Our Work

“People are the foundation of the world. If the foundation is firm, then the world will enjoy tranquillity. But three-fourths of the world’s people are underhoused, underclothed, underfed and illiterate. In other words, threefourths of the world’s foundation is weak. Now as long as this continues to be true we have a very poor foundation upon which to build the world. Fortunately, the poor have potential powers for self-development. What they lack is the opportunity to release and develop those powers. Therefore IIRR is in the business of releasing the powers of these hard-working people to attain equity, justice and peace.”

- Dr. Y.C. James Yen

Our work is always guided by the principles of our founder, Dr. Y.C. James Yen.

Working efficiently and collaboratively in a spirit of rural reconstruction, we facilitate reflective and transparent processes. We invest in approaches and technologies that enable communities to increase control over their lives.

Learning community approach

The learning community concept builds on the rural reconstruction's credo, which promotes going to the people, learning from them, planning with them, and building on what people know. Together with our local development partners, we learn and jointly incubate new anti-poverty reduction models.

Community-led and managed approach

Interventions are designed to allow communities to take control and engage actively. It is often a combination of “technical know-how” from the resource of outsiders and “practical do-how” of local communities.

Scaling up knowledge

Lessons learned and knowledge from programs are strategically scaled to reach more communities, governments and development actors for a wider adoption.

Building a community of practice

Effective scaling up also entails developing local leaders and experts within and outside the learning communities, who would provide the human resource necessary to bring the knowledge, experiences and benefits of development innovations to more communities more quickly.
We ensure that our results address the global challenges related to poverty, inequality, education, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, peace and justice.

We believe that poverty is interlocking with no simple solutions. To deliver our services, we keep in mind the value of these approaches:


Partnerships and collaboration

Community-Managed Approach
Integrated and holistic development
Unleash the potential of women and youth
Developing models in learning communities
Our programs are designed to directly support the accomplishment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 17 goals, particularly on Goal #1 No Poverty.

Flagship programs

Education for all

IIRR and their partners focus efforts on ensuring access to education and improving the quality of that education. IIRR firmly believes that education is a human right, not a privilege for wealthier populations.


Malnutrition, teenage pregnancy, widespread disease and insufficient access to medical care are some of the many rural issues globally. IIRR works to address these issues in the rural communities of Asia and Africa.

Environment and Livelihoods

Rural communities depend on natural resources for food, shelter and livelihood. IIRR works to ensure sustainable management and access to land and water resources for these communities.

We currently have strong anti-poverty programs in three countries in Southeast Asia (Philippines, Cambodia, and Myanmar) and five countries within Eastern and Southern Africa (Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, South Sudan, and Zimbabwe).

We are collaborating with more than 300 organizations and local development partners to help the rural poor achieve a better life for themselves and their children.

Global Learning Program

IIRR continues to be an international training and enabling institution of choice for development practitioners, backed by more than 60 years field practice and experience in Asia and Africa. Since the first training program in 1965, IIRR’s training courses continue to evolve with time.