This year we built new partnerships, strengthened existing ones and supported the Islamic Relief family to achieve our shared goals
We also improved the quality of our programmes, aiming for the highest standards in the sector.
In striving for excellence in our programs we build relationships not just at the global level but also with local organizations, offering our expertise in developing faith-sensitive interventions.
Pakistan Prime Minister Commends Our Programmes
Interfaith Initiatives Support Peace And Equality
Impact Of Our Usaid-funded Work Highlighted On Capitol Hill
Stronger Collaboration With Un And Geneva-based Agencies
Learning And Development Builds Staff Capacity
PAKISTAN PRIME MINISTER COMMENDS OUR PROGRAMMES
Our CEO, Naser Haghamed, met with Pakistan’s Prime Minister during a visit to the country that aimed to deepen the positive impact we’re having through healthcare, disaster risk reduction and response, water and sanitation, education and climate adaptation programs.
Also meeting Pakistan’s President, Dr Arif Alvi, our CEO was urged to help the government provide free health services. Lieutenant Genera Muhammad Afzal, Chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority, discussed with us our plans to help build a safer and more disaster resilient Pakistan.
At a special reception attended by ambassadors, UN and government officials and leading sector experts, the Managing Director of Pakistan Baitul- Mal praised Islamic Relief’s work in empowering women and supporting children. The visit also included an appearance on Pakistan Television Network (PTV)
INTERFAITH INITIATIVES SUPPORT PEACE AND EQUALITY
Meanwhile, we also continued working with communities in Asia and East Africa through our peacebuilding partnership with Sida. A key focus this year was recognizing the role of women and youth in resolving conflict and organizing them into peace councils. We also engaged women faith leaders in regular radio broadcasts and ensured women have a powerful voice in peace forums. At the European Development Days 2019, we held a high-level debate engaging European Commission officials together with Baha’i International, Brot für die, Welt, Act Alliance EU, EU Cord, Pax Christi and World Vision. Addressing the challenge of inequalities in low-income countries, the interfaith event was a key step forward in efforts to ensure recognition for the value that faith-based organizations bring to development.
IMPACT OF OUR USAID-FUNDED WORK HIGHLIGHTED ON CAPITOL HILL
In a visit to Congress, Islamic Relief highlighted the importance of US support for humanitarian efforts to overcome interfaith conflict and lift people out of poverty. In the past four years US federal funding has supported eight Islamic Relief projects in Ethiopia, Kenya and the Central African Republic (CAR).
During the visit we spoke about our Christian-Muslim peacebuilding work in CAR and an irrigation project in Kenya that has allowed hundreds of drought-stricken farmers to grow food using solar-powered and water-efficient technology.
STRONGER COLLABORATION WITH UN AND GENEVA-BASED AGENCIES
In December, we played a leading role in interfaith engagement at the first Global Refugee Forum. Islamic Relief’s Naser Haghamed, CEO (third left), and Kate Wiggans, UN Geneva Representative (second left), met with Fillipo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (centre) and colleagues from World Vision International, Lutheran World Federation and the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA).
In 2019 we increased our collaboration with Geneva-based stakeholders by recruiting a full time UN Representative. In August UNHCR’s Head of Partnerships and Coordination, Arafat Jamal, visited our offices in Birmingham to begin discussions on re-igniting our role as a core global strategic partner. In November we organized a panel for Geneva Peace Week where our experts spoke on the importance of including peacebuilding in humanitarian and development work, alongside Mercy Corps, Sida, Norwegian Refugee Council and International Rescue Committee.
In June 2019, UN Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Ursula Mueller, saw firsthand how Islamic Relief is helping vulnerable families in Malawi recover from disasters such as Cyclone Idai. She commended the standard of our disaster-resilient homes and our efforts to involve local communities at each stage.
LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT BUILDS STAFF CAPACITY
Islamic Relief’s training and learning division, the Humanitarian Academy for Development (HAD), delivered courses to over 250 employees this year with another 850 accessing e-learning modules covering subjects including safety and security in the field, mental health first aid, proposal writing and local framework analysis.
HAD continued to strengthen local NGOs working on the ground by training 225 aid workers responding to the Syria crisis. Funded by Islamic Development Bank the training covered communications, conflict resolution, leadership and governance, monitoring and evaluation, advocacy, human resources, fundraising and supply chain management.
HAD also supports Islamic Relief’s policies and programmes through research and partnerships with academic institutions, Islamic organisations and international NGOs.
In 2019 HAD recruited 21 graduates to an internship programme and deployed a further 10 interns to field offices in the Middle East as part of the EU-funded Youth Resolve programme
Commitment To Remove Barriers In Aid Delivery
Islamic Relief is one of four permanent representatives of the Core Group within the UK government’s Tri-Sector Working Group. The group brings together representatives of the UK government, banks and aid agencies to work collaboratively. It was established to address the impact of counter-terrorism legislation, sanctions and other regulatory or licensing regimes on the operations of international non-governmental organisations in high-risk areas such as conflict zones, and the challenges of financing humanitarian projects in those areas. The group gained momentum this year as a set of principles was agreed committing to working together to ensure safe, timely and lawful delivery of humanitarian aid where it is needed.
