Islamic Relief announces double dose of Ramadan relief for poor communities hit by drought and floods

Report
from Islamic Relief
Published on 26 Sep 2013

Islamic Relief’s Bangladesh Country Director Shabel Firuz and Holby City actor Hugh Quarshie available for interview

Islamic Relief is implementing a new £9.5 million programme to protect nearly half a million people at risk from drought and floods in five poor countries, funded by the charity’s 2012 Ramadan appeal and match funding from the Department for International Development.

The partnership will be announced at a London press conference on Friday September 27 at 10am. Holby City actor Hugh Quarshie will be available for interview in person, along with Bangladesh Country Director Shabel Firuz joining by Skype. Hugh has seen the devastating impact of drought in north-eastern Kenya on a visit with Islamic Relief, and is a supporter of the charity’s work. Shabel has worked on Islamic Relief’s drought response in East and West Africa, and is now our Country Director in flood-ravaged Bangladesh – one of the countries benefiting from the new partnership.

“Climate-related natural disasters are becoming more frequent and severe, and the cost of tackling them is doubling every 12 years,” says Shabel. “I am delighted that funds from Islamic Relief UK’s Ramadan appeal are being put to good use saving lives and protecting livelihoods in poor communities, and that we will be able to help twice as many people because of match funding from the Department for International Development.

“We need to think about aid from the perspective of people on the receiving end of drought and floods. Would you prefer to get help only when the situation has become dire, when you may already have lost your home, your crops, your livestock? Or would you like to be able to protect what few possessions you have and keep your loved ones safe? Our new disaster protection programme is about enabling poor communities to prepare for the worst instead of just hoping for the best.”

International Development Secretary, Justine Greening MP says, “This is a great example of the sort of common sense development approach that changes lives for the better. It makes sense to take simple steps to prevent the worst situations from happening, rather than picking up the pieces afterwards. It means we can make the money we have go even further.”

“Some aid agencies such as Islamic Relief are rising to the challenge of climate-related natural disasters by shifting the focus of their aid towards disaster protection – helping poor communities to prepare for the worst instead of just expecting them to hope for the best,” says Holby City actor Hugh Quarshie.

In 2012 Islamic Relief’s Ramadan appeal raised £14.4 million. Most of this total – £9.4 million – came from public donations. The rest came from the UK Government, which pledged to match every public donation to the appeal pound for pound, up to a maximum of £5 million.

The Government’s pledge boosted the appeal from the start – many supporters gave more because they knew their donations would be doubled. Islamic Relief is now able to implement a £9.5 million three-year aid programme from the proceeds of the appeal, with £5 million of the funding coming from the Government’s international development budget.

The money is being spent in five countries where poor communities face an increasing risk from drought and floods: Bangladesh, Kenya, Niger, Pakistan and Yemen. A staggering 466,000 people are set to benefit, and they are some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the countries concerned.

The new programme is funding a range of disaster protection activities – things like raised housing to keep people safe from flood water; reservoirs to capture water in the rainy season that can be used during long, hot summers; and cereal banks where communities can store grain to feed their families in the event of drought.

Bangladeshi mum Asma Begum, 26, is testimony to the benefits of this approach. She has lost her home five times to river bank erosion or flooding. But her house was left untouched when her village was hit by its worst floods for 24 years in 2012 – thanks to a large earth platform constructed by Islamic Relief that enabled 21 families living in the flood plain to dismantle their houses and rebuild them on higher ground. “If Islamic Relief hadn’t raised our houses we would have lost some animals and many other assets,” she says. “My life has changed so much.”

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Safiya Sayed Baharun (safiya.baharun@islamic-relief.org.uk / 07872-403534) or Martin Cottingham (martin.cottingham@islamic-relief.org.uk / 07702-940984).

NOTES TO EDITORS

  • The launch press conference will take place at 10am on Friday September 26 in the fourth-floor boardroom at Islamic Relief, 16 Lower Marsh, London SE1 7RJ

  • A short video produced by Islamic Relief to explain and illustrate its work in disaster protection in Bangladesh and Kenya can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1illTWrrrMs

  • The UK Aid Match programme helps British charities change the lives of some of the poorest people in the developing world by matching public donations to charity appeals with funding from the international development budget, up to a total of £5 million per appeal.

  • UK Aid Match was set up to give a boost to public support for charities working in the developing world. It matches with government funding appeals run by some of the charities closest to the British public’s heart, in recognition of both the public’s generosity and the wide range of causes they support.