How We Work

Our approach is guided by our deep-rooted development philosophy and principles which are humanistic and people-centered. We believe that people are the foundation of the world and development. So we “Go to the people, learn from them, plan with them, start with what they know and build on what they have . . .” – IIRR Credo

By working with people we learn that the foundation is weakened by inequality and injustices which are caused by poverty, illiteracy, ill-health and miss-governance. Because these problems are interlocking, we work collaboratively with our communities and development partners to apply integrated solutions as guided by our founder Dr. James Yen’s teaching: “Not odds and ends but a system; not piecemeal but an integrated approach.”

It is by focusing in youth and women that we aim to address the broader problems of communities. Our strongest argument for our focus in these groups is the conviction of our founder: “Time is pressing – the old ones are too old and the little ones are too little. The middle group- the youth group- is most strategic. They will be the leaders of the country, for good or for ill.” – Dr. James Yen.”

We work in Learning Community that is a programmatic approach where a group of people with shared geography, interests, values or aspirations, actively engage in learning together to find innovative solutions to problems or to attain common goals. In this setup, practical development approaches are developed, validated and tested. IIRR and local partners undertake action research to learn together and incubate poverty reduction models. Our approach will be innovative, inclusive and sustainable. In our food security and resilient program, we deliberately choose environmentally and climate smart approaches and we ensure no one is left out. Men, women, elderly, children, youth (girls and boys) and people with disabilities actively participate and benefit from the development process.

We are strong advocates of partnership to speed up the development process where we lead. We lead from behind but the people who are affected most and who are most knowledgeable are actively engaged and they take control. So partnerships are central to IIRR’s success in its development work. But our partnership model is where we are partners, not leaders. We believe in “Outsiders can help but insiders must do the job” – Dr. Yen. This partnership is based on our core values of mutual respect, mutual trust, mutual knowledge and mutual help. IIRR’s “technical know-how” complements the community’s “practical do-how” of local experts. The result is communities claim ownership of their own development process and take pride in it. It is through partnership that IIRR replicates and scales out/up the models tested in learning communities.

Knowledge management (generation, packaging and widely sharing of knowledge) is another important approach of IIRR. For decades, IIRR has served as a knowledge hub for distilling, packaging, and disseminating knowledge. In many instances,we have also played a role as conveners, where we bring together diverse groups to document and to package their own lessons. We focus on producing agents of learning instead of agents of change. An important aspect of IIRR’s learning approach is through action research with communities. Development work must satisfy three important requirements: it is effective and has impact; contributes to building the capacities of development and; contributes to the body of knowledge on programs.

To scale out/up, IIRR identifies initiatives and technologies that have worked well in one country or region, and replicates it in another country or region. The role of replication and scaling out/up is a shared responsibility between IIRR and development actors. Simple and low cost methods – organizing exchange visits or conducting training to trainers – are adopted to ensure a wide-scale replication.

All our efforts aim at “not relief but release”.