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.

In Gabala, a village in Egypt's Fayoum governorate, cows and buffalo were generally unhealthy and suffered from high death rates due to a lack of vaccinations and imbalanced feeding. Rations given to the animals during their fattening period consisted only of ready-made pellets and some ground corn. This lack of protein limited their daily weight gain to about 1 kilogram a day, extending the fattening period from a standard five months to six or seven months. Farmers also used to purchase their animals from the market not knowing their exact weight and not relying on specific criteria.

When USAID helped start Egypt’s first HIV/AIDS program in 1997, little was known about the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Egypt. The program aimed to strengthen the capacity and infrastructure of public and private organizations in areas such as voluntary counseling and testing, behavioral surveillance surveys, outreach to at-risk groups, and providing care for those living with HIV. As local capacity to implement effective HIV/AIDS strategies has grown, USAID strives to ensure that the knowledge and experience acquired there can be used to help other countries develop the capacity to fight HIV/AIDS

The Shoubra El Kheima area north of Cairo is severely polluted due to decades of hazardous emissions from metal smelters and foundries, including lead, arsenic, and mercury. Before USAID’s involvement, these industries produced more than 30 times the international limits, threatening the health of the local population. Yet surveys showed that most residents were unaware of the dangers, especially from lead, a powerful neurotoxin that is particularly harmful to children.

In the Middle East and North Africa region, religious leaders are essential actors in a successful response to HIV/AIDS as they have legitimacy and a durable presence in local communities. They are uniquely positioned to increase awareness of routes of transmission, reduce the stigma and discrimination attached to HIV/AIDS and reinforce the religious values found in both regionally dominant religions, Islam and Christianity. While conservative social norms have kept the rates of HIV/AIDS infection down, they may also be responsible for the lack of prevention because taboos prevent frank discussion of prevention methods and stand in the way of testing and medical treatment.

USAID supports the Government of Egypt's neonatal and safe motherhood programs by establishing essential obstetric care and neonatal services in public hospitals in nine Upper Egypt governorates. The Healthy Mother/Healthy Child project involves upgrading delivery and operating rooms, as well as neonatal units of general and district hospitals, where women are admitted with life threatening emergencies related to childbirth. These activities have saved the lives of thousands of Egyptian women and babies.

El Shahid Ahmed Shaalan Primary School, in the heavily industrialized area of East Shoubra El-Kheima, has approximately 750 pupils between ages 5 and 12. USAID assisted the government of Egypt in closing down polluting industries that caused serious health hazards in the neighborhood. A related, second USAID-funded project identified the school as a polluted site that posed serious health hazards due to the presence of lead and other heavy metals from the nearby closed industries.

Before receiving support from a USAID project, employees in the Alexandria and Mansoura Courts of First Instance’s typing pool would receive from the judges handwritten decisions, which they would type on manual typewriters and have reviewed by the judges prior to signing. This laborious process slowed the adjudication of cases because errors meant documents required a complete retyping on antiquated equipment.

Farming families in the Mantaro valley of Peru’s central Junin region have been cultivating crops like potatoes and grains for centuries. So, when USAID suggested that some switch to a new crop, the farmers were curious to learn more. 

Agriculture is the way of life for many Andean communities, and the mountainous region of Ayacucho is no exception. Farmers there cultivate lands that depend mostly on rainfall for water. Yet in recent years, droughts have been occurring more frequently in the region, creating a demand for irrigation water. Moreover, since the farmers depend on rainfall, this usually limits them to cultivating just one crop each year, making it impossible for farmers to meet local demand for grains and produce.

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Last updated: January 12, 2015