Is Islamic charitable giving a promising resource for future humanitarian assistance?
This blog was originally published on the ALNAP website. You can read the article in full here.
We are all too aware of the number and scale of humanitarian crises facing our world today, not least in Syria where an estimated 220,000 people have died in the four-year conflict. It is important to remind ourselves that our collective humanity is taking on these challenges, with record levels of funding providing urgent assistance to millions of people affected by conflict, natural disasters and epidemics such as Ebola. Spiralling needs, however, mean that we have an unprecedented shortfall – last year US$7.5 billion of humanitarian funding requirements remained unmet. More than ever, we are having to seek better ways to meet the needs of those affected by humanitarian crises.
Faith plays a key role in international humanitarian response. Between 11% and 16% of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) listed in the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)’s Financial Tracking Service (FTS) as humanitarian funding recipients in 2013 are explicitly guided by faith-based principles. Seven of the 22 NGOs represented on the board of the Core Humanitarian Standard have an explicit faith-based ethos, as do five of the 13 NGOs that constitute the UK Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).
Islamic financing in particular is a surprisingly underexplored territory. Surprising because previous estimates suggest that anywhere between US$200 billion and US$1 trillion is spent in the form of Islamic charitable giving (Zakat) across the Muslim world each year. The Global Humanitarian Assistance (GHA) programme’s new report An Act of Faith – Humanitarian financing and Zakat published today reinforces these figures and goes further by looking at Zakat in depth, specifically in relation to humanitarian assistance.
Amjad Mohamed Saleem is a political analyst on peacebuilding and humanitarian issues in South & South East Asia, with a specific interest in the role of faith in conflict transformation.
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