IDB programs help Muslim communities around the world |
Arab News - 16 August, 2012
Muslim communities around the world have been benefiting from the Islamic Development Bank’s special assistance program that enables them to carry out educational, social and health projects.
Since its establishment in 1980 IDB’s Special Assistance Division (SPE) has spent $ 723.83 million on 1,437 operations. They include 512 relief operations at a cost of $ 441.90 million in member countries and 925 projects worth $ 281.93 million in nonmember countries.
Hunan Islam Association in China constructed a Medical and Vocational Training Center in Zhengzhou City, while the Muslim community in Canada expanded their Girls School in Toronto with IDB’s financial support.
SPE also supported the Islamic Welfare Trust in Omassery, Kerala, to build a nursing college, the Muslims in the Philippines to expand Moneerah Integrated School in Ubaldo Laya, Iligan City, and the Islamic Foundation in Leicester to build the Markfield Institute of Higher Education.
Other major SPE beneficiaries were: Al-Furqan National College in Addis Ababa, American Youth Academy in Tampa, Florida, Al-Quds School in Copenhagen, the Bosnian Trust Fund for Accelerating Return of Refugees and Displaced Persons and Al-Salam School in Orebro, Sweden.
“Since its inception, SPE has focused on developing and strengthening institutions involved in education, social and health care services,” said Essam Noor Fadel Al-Shanqiti, manager Special Assistance Department.
The IDB department has implemented projects in 63 of 170 nonmember countries to assist Muslim communities in improving their living conditions, harnessing their skills and preserving their culture and identity, he said.
“About 80 percent of our activities focus on education and we help Muslim societies build schools and colleges as well as vocational training centers,” Al-Shanqiti told Arab News.
About 20 percent of SPE’s activities are in the health sector and it helps communities to build hospitals and clinics. “Most of our aid is given as grant to implement these educational and health projects. We work with these societies on condition that they obtain permission from their governments to carry out these projects,” he said.
SPE has three endowment-based programs for India, the Philippines and Ethiopia. “We have been working with Muslim societies in India for more than 30 years and supported a large number of educational and health projects in various parts of the country,” Al-Shanqiti said.
SPE will not meet the full cost of a project and wants the community to contribute at least half of the project’s value. “We also make sure they can run the project on their own,” the IDB official said.
He disclosed plans to support projects in new countries. “There are 170 nonmember countries, among them Muslim communities in 63 countries that have so far received our assistance. We have reached as far away from Fiji to Papua New Guinea, from Canada to Brazil and Argentina,” he explained.
Al-Shanqiti highlighted the impact of SPE projects in empowering Muslim communities. “We are getting good results from these projects. Twenty years ago we established a small Indian school. Now it has become a college.”
SPE’s educational programs have enabled Muslim students to excel in education, obtain higher degrees and get good positions in government departments, especially in African countries. “We support training courses for Indian students to take part in competitive exams.”
SPE supports technical cooperation programs, microfinance projects, capacity development programs and women empowerment initiatives and provides co-financing and partnership in projects with other donors.
Once a project is approved for funding support, a financing agreement is prepared stating responsibilities of IDB and the society. After endorsement of the accord by both parties, the beneficiary will implement the project.
As for quality assurance, competent local firms are hired as consultants to prepare detailed designs and tender documents and supervise the project. Projects under implementation are inspected by IDB experts and audited by an independent auditing office.
SPE also promotes relations between the bank and Muslim communities in nonmember countries. It develops strategies and delivers assistance programs based on community requirements.
“We also collaborate with IDB departments concerned in providing emergency relief assistance to the communities affected by disasters,” Al-Shanqiti said.
“We empower Muslim communities to become effective partners in the development of their countries through human capital development,” he added.
IDB’s innovative special assistance programs are cost-effective, result-oriented, quality-driven, knowledge- based, client-focused, and team work-based, Al-Shanqiti said.