“Not Relief But Release”

about-us

We have over 95 years of experience in empowering communities to overcome poverty.  Led by our founder Dr. Y.C. James Yen, since early 1920s, our predecessor the Chinese Mass Education Movement was responsible for changing, for better, and the lives of over 200 million Chinese peasants through the power of functional literacy.  Since IIRR was formally organized as an international development, training, and research organization in 1960 in the Philippines, we have continued to empower the rural poor to end poverty in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

We use innovative approaches that are integrated, people-centered and sustainable; the process we pioneered since early 20’s when these concepts were little known to development community. This philosophy of development guides all our work; we do not offer handouts. We offer education and capacity building so that community members and their local organizations can enact changes relevant to them. Our core tenet at IIRR is to develop sustainable and effective solutions to poverty reduction by working with and learning from local communities.  We believe in “outsiders can help, but insiders must do the job”.

We have strong anti-poverty programs in eight (8) countries in Southeast Asia (Philippines, Cambodia and Myanmar) and Eastern and Southern Africa (Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, South Sudan and Zimbabwe).  In these countries and regions, we work in collaboration with more than 125 local development partners, and all our 140 staff members are nationals of these countries.

We are a United States-based 501(c) (3) private voluntary organization with a small office in New York City, but we operate our headquarters from the global south, the Philippines. These are the deliberate choices we made to be closer to the people we work with and which make our work relevant and cost effective.

We know poverty is interlocking and no single solution can be prescribed for it. That is the reason we implement integrated and holistic programs. Our areas of impact are: Education for Marginalized Communities; Food Security and Resilient Livelihoods; Community Driven and Managed Disaster Risk Reduction and; Building Collaborative Leadership through Global Learning and Sharing.