Episcopal Relief & Development Joins Alliance; Promotes Philosophy of Partnerships, Community

March 20, 2015

Sara Delaney, Program Officer-International Programs, Episcopal Relief & Development

Episcopal Relief & Development brings together the generosity of Episcopalians and others with the needs of the world.  As the international relief and development agency of The Episcopal Church, Episcopal Relief & Development promotes sustainable development and provides relief in times of disaster. We partner with the worldwide Anglican Communion, ecumenical agencies and local organizations to save lives and transform communities.

A team in The Philippines work on their community’s Disaster Risk Reduction plans. (Courtesy: Episcopal Relief & Development)

A team in The Philippines work on their community’s Disaster Risk Reduction plans. (Courtesy: Episcopal Relief & Development)

Based in New York and Accra, and with about 50 staff members, Episcopal Relief & Development is able to work in nearly 40 countries, including theUnited States through our US Disaster Program. Our international work is conducted through local partner organizations, enabling us to use local resources and expertise. Our program partners lead the development of integrated programs, within our four program areas:

  • Alleviating hunger and improving food supply
  • Creating economic opportunities and strengthening communities
  • Promoting health and fighting disease
  • Responding to disasters and rebuilding communities
A Program Coordinator in Burundi checks in with a woman on the kitchen garden she recently constructed. (Courtesy: Episcopal Relief & Development)

A Program Coordinator in Burundi checks in with a woman on the kitchen garden she recently constructed. (Courtesy: Episcopal Relief & Development)

Our programmatic philosophy focuses on assets rather than needs. We strive to recognize that genuine, sustainable change happens only when it comes from within an individual and within a community. This recognition motivates us to strategize in a way that promotes healing, empowerment and a thriving community.

Episcopal Relief & Development and its partners work with small farmers to ensure that food is available, accessible and affordable. We empower communities to improve food production by supporting training, tools and resources. Within our increasingly unpredictable climate, our strategy to Alleviate Hunger and Improve the Food Supply centers on helping farmers to become more resilient to challenges that threaten their production.  This includes the following six components:

  1. Identify and strengthen current small farmer assets that contribute to successful agriculture.
  2. Link small farmers to technical and financial inputs to maximize production and market efficiencies and minimize risks.
  3. Mitigate risks to production caused by increasingly severe and unpredictable weather through specific climate-smart practices; Incorporate methods which also mitigate against further climate change.
  4. Use value chain analysis to identify points of intervention for increasing the return to small farmers.
  5. Encourage cooperation and group formation when appropriate.
  6. Promote women-specific strategies to increase benefits to women farmers.
Women in northern Ghana discuss the merits of various maize seed varieties. (Courtesy: Episcopal Relief & Development)

Women in northern Ghana discuss the merits of various maize seed varieties. (Courtesy: Episcopal Relief & Development)

Through our partnership model, counterpart program staff are able to initiate strategies to support small farmers over the long-term, working closely with farmer groups to build the trust needed to develop, test and sustain new agricultural techniques that may require increased labor, changes in behavior or multiple seasons to see results.

Episcopal Relief & Development also partners with organizations to increase the reach and effectiveness of our work. In 2013, for example, we began an operational research partnership with the International Agriculture and Rural Development program at Cornell University, which currently focuses on our work with small farmers in Burundi.  In recent years, the agency has also been awarded grants by USAID, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the Grand Challenges Explorations initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation and others, all of which have led to further learning and improvements in the way we work to measure, document and share the results of our work.

Founded in 1940 as the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief, and reinvented as Episcopal Relief & Development in 2000, we are this year celebrating our 75th anniversary!

We are excited to join the Alliance to End Hunger to share our experiences, and even more so to learn from others. We will also be looking for opportunities for collaboration in our program work, so that we can bring further expertise, knowledge and opportunities to our partners around the world.