Relief International Creates Sustainable Change

If there’s ever a friend to have during a crisis, it’s Relief International, an international nonprofit organization based in the US that provides comprehensive support in response to natural disasters and conflicts around the world. The organization, which spent over $33 million in expenditures for the cause in 2011, has a unique focus on long term development in regions affected by crises, even when they are still in the emergency phase. In many cases, Relief International has been the first US-based agency to provide development relief efforts in the affected region following crises, but the benefits of their efforts are certainly not the first to leave.

Relief International divides their works in six different areas – emergency health and sanitation, food and agriculture, education and empowerment, livelihoods and enterprise, shelter and infrastructure, and protection and human rights – all of which help victims get back up and stay on their feet long after a crisis.

In the event of a crisis, first Relief International focuses on meeting the immediate needs of the victims, by providing food rations, clean water, temporary shelter and emergency medical supplies through their emergency health and sanitation programs. Once the immediate danger has passed, the organization stays in the region to help victims can get back to their original way of life, or even make it better than it was before.

This involves creating sustainable agriculture practices by educating farmers and communities about how to diversify their crops and efficiently use resources, and helping students continue their education by providing educational resources such as books, supplies and buildings such as technology centers and libraries. Relief International also provides educational programs that teach students service learning and leadership so they can become advocates for change in the future. In addition, the organization helps adults jump back into their careers through vocational training opportunities and giving microfinance loans. All the while, they are also advocates for human rights by creating programs to educate women about their rights and providing legal assistance, while also promoting journalism on issues like human trafficking and promoting democratic government.

One of Relief International’s most recent projects was the opening of a Zoonosis control office in the Chitral district of Pakistan. Zoonosis is a type infectious disease that can be transmitted between species (meaning it can affect both humans and livestock), and is known to be one of the deadliest health hazards in the region. There are 296 diseases, including Tuberculosis, Tetanus and Rabies, that fall under the Zoonosis category. Relief International’s office will focus on advocacy and awareness about the type of disease, and integrate surveillance and response management in the region so less people become infected.

– Emma McKay

Sources: Relief International The Dardistan Times Charity Navigator