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.

This article describes some of the activities of USAID's Gobi Regional Growth Initiative. This project, along with its successor Gobi Regional Growth Initiative II, was implemented by Mercy Corps 1999-2008.

This article describes some of the activities of USAID's Growing Entrepreneurship Rapidly (GER) project, implemented by Global Communities (previously known as CHF International) during 2002-2009.

“We moved to the city to find jobs and be closer to opportunities,” said Suren, one of thousands of Mongolians who in recent years have made the difficult transition from the countryside to life in Mongolia’s capital city - Ulaanbaatar. Several successive harsh winters have accelerated the pace of migration from rural Mongolia to the capital city.

One-year-old Aidana had been sick for some time. Aileta, her mother, thought it was simply a cold. Then early one morning, the child developed a high temperature. Aidana’s breathing appeared to stop and she lost consciousness and became pale. Panicking, Aileta called an ambulance. The closest children’s hospital was 15 minutes away.

Jyldyz was among the first students to take the National Scholarship Test in Kyrgyzstan. When she learned that she received one of the highest scores, Jyldyz’s first thought was of her best friend Aisuluu, who graduated from the same remote village school a year earlier. The best student at her school, Aisuluu had wanted to study at the medical institute to become a doctor. Her dreams were shattered when she learned that she had failed the scholarship exam.

Kyrgyzstan is a mountainous country where only seven percent of the land is suitable for agriculture. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the previous collective farms were privatized among the communities, splitting the land into 0.04-0.20 hectare (.09 - .49 acre) allotments per person.

The yield of many crops also decreased during this transition, mainly due to the absence of agricultural knowledge of the new owners and the loss of markets.

Farmer Salijan Saibidinov owns land alongside an irrigation canal in Jalalabat Province’s Shaidan Village in Kyrgyzstan. Each spring, soon after the growing season began, Sailjan’s neighbors would throw trash onto his field while cleaning debris from the canal. His land also would flood when his neighbors overwatered their fields. Pollution and flooding were affecting farmers’ crop yields. In turn, Salijan reduced the amount of water flowing from the canal, thus causing resentment among his neighbors.

Through the assistance of USAID-funded projects, Kyrgyzstan’s agriculture sector is slowly improving, with farmers generating higher personal incomes and having more opportunities to improve their standard of living.

These days it is not unusual to see a long line of cars waiting to be repaired in the front of mechanic Uson Matysakov’s repair shop in Halmion, southern Kyrgyzstan. In June 2008, Uson transformed a once empty building into a bustling auto repair facility. He now has a thriving business thanks to his entrepreneurial spirit, several highly skilled masters, six eager apprentices and new equipment and tools he acquired through a USAID micro-loan.

Muhabbat almost didn't take the job offer. Her daughter, Shahnoza, had originally agreed to be the health outreach worker with a USAID-sponsored program for internally displaced persons in Osh, Kyrgyzstan.

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Last updated: February 17, 2015