Jeddah – UNICEF and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) launched an innovative fund in September 2019 that promises to open new opportunities for Muslim philanthropy to reach the millions of children currently in need of humanitarian support and help achieve the UN SDGs.
The Global Muslim Philanthropy Fund for Children (GMPFC) is the first fund focused on Muslim giving to be launched by a UN organization together with a multilateral development bank. According to the IsDB, the fund will enable multiple forms of Muslim philanthropy, including obligatory giving such as Zakat and voluntary giving such as Sadaqah donations and Waqf endowments, to contribute to emergency response and development programmes.
The IsDB estimates that global annual Zakat contributions alone may reach US$600 billion, making this a significant potential source of sustainable funding to help achieve the SDGs. The US$250 million GMPFC will be administered by the IsDB and hopes to streamline giving from private and public foundations, Zakat agencies and individuals.
Funding will be allocated to UNICEF and IsDB programmes in the 57 Member Countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) which have been identified as eligible to receive Muslim giving, uphold UNICEF core values and deliver the greatest strategic impact for children and young people. This will include support for children in education, health and nutrition, water and sanitation, early childhood development, protection and youth empowerment.
The GMPFC is seeded by the IsDB and is already attracting contributions from other lead investors such as the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, whose Chairman, Abdul Aziz Abdulla Al Ghurair, committed to contribute US$10 million to the Fund over a three-year period. This commitment will support refugee education programmes in the Middle East and North Africa region.
According to Chairman Al Ghurair, “the GMPFC is an important and much needed initiative in Islamic philanthropy and will have a meaningful impact for children and youth at the global level. Through our investment in the Fund we help to ensure that refugee children are able to claim their right to a quality education.”
Dr. Bandar Hajjar, President of the IsDB, asserted that global humanitarian needs are at critical levels and rising. “Nearly 184 million people,” he said at the launch, “including 89 million children need humanitarian assistance in 2019. Children are especially vulnerable – they face the highest risk of violence, exploitation, disease and bear the brunt of climatic events, be they floods or droughts. That is why we need urgent and innovative solutions such as Islamic finance. We are proud to partner with UNICEF to develop this innovative, ethical and sustainable funding solution. Together we can provide help and assistance today and ensure a brighter tomorrow for those who need it the most– our children.”
“Every child has the right to survive and thrive, but conflicts and other emergencies continue to deny children the protection, health and futures they deserve,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “Emergency programmes in OIC countries account for two thirds of UNICEF’s humanitarian funding needs. This new partnership with IsDB will accelerate our efforts to reach the most vulnerable children with life-saving support and demonstrates the power of collective action to help every child attain every right.”
The GMPFC offers a coordinated and structured mechanism through which Muslim giving can respond to the children and young people who need it most. It benefits from UNICEF’s on-the-ground presence in all OIC member states and areas affected by emergencies, pooled resources and reduced costs, and programmes that have been pre-approved to absorb Muslim funding.