Local Organisations Supported And Developed
Islamic Relief has a strategic aim to strengthen the capacity of local organisations, who, with local knowledge and awareness of community needs, are often the first to respond to humanitarian emergencies and remain on the ground after the crisis. In 2019 we concluded the first phase of an extensive 33-month localisation project in Cambodia, Myanmar, Nepal and the Philippines. BATAS Foundation from Nepal was one of seven local partners supported through the scheme. The local organisation had limited exposure to humanitarian response when it became an implementing partner for our response to the earthquake of 2015. It is now an equal and well-equipped partner, thanks to the STRIDE (Strengthening Response Capacity and Institutional Development for Excellence) project.
“Before we wanted to support people but didn’t have policies, systems and technical knowledge in place,” says its director, Ananda Raj Bata. The grants and advice provided by Islamic Relief helped his organisation to grow and develop a strategy. “Now we are able to respond to small-scale emergencies.” The participatory flexible approach to partnership between Islamic Relief and local partners involved in STRIDE has been hailed as good practice, with the HPG (Humanitarian Policy Group) of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) calling for the approach and our learning from the project to be shared across the humanitarian sector.
This year we also worked with Leeds University, RedR, Tearfund Belgium and Tearfund UK to build the capacity of local faith actors in South Sudan by supporting them to implement responses to disasters. The trailblazing project gives the humanitarian system an evidence-based model for engaging with local faith actors that can be successfully applied elsewhere. About 13,000 people benefited from the livelihoods and water, sanitation and hygiene interventions.
Global Safeguarding Summit Trains Key Staff
We held our first global safeguarding summit this year to train staff in our robust safeguarding mechanisms, which are in place to protect the people we serve as well as our staff and partners. Our safeguarding leads from over 20 field locations came together in Istanbul over four days to share best practice and improve awareness and safeguarding systems within their communities, while ensuring interventions remain responsive to the local context. Islamic Relief continues to develop and enhance its safeguarding measures with a new mandatory safeguarding e-module for all staff to complete.
Protecting Our Reputation
This year we also built the capacity of partner offices to lead on issues such as crisis communications and reputation management, to make us more agile and unified when dealing with negative media coverage and Islamophobic attacks. Externally, Islamic Relief continued to grow its public profile and build its reputation on the global stage as well as increase its engagement online, which saw a 20 per cent rise in our Twitter followers.
Equal Access To Aid For People With Disabilities
In November 2019 Islamic Relief attended the launch of the first humanitarian guidelines developed with people with disabilities to tackle the barriers they face in accessing aid and protection. People with disabilities are more likely to lose their lives in disasters, displaced children with disabilities are at greater risk of abuse and neglect, and women with disabilities are more likely to experience sexual violence.
Islamic Relief helped broaden access to the guidelines developed by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) by translating them into Arabic. Published jointly with International Disability Alliance, Humanity & Inclusion and CBM, we included a collection of case studies to provide practical examples to accompany the guidance.
Better Communication And Engagement With Donors
Communicating with our donors and other stakeholders is an important part of reporting and transparency for Islamic Relief. In 2019 we delivered regional training to improve the writing, photography and videography skills of staff in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. The training introduced a new and more thorough process for gaining consent before collecting personal data and ethical guidelines for collecting case studies. Our trainers emphasised the importance of clearer and more accessible communication.
International Waqf Fund Established
Waqf is an Islamic form of permanent endowment and since 2000 has been a way of investing in some of our long-term programmes. In 2019, Islamic Relief Waqf changed its name to International Waqf Fund, establishing itself as an independent entity with its own trustees and strategic plans. The funds it raises will continue to be invested in Islamic Relief programmes, with the scale of its endowment projects expected to increase in the next four years.
In 2019 Waqf raised £413,387 and, utilising £482,705 of returns from investments, we implemented 11 sustainable programmes in eight countries.
A Stronger Global Presence For Islamic Relief
Islamic Relief continued to reach new communities and increased its presence in Ireland and Spain. Our South Africa office saw a substantial growth in income as it marked 15 years of tackling poverty, inequality, HIV, AIDS, childhood cancer, educational disparity and unemployment in the country. This year we also strengthened the capacity of our Kosova and Bosnia-Herzegovina field offices to achieve long-term self-reliance through fundraising.
Through our Birmingham office we increased our volunteer base and held an international volunteer camp with over 80 attendees from different countries. We also represented Islamic Relief at the 24th International World Scout Jamboree, building our network of young supporters of Islamic Relief.