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Issues » 2009/4 - Social Work and Development Aid »

Květoslava Princová

The Meaning of Social Work in International Relief and Cooperation


Social work has been understood as the work with individuals, families, groups and communities. International social work (social work in developing countries) is mainly based on the group and community work, with the emphasis on empowerment and different context (cultural, social, environmental, etc.). International relief responses to the problems in the world – wars, disasters, combined crises, extreme poverty. According to the length of the relief we distinguish humanitarian relief and development cooperation. This kind of activities has done much good but there are also negative impacts. There is much effort being invested in order to find the best way of realisation of the international relief and cooperation. One of the good principles found is a holistic understanding of the problem; it means to understand the whole problem in its complexity and to adopt the relief to the needs as much as possible. The development cooperation which tries to treat the global problems is not able to heal all impacts of globalisation which are nowadays emerging, especially the big differences between people and extreme poverty resulting from it. While solving the global problems “from above” the rich become richer and the poor become more and more poor. The extreme poverty is very often located in specific places which were left out in the process of fast development. International social work is very often the instrument, which is very successful in diminishing this kind of poverty. Comparing different kinds of international relief, social work is one of which is doing more “good and less harm”.


humanitarian relief, humanitarian disaster, development cooperation, international relief, social work, international social work, community work, vulnerability, poverty, Millenium Development Goals, cooperation

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