When people are displaced by crisis, they often have to leave everything behind. When they return to their homes, they can find that their means of supporting themselves have been destroyed or stolen. The International Rescue Committee works to protect, support and improve household livelihoods and to revitalise local economies.
Knowledge and skills
The IRC works with farmers, entrepreneurs and apprentices to enhance their "know-how" in business and the economy. This can increase incomes, improve job prospects and grow businesses.
In Liberia, the IRC supports two vocational training schools to train students in professions such as electrical engineering, mechanics and agriculture. On graduation we help link students to employment opportunities.
- Services for agricultural businesses, Farmer Field Schools
- Apprenticeships, mentoring,a nd vocational training
- Business, trade and agricultural fairs
- Support for local business service providers
Finance and resources
The IRC works with micro-finance institutions and community-savings associations to increase access for individuals and small and medium enterprises to finance and resources such as credit and investment.
In Burundi the IRC has trained and supported over 1,700 men and women who do not have access to banks, to establish and run savings and loans associations. Projects such as this can increase women’s economic independence, and status within the family and community.
Some examples are:
- Village Savings and Loan Asssociations (VSLA) have been highly successful in boosting investment in remote areas with limited access to financial services. Used in scores of countries by millions of people worldwide, the aim is to secure economic opportunities through an established system of savings and credits.
- Borrower preparation and links to credit
- Contract farming
- Business start-up and explansion investments
- Replacement of assets lost during crisis, cash transfers
Access to markets
There is no point in having goods to sell if there is no one to purchase them. The IRC works to help markets work as well as possible for vulnerable and conflict-affected people.
IRC's market chain approach is an economic development methodology that looks at all the actors (such as farmers or any producers, sellers, consumers, involved in moving a product from raw materials to end consumer). By analysing how value is created, we gain insights into ways to enhance the effective functioning of markets for all actors, including the poor, vulnerable and conflict-affected.
In the past, emergency interventions have sometimes undermined local markets and livelihoods. To address this, the IRC developed the Emergency Market Mapping and Analysis (EMMA) toolkit. EMMA helps agencies to design and implement emergency programmes that respond to people’s immediate needs while helping local economies to recover.
- Market and transportation infrastructure rehabilitation
- Connecting producers and buyers
- Post-harvest storage and food processing systems
- Market research and participatory market analysis
As well as working directly with individuals, communities and small businesses the IRC also works with governments and non-governmental institutions to improve the business environment.
Building on the Ugandan government's recent push for decentralization and local planning the IRC is supporting economic planning and investment in the Karamoja region. Private and public sector investments are used to improve infrastructure, business processes and market linkages.
Approaches have included:
- Local Economic Development (LED)
- Reconstruction driven by the participation of the community
- Association development
- Advocacy initiatives