Partnerships are central for IIRR’s success in its development work. Our primary partners are communities affected by poverty. At IIRR, we believe that these communities have the knowledge and skills to solve their own problems with minimal external assistance. They need a catalyst, however, and that’s where we come in.
In our work with communities, we adhere to the teachings of our founder, Dr. James Yen, who said that outsiders can help, but insiders must do the job. We are partners, not leaders. Partnership is based on our core values of mutual respect, mutual trust, mutual knowledge, and mutual help.
Even before 1960, when IIRR was formally established, its predecessor organizations pursued its poverty reduction goal through collaborative work. In the 1960s and 1970s, IIRR focused its attention on forming and strengthening people’s organizations, rural reconstruction movements, and training associations around the world. Development actors have come to realize that no single organization can work in isolation as long as the needs of the communities that they serve remain many and diverse. IIRR is part of this global community.
There are distinctive advantages of working with community members and grassroots partners. While IIRR staff may contribute “technical know-how”, the community brings “practical do-how” to the partnership. Thus, we work to complement each other’s skill sets. The community members and local partners also bring local traditional knowledge and expertise that contribute to sustainability and keep the agency of IIRR’s beneficiaries central to the conversation.