UMCOR offers integrated solutions to the communities in the US and abroad. UMCOR's methodology identifies priority areas and provides opportunities for the community to access assistance as and when it is needed.
UMCOR does this by treating the community as a whole, encouraging them to regard assistance as an opportunity and not charity, and working with communities to render assistance.
Each aspect of assistance to a community can be regarded as part of a jigsaw puzzle. Without all the pieces in place the community can never be whole. Using an integrated approach and that works in partnership with communities means that communities once faced with extinction are now flourishing and growing in a spirit of optimism.
Why are integrated solutions important?
UMCOR seeks to address the multifaceted issues that bring a community to a point where they cannot recover on their own. This could be from a natural disaster or from civil strife.
For example, in tsunami-affected communities, UMCOR and its local partners find destroyed homes and wrecked livelihoods. The sea contaminated drinking water, crops are gone, livestock was killed, food and savings lost, and families and friends killed. Survivors experience deep psychological repercussions. Beneath the surface of this entire tragedy lie the seeds of long-seated ethnic and religious conflict that threaten to grow and overtake these fragile communities.
Merely addressing one or two aspects of these complex issues will not be effective humanitarian service. A house is useless where there is no income to provide for surviving family members. Farming tools are meaningless if the land is unable to support crops. A community will not stay that way if continuous conflict threatens its future.
What is an integrated solution?
An integrated solution seeks to address these multiple issues. Here are two examples of integrated solutions at work.
Farmer Field Schools
An integrated solution includes programs like the Farmer Field School in Liberia that Bindu Dolo attended. She has five children and struggled to provide adequately for her family using her small farm.
Through the Farmer Field School, implemented by UMCOR, Bindu learned how to better manage her farm and use inexpensive, locally available products to support her crops. Now, her fields yield better produce for a longer period of time. Following Farmer Field School, Bindu earned more than twice the income she once made from her farm. The increase meant her family's health was improved through increased nutrition and food, her children could go to school because of the increase in income, and she continues to teach others what she learned to increase knowledge in her community. Later, she was able to sustain her family after they lost everything in a local conflict. In 2005 she was able to have a better home built.
The Farmer Field School also covers topics of community concern like HIV/AIDS, family concerns, handling finances, and community organization. The farmers develop a sense of community and form loose societies in which they work together for the betterment of their community. In Liberia, a group of farmers worked together to produce and sell rice, using the proceeds to dig a community well. In other areas the farmers used what they learned in Farmer Field School about savings programs to develop their own credit unions.
Integrated Returns in Afghanistan
UMCOR Afghanistan is helping refugees who are returning home after the long years of war in their home country. When they arrive to the towns and villages where they once lived they often find nothing left: no homes, no schools, no water, and no jobs.
UMCOR is working to not only provide returnees with homes, they are also providing them with livestock that will give families nutritious milk and an income. Families are encouraged to give some of the animal's offspring to another family in need, thus multiplying the effort. Community wells and latrines are built by local people to provide jobs and ultimately for the health of those living there. Schools and clinics are constructed so children can have a future and the sick receive the medical care they need. UMCOR seeks to ensure families have what they need to safely return to their homes and be self-sufficient.