330 laborers.

Ghulam Farooq Ahmadzada has always fought for causes in which he believes.  Thirty years ago, he joined the mujahedeen against the Soviets and then fought in the Afghan civil war.  Now he’s fighting against the Taliban–without guns.  Ahmadzada heads a cooperative of 150 farmers in Palezai.  Cooperatives let farmers share resources while presenting a united front against those threatening their lives and livelihoods.


Last updated: January 08, 2015