How we rebuild and transform lives

Around the globe, poverty, exclusion and crisis marginalise people - from poor health to food insecurity and lack of education to inadequate living standards, income deprivation, disempowerment and threat of violence.

For this reason, the solutions can only be found in a multi-dimensional approach to change.

At Dorcas, we work directly with vulnerable individuals, the communities around them and wider societal structures to ensure our programmes are relevant and have sustainable change.

Our Theory of Change in 2 minutes

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Programme concepts

The Dorcas Theory of Change is translated into three programme concepts that create impact, demonstrate our added value and inform the programmatic priorities set by each country office. These are: (1) Humanitarian Assistance and Recovery, (2) Social Empowerment and Protection and (3) Inclusive Entrepreneurship.

Humanitarian Assistance and Recovery focuses on saving people’s lives and preserving their dignity during disasters or crises. People’s immediate needs are met, communities are enabled to become resilient to shocks, and governments are actively involved in contributing to safer and more peaceful communities.

Social Empowerment and Protection seeks to ensure that the poorest and most marginalised have access to basic services, like health and education, and are empowered in their social development. This is realised by organising and mobilising communities to solve their own problems and work on opportunities through asset-based community development processes.

Inclusive Entrepreneurship enables disadvantaged people and groups to acquire the attitudes, competences and skills they need to earn an income and build their dreams. This is realised by creating social and economic value through entrepreneurial livelihoods and applying it to self-employment, small businesses, member-based entities or social enterprises.


Mainstreaming themes

Faith@Work, inclusion, conflict sensitivity and climate resilience are cornerstones of a flourishing community and demand for mainstreaming in all programme concepts. Dorcas will work more on an unilateral understanding of these mainstreaming themes and how to integrate these in all context-specific theories of change and subsequent programmes. Dorcas wishes mainstreaming themes to be applied in every programme.

Faith@Work: Faith in Jesus Christ, forms the basis of Dorcas’ Philosophy of Change, Theory of Change and Way of Working. Faith@Work as mainstreaming theme enables Dorcas to view the structural causes of poverty and exclusion holistically. Faith@Work enables Dorcas to translate a holistic world view towards change at the individual, community and society levels addressing spiritual, social, economic, environmental dimensions of life.

Inclusion: Inclusion is about removing structural barriers causing inequity, improving access to services for all, seeing all people and recognising their differences and supporting them to engage in wider processes to ensure that their rights and needs are recognised. We include gender equality in the broader inclusion theme. We realise that despite much advancement, gender inequality still persists around the world and is deeply rooted in cultural values, norms and practices. For Dorcas, gender equality means that all human beings, both male and female, are free to develop their
personal abilities and make choices without the limitations set by stereotypes, rigid gender roles and prejudices. Gender equality implies that the different behaviour, aspirations and needs of women and men are considered, valued and favoured equally.

Conflict sensitivity: In the triple nexus, this theme is closely linked to the peacebuilding dimension. Within the triple nexus and the theme peacebuilding and reconciliation, Dorcas’ position and role is focusing on conflict sensitivity. Dorcas recognises that in an increasing number of contexts, it is essential to intentionally work in a conflict-sensitive manner and to work on preconditions for peace. Dorcas will need to work with other actors that contribute specialist expertise on peacebuilding and conflict resolution, for example. Dorcas will act as an enabler for peace mainly at the community level, with a focus on social cohesion building and conflict-sensitive programming.

Climate resilience is about adjusting to climate change, countering environmental degradation and minimising risk from disasters. The theme ensures that the wider environmental and physical context of interventions is taken into account and even improved as part of good stewardship. We recognise that the impact of climate change is often felt first and most acutely by those who suffer from extreme poverty. Dorcas will focus on climate change adaptation. This implies that we will work with communities to prepare for and negate the effects of climate change, thereby reducing the vulnerability of communities and their ecosystems. By adapting to cope with the effects of climate change, communities, enterprises and institutions can build up their climate-change resilience. We are committed to ensuring that our programmes minimise the immediate and long-term risks of climate change to those communities we serve. Investments into improved energy efficiency, the enhanced use of renewable energy, water saving and protection measures, and improved waste management are necessary measures to protect their environment and climate.

Quality and added value

We monitor and evaluate every one of our programmes to continuously improve the quality and relevance of our work.

Prior to the roll out of any intervention we first undertake extensive market research to identify community needs and priorities. The findings dictate our strategic focus for the implementation of future programmes.

We take a systematic approach - one that measures our success against the highest global standards. Dorcas adheres to the nine commitments of the Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability (CHS) to ensure the effectiveness of everything we do.

Sustainable Development Goals


All Dorcas activities contribute to the alleviation of poverty and food insecurity, and to building resilient livelihoods. Inclusion and the protection of marginalised groups is key to what we do - both in our development work and relief activities.


Under Community Based Care and Protection, we develop and strengthen safety nets and social protection networks -  improving the well being of vulnerable elderly people and families. Disadvantaged children gain access to education and relevant skills training.


In our Early Recovery and Resilient Livelihoods approach we pay special attention to improved food security and nutrition, via projects that introduce sustainable production systems and adapt to the changing needs of climate change. WASH interventions are community-based and promote entrepreneurial solutions.


Our Enterprising People and Communities approach supports productive self-employment and work opportunities for all, in particular for disadvantaged groups. We also promote access to labour rights and other sustainable resources. Wherever relevant, we build and participate in multi-stakeholder and public-private partnerships.

Regions where we work

Take a look at our work in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.