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.

With the help of USAID, Afghans are now able to access higher education opportunities in Tajikistan, its neighbor to the northeast. The joint initiative between the University of Central Asia and USAID fosters cross-border cooperation and employment opportunities between the two countries.

The old Tajik city of Isfara is famous for its apricot orchards. Apricot production is the main source of income for the population of this region, and for years the high productivity allowed exports to countries of the former Soviet Union.

The lure is steady employment and a better life, but the result is often months or years of physical and emotional abuse. It's a modern form of slavery called trafficking — the use of fraud or coercion to recruit, transport, buy and sell human beings — and it entraps as many as four million people each year.

Mayor Aniceto P. Lopez Jr. of Maasim, a town in Sarangani province in Mindanao, had a dream: he wanted his people to become economically productive and lead peaceful lives. He knew that the area’s abundant natural resources could play a major role in helping him achieve this dream. However, the lush forests that once covered the area had all but disappeared, and fields that could have been used for farming had instead served as a battleground between government soldiers and rebels.

In Mindanao, the second-larges island of the Philippines, the minority Muslim population has historically suffered from poverty. The 1960s witnessed the emergence of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), a militant group which fought for greater autonomy for the Muslim minority. In 1996, the MNLF and the Government of the Philippines signed a peace agreement. USAID, along with the Philippine Government and the MNLF, has been working to try to encourage faster economic development in the region to consolidate the peace.

Years ago, the Muntinlupa Market was a muddy and messy public market with acrid odors created by 1,235 stalls selling everything from meat and fish to vegetables. The market’s eateries, toilets, and the stall sections generated wastewater that polluted a tributary creek of Laguna Lake, one of the most vital inland bodies of water in the Philippines and a source of drinking water and freshwater fish for Metro Manila.

For many years, Nasirin “Kah Nas” Taraji and other fishers in the southern Philippine province of Tawi-Tawi occupied one of the area’s best sites for collecting fish with “fish pens” or “corrals”. They enjoyed relatively good yields, but elsewhere in their town, fish catches were declining at a rate fast enough to alarm local officials and the fishing communities.

Population growth, urbanization and industrialization have created enormous pressures on the environment and life support systems upon which all Filipinos depend. Air pollution from vehicles and industry is a major public health concern. Nearly 2.5 million tons of hazardous waste is generated each year, and only forty percent of solid waste is collected while the rest is dumped into waterways and open spaces. Although major legislation on clean air, solid waste, and clean water has been passed, enforcement remains a challenge. Under these conditions, voluntary private initiatives are often the most effective way to reduce pollution and conserve energy.

Bhim Bahadur, a poor farmer in the rural Kaski district of Nepal, had given up hope that his life would ever improve. The yield from his small piece of land earned him so meager an income that he could not support his family of eight. His annual income amounted to just $57.


Last updated: January 12, 2015