Derived from the Maslow's hierarchy of needs and the Star of Life, Relief International's logo represents the organization's multi-sector approach to humanitarian aid. Relief International believes that saving lives and incorporating integrated programming is the key to providing long-term and successful development.
RI dedicates itself to seeking and addressing the long-term developmental needs of its beneficiaries even while in the emergency phase. The agency recognizes that disasters have the most negative impact on the lives of the poor; yet disasters, and especially the movement of the populations, can also bring about unexpected, positive social change. This context can therefore serve as a window of opportunity for eradicating poverty and social injustice.
Relief International focuses on serving people who typically have not received due attention, and in several large-scale crises Relief International has been the first US-based agency to provide high-impact development emergency programming to communities in need. Relief International believes that as a humanitarian agency one of its main functions is to communicate the pronounced needs of the vulnerable and affected populations to the international community. Relief International thus consults closely with the local communities it serves in order to ensure that its programs do not impose solutions from the outside but rather address their needs and requirements for the long term. This grassroots approach proves effective in fostering an environment of self-help and sustainability.
Relief International meets the immediate needs of victims of natural disasters and civil conflicts worldwide with the provision of food rations, clean water, non-food items, transitional shelter and emergency medical services. Beyond emergency situations, Relief International’s field teams provide long term health and nutrition services to communities in need by operating clinics and training health workers. Relief International also provides water and sanitation programming, providing communities with access to clean water, decreasing the incidence of communicable diseases, and improving quality of life.
Relief International’s food and agriculture programming embraces environmental awareness by incorporating climate change, natural resource management, and conservation principles into projects that improve global food security. By increasing communities' knowledge of sound agricultural methods suitable to the regional landscape, cultural needs, and environment concerns, Relief International empowers farmers how to diversify viable crops, make the best use of the local growing season, and preserve local natural resources. The result is communities that can produce nutritious food for themselves in a sustainable way.
Education is vital to the social and economic integration of future generations. Relief International places a significant focus on this sector to ensure that children affected by conflict can continue to pursue their education. Programs include a wide range of activities: teacher training programs, building libraries and Internet centers, providing books and classroom furniture to under-resourced schools, and promoting equal access to education. These programs also empower youth through service learning and leadership training to become active in their communities and act as agents for change.
Finding new or better work is the most direct path out of poverty for families in need. Relief International facilitates this process by providing vocational training, offering microfinance opportunities, and developing promising value chains. As a result of these efforts, farmers in Tanzania can get their crops to market before they spoil and women in Afghanistan can earn an income to support their families. These programs are aimed at long-term, reliable growth, and Relief International often engages private sector partners to leverage additional resources and guarantee sustainability.
When natural disasters destroy housing or conflict forces families to flee their homes, Relief International provides for temporary and permanent shelter. Relief International also contributes to local infrastructure by building schools, irrigation canals, and community centers in impoverished communities. Relief International supports training for local residents so that they can participate in the construction process, creating livelihood opportunities for community members. Complementary programs help make homes safer and more comfortable by promoting products like high-efficiency cook stoves, which decrease indoor air pollution and reduce the need to gather fuel.
Millions of individuals worldwide face discrimination, persecution, and even violence. Relief International is on the forefront of implementing programs to protect and support these individuals and encourage peace through nonviolent conflict resolution. The result is programming that provides legal-assistance, fights trafficking in persons, promotes media and journalism, and encourages democratic governance. The rights of women and girls is a critical issue in this sector, and is incorporated in many of Relief International’s programs. Relief International's approach to civil society development emphasizes cross-cultural understanding and empowerment of vulnerable and under-represented members of society.