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.

Half of all unemployed people in Brazil are under 25. Youth unemployment is over 40 percent in northeastern Brazil and even higher among young women and the poor. With many Brazilians living in precarious social and economic conditions, it will be difficult to break the cycle of poverty without investing in youth.

For decades, human trafficking for sexual exploitation in Brazil was viewed as an isolated phenomenon, not a systemic problem. The lack of visibility made it difficult for victims to identify those who could help. It also made it hard for organizations that wanted to help to collaborate with each other.

People from the semi-arid “backlands” of Brazil’s northeast are known for their persistence in eking a living out of a nearly barren land, where severe droughts force them to relocate about once each decade. Farmers produce beans and manioc, a plant with an edible starchy root, or tend the cattle of wealthier landowners for negligible pay. In a land where eating beef is the symbol of success, the farmers can almost never afford it.

Purei was recently elected head of the Indigenous People’s Association of the Uru-eu-wau-wau, a tribe also known as the Jupaú. As association head, the 25-year-old made his first trip from a remote part of the Amazonian state of Rondônia to São Paulo, Brazil’s megalopolis, where he participated in the Indigenous Markets Fair. His purpose was to show wholesalers the forest products his people are producing under guidance from a USAID-sponsored program.

Brazil’s Atlantic Forest region accounts for 80 percent of the country’s GDP, hosts 70 percent of its population, and has lost over 90 percent of its original forest cover. The forest was once a continuous stretch of tropical and subtropical rainforest covering almost 1.4 million square kilometers. Today, it exists in isolated fragments threatened by illegal logging, poaching, deforestation, and urban and industrial development.

There is a small agriculture cooperative in the Brazilian Amazonthat has big dreams. Founded by Japanese immigrants in Tomé-Açu in 1931, the Cooperativa Agricola Mistade Tomé-Açu (CAMTA) produces pulp from tropical fruits, such as the açaí berry. With 117 members, the cooperative is one of the many small-producer clusters that, with help from USAID, has been developing export and trade links. Located near the coast of northern Brazil, Tomé-Açu is as close to São Paulo as it is to Miami.

An estimated 12 million Brazilians lack access to electricity, many of whom live in remote areas of the Amazon rainforest. In recent years, a government program has linked an impressive 1.5 million Brazilians to electricity through grid extension. But as it reaches more remote areas, grid extension becomes more expensive and serves fewer people.

One Friday in July, the residents of Padilla, a remote town in southern rural Bolivia, began their day with a little more spice than usual. It was the first day of their fourth annual International Red Chili Pepper Festival. The event attracted local producers and their families, owners of trade firms, and entrepreneurs from neighboring Argentina and Peru, who gathered together to make contacts and explore business opportunities. As a result, farmers sealed new deals to sell one hundred tons of Bolivian red chili peppers, with a total value of more than $100,000.

Wilma Rocha is a well-respected member of the Nueva Esperanza (New Hope) Mothers’ Club, a community-based organization in the city of El Alto, one of Bolivia’s most conflict-ridden and poorest cities.


Last updated: February 22, 2017