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.

The southern state of Rivas is the traditional home for Nicaragua’s plantain fields, where more than 50,000 acres are under cultivation. But neglected fields produced small yields and undersized fruit. And in recent years, local prices have declined, making the U.S. market — with a sales potential of 12 million pounds a year worth $3 million — an attractive alternative that could increase local incomes and provide more jobs.

When Ingrid Cornejo sips a cup of coffee she is now likely to use words like "citric," "chocolaty" or "herbal" to describe the flavor. She also can describe a bad cup of coffee. "If it has a taste like dirt, fermentation, mold or medicine, it's defective."

These are just two of the new skills that Ingrid learned during a USAID-supported course that trained 20 young farmers as junior cuppers — specialists in evaluating the taste and aroma of coffee.

The Rio Lama cattle ranch, located 110 miles northeast of Managua, recently celebrated the birth of its first "organic" calves. Forty-three Nicaraguan cattle ranches, including Rio Lama, now have pastures that have been certified as organic by the International Agriculture and Cattle Organization. The ranch is owned by Daniel Nunez, president of the National Cattle Raising Commission of Nicaragua and a pioneer in promoting organic meat as an excellent market opportunity for Nicaraguan ranchers.

A couple occupies the corner of a room in the emergency department at Zanoel Adidin Hospital in Banda Aceh, the provincial capital of Indonesia's Aceh Province. The young woman on the cot is hooked up to an intravenous drip, and her husband sits on the floor. They speak to each other tenderly as they eat lunch.

The community of El Naranjo, located in the northern coffee-growing region of Madriz, now has a preschool, thanks to a donation by the San Juan del Rio Coco Cooperatives Union.

The members of the Araya family have been farming all their lives. On their 50-hectare farm they have planted a range of different crops — corn, sorghum and sesame. But these low-value products brought little return for the hard-working family. When USAID asked the Arayas if they would like to grow okra for export to the United States, they did not hesitate.

USAID is supporting a program to build Nicaraguan trade by helping thousands of producers like the Arayas diversify crops, improve quality and gain new markets.

Ulises Gonzalez is the co-owner and general manager of Lacteos Santa Martha, a family dairy in Jinotega, a town in the mountainous northern region of Nicaragua. Once a small operation, the dairy now produces a wide range of products — white cheese, string cheese, dulce de leche, manchego — thanks to a USAID capacity building program.

Nicaraguans receive an average of only 4.6 years of schooling in their lives, and just 2.1 if they live in poor, rural areas. Nearly 500,000 children between 3 and 12 are receiving no schooling whatsoever. Increasing access to quality, primary education for all children is vital to Nicaragua’s social and economic development.

Nicaragua's Criminal Procedures Code had not been changed since it was originally established in 1879. This code gave judges alone the principal responsibility for investigating and prosecuting crimes. All evidence was required to be presented in writing, and people accused of crimes had little or no opportunity to present their defense in court.

The El Gorrión Cooperative, located 100 miles north of Managua in the municipality of Yalí, was founded in 1995 by 30 small-scale coffee producers who joined forces to increase incomes by selling a greater volume of coffee. Over the decade since its founding, El Gorrión grew to include more than 500 members, achieving economic independence and self-sufficiency, and managing no less than one million pounds of raw coffee produced by its members. 

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Last updated: August 07, 2014