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About the IRC

Strategy100: Empowering people in crisis and beyond

Last updated 

Since the International Rescue Committee (IRC) was first founded at the request of Albert Einstein in 1933, our global team of more than 17,000 staff have helped people upended by conflict and crisis to survive, recover, and regain control of their lives. Today we work in more than 40 countries and over 20 U.S. and European cities, from conflict-affected countries like Yemen to resettlement communities like Boise, Idaho.

We focus our support in five areas: ensuring safety from harm, improving health, increasing access to education, improving economic wellbeing, and ensuring people have the power to influence decisions that affect their lives. In all our programming, we address the unique needs of women and girls (who represent the majority of those displaced)—and the barriers to progress everywhere we work.

Changing needs in a changing world

In the almost 90 years since our founding, the world has changed and so have the needs of the people we serve. Today a staggering 82.4 million people are displaced as result of conflict, persecution and crisis, including 26.4 million refugees, a record 48 million internally displaced persons, and 4.1 million asylum seekers. People are displaced for longer periods than ever (most for over a decade) as conflicts (such as that in Afghanistan) average 20 years in length. The climate crisis, projected to displace as many as 150 million people by 2050, further exacerbates these trends, as does COVID-19

A strategic vision for 100 years of action

The goal of Strategy100 is to make our programmes a model for the global humanitarian response. We aim to deliver high-quality, cost-effective programmes—on our own and with local partners. We will combine research on programmes that work best with insights driven by those we serve, to reshape the way the world helps those in need. With this we want to make empowerment and lasting change the norm.

Five young women standing next to each other

Strategy100 will combine research on programmes that work best with insights driven by those we serve, to reshape the way the world helps those in need.

Photo: Martha Tadesse/IRC

Strategy100 will tackle five challenges

Challenge 1

The number of people in need grows each year, but the global response has failed to keep pace.

Solution

Expand our scale 

In order to reach more people in need, not just through our direct programming, but also by leveraging our resources and technical expertise to empower and strengthen local support systems, we will: 

  • Identify which interventions have the most impact at the lowest cost 
  • Target specific chronic-but-resolvable conditions like childhood malnutrition 
  • Improve the speed and access of our emergency response through regional teams integrated with community groups 
  • Engage local partners, including community networks and local civil society, to support local service delivery
  • Invest in our technical capacities specifically designed to better support, and sustain, local service delivery

Challenge 2

Aid programmes put “band-aids” on problems, and too often take a “one-size-fits-all” approach to programming.

Solution 

Empower people living in crisis 

In order to increase our impact and enable long-term change in people’s lives, we will:

  • Solicit input from the people we serve and local partners to ensure IRC programmes are human-centered and contextually appropriate 
  • Design programmes to ensure they are easily adapted to changing circumstances and need
  • Emphasise the importance of using best-available research, evidence and data in our research and innovation

Challenge 3 

Better aid alone cannot improve lives unless it is accompanied by policy change.

Solution

Use our influence

In order to amplify the voices of the people we serve, we will:

  • Defend the rights of displaced communities and demand that all nations honour their humanitarian commitments to asylum seekers and refugees 
  • Accelerate innovation in humanitarian and development practice by establishing four centres for innovation around the world and highlighting innovative local solutions
  • Drive global and regional campaigns for change on select policy issues of key importance to the people we serve

Challenge 4

Current recruitment, training and support practices in the humanitarian sector lead to high turnover of front-line staff and give preference to expertise from abroad instead  of elevating expertise and solutions from people in the countries where we work. This leads to inequalities of power not just in our sector, but in our organisation.

Solution

Invest in our people

In order to attract and retain a diverse and inclusive workforce that represents the communities we serve, we will:

  • Examine how we can address rather than reflect the pervasive and, in some cases, deepening inequalities that exist around the world, especially those of race and gender
  • Prioritise building diverse, inclusive and locally recruited leadership 
  • Refine staff skills through professional development and management training 
  • Ensure a positive, equitable and inclusive work environment that supports all our employees regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or national origin

Challenge 5

The aid sector is driven by small, short-term grants that make long-term impacts harder to achieve.

Solution

Stabilise our funding

In order to better respond to the needs of the people we serve and make stronger investments in their futures, we will:

  • Advocate for and pursue larger, longer-term funding opportunities that enable consistent, high-quality programming
  • Partner with private-sector organisations and individuals around the world committed to humanitarian action and development
  • Provide additional, more flexible funding for strategic initiatives directly to programme teams 

Learn more

Download our Strategy100 brochure.