Relief International

RI provides emergency relief, rehabilitation and development assistance to victims of natural disasters and civil conflicts worldwide. RI's programs bridge the gap between immediate and long-term community development. This orientation promotes self-reliance and the peaceful reintegration of populations. RI's programs are designed with the input and participation of target beneficiary groups such as women, children and the elderly, whose special needs are often neglected in disasters.
Aug 21, 2007

August 2007 Progress Report: Shelter, Schools & Livelihoods for Quake Survivors, Indonesia

Rebuilding Houses

The Indonesian earthquake of May 2006 hit the province of Yogyakarta hard, and left more than 600,000 people homeless. More than a year later, hundreds of thousands of people are still living without proper shelter. The Yogyakarta government has only been able to provide housing to 30% of residents with destroyed homes.

In response to this crisis, Relief International launched an innovative Shelter Emergency Loan Fund (SELF) in late 2006. Now, the program is coming to fruition, allowing earthquake-affected families to rebuild their homes and livelihoods for themselves.

During RI’s initial assessment of the disaster, the organization became aware of a strong tradition of microfinance in the region of Yogyakarta. Through the SELF project, RI funds and supports indigenous microfinance institutions (MFIs), which then disburse small loans to clients. The exchange allows earthquake victims to rebuild more quickly and effectively on their own, rather than waiting for government support that may never come.

The SELF program aims to make low-interest shelter reconstruction loans available to approximately 200 households (about 1200 individuals). Early this year, RI made a thorough assessment of competitors, and gave loans of $50,000 to two local microfinance institutions (MFIs) on May 31, 2007. Those institutions then began disbursing funds to clients on June 1, and had disbursed 30 loans to families and households by June 30. In July, RI re-opened the competition and selected a third MFI. That institution began providing loans to clients in August. RI will continue its search for a fourth and final MFI.

The MFIs are supported and trained by RI, and RI oversees the process to ensure efficiency and transparency. Upon request, households can request technical and building assistance from RI’s partner organization, the University of Gadjah Mada Architecture School.

In providing access to loans and financial advice that are not normally available to the poor in Indonesia, RI supports the economic self-sufficiency of individuals, as well as the wellbeing of their community infrastructure.

Livelihoods Program – Ceramic Industry

Kajen, a tiny village on the island of Java, hosts a vital ceramics industry that makes up 10% of the surrounding region’s economy. The 2006 shook the area and crippled many of its businesses.

In response to the emergency, Relief International is rebuilding artisan workstations and teaching villagers technical skills to help bring businesses back onto their feet. All of this will soon happen at a Common Service Facility (CSF). The CSF will be a local meeting place where artisans and producers will come together to solve problems and find solutions to everyday issues facing their villages and families.

And because of the success of RI’s SELF program, the two programs are being linked. RI is giving no-interest loans to local Indonesian micro-finance institutions to provide micro-credit loans to home-based businesses. The synergy created by the combination of these two programs will help to propel the target population to self-sufficiency.

Aug 21, 2007

August 2007 Progress Report: Combating Hunger via Livestock for Families, Niger

Relief International’s animal restocking program in Niger works with widowed or abandoned women who have children and other dependents, helping them to build up lost herds and flocks in a sustainable way. To date, animal purchases, vaccinations, and distributions have taken place at 17 of the 20 Relief International-supported villages in Niger, with a total of 408 cows and 1600 sheep or goats now loaned to vulnerable community members.

The methodology being used to purchase and distribute animals through this project is proving to be highly successful, and adheres to longstanding nomadic cultural norms in the zone. At each distribution site, RI staff conduct meetings with the whole community to establish terms of reference of the animal loans, to discuss the importance of prioritizing female beneficiaries, and to elect community purchasing committees, whose responsibilities include carrying out the purchasing decisions of beneficiaries regarding animal type (cows, goats sheep etc), and helping to determine animal quality, race, and health. After the terms of references have been established, and the particular animal decisions have been made by beneficiaries, a formal contract is signed by the chief and committee of each site and the RI project staff.

The innovative aspect of this loan project is that the livestock purchased and distributed are not one-off payments to beneficiaries. Rather, the project adheres to a traditional stock-loan methodology, where each beneficiary is required to give back one (same sex) offspring for each animal they receive. Only after they have done so are the original livestock their own to keep. The offspring are then re-distributed to other beneficiaries, which cannot be members of the same family and must have been pre-determined by the site committee. Second-round beneficiaries receive the same number of animals and are subject to the same conditions as first-round beneficiaries.

Members of the Government Veterinary Technical Services in Abalak have accompanied project staff and community committees on each animal purchase and distribution mission, and are specifically tasked with inspecting prospective livestock for health, quality, and cost, vaccinating all purchased livestock against the main diseases in the region, and overseeing distribution. This provides additional transparency to the activity, helps to build relations between government and citizen, and helps to ensure accountability of the project to beneficiaries. The role of the Technical Services also includes writing reports about each mission, and making recommendations for future methodological adjustments.

Apr 10, 2007

Progress Report: Access to Water for Families in Niger