International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR)
The International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) has over 95 years of experience in empowering communities to overcome poverty. Led by their founder Dr. Y.C. James Yen, since early 1920s, their 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, they have continued to empower the rural poor to end poverty in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
They use innovative approaches that are integrated, people-centered and sustainable; the process they pioneered since early 20’s when these concepts were little known to development community. This philosophy of development guides all their work; they do not offer handouts. They offer education and capacity building so that community members and their local organizations can enact changes relevant to them. Their core tenet at IIRR is to develop sustainable and effective solutions to poverty reduction by working with and learning from local communities. They believe in “outsiders can help, but insiders must do the job”.
They 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, they work in collaboration with more than 125 local development partners, and all their 140 staff members are nationals of these countries.
They are a United States-based 501(c) (3) private voluntary organization with a small office in New York City, but they operate their headquarters from the global south, the Philippines. These are the deliberate choices they made to be closer to the people they work with and which make their work relevant and cost effective.
They know poverty is interlocking and no single solution can be prescribed for it. That is the reason they implement integrated and holistic programs. Their 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.
Evidence based impact of their work is demonstrated in Food Security and Resilient Livelihoods, Education for Marginalized communities, Disaster Risk Reduction and Collaborative Leadership through Global Learning and Sharing. They track impact of their work though pathways of change -a tool they have developed. It is built around a concept of tracing change by asking simple questions of: “so what happened”? In addition to social and economic gains that make significant differences in the lives of individual, households and communities, their pathways of change will track changes in attitude, behavior and practice.