International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Working for Economic Recovery

Annie Grant runs a fruit and vegetable stand in a suburb of Monrovia, Liberia

Photo: Peter Biro/IRC

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 revitalize 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.

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.

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.

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 programs that respond to people’s immediate needs while helping local economies to recover.

Strengthening institutions

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.

Learn more

Making cash transfer programs more efficient and effective – October 25, 2015

Hard-nosed compassion – September 26, 2015 

How cash transfers can transform humanitarian aid – September 15, 2015 

Moving to a world of work for Syrian Refugees – September 1, 2015 

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems – The trials and tribulations of an anti-cash aid worker – December 19, 2014

Confessions of an ICT4D advisor – December 8, 2014

Why is cash important to an aid worker – December 4, 2014 

What’s beyond the tipping point on cash? – October 31, 2014 

Refugees don’t waste the financial aid we send them – so we need to stop worrying that they do – September 28, 2014 – The Independent 


Emergency Economies: The Impact of Cash Assistance in Lebanon – September 29, 2014