IFRC to launch Islamic fund and Sukuk to fight cholera

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is joining hands with the IDB to launch a multimillion dollar fund in 2019 to combat cholera and other diarrheal diseases in OIC member countries. In addition, an impact Sukuk will be issued by the end of the year to further grow the size of the fund. MARC ROUSSOT has more.

Money is the sinews of war and in the fierce battle engaged by the IFRC against cholera this is no different. Trying to find new sources of funding, the IFRC will tap Islamic finance with the help of the IDB through the establishment of an Islamic fund and the issuance of a Sukuk facility.

The size of the Sukuk would depend on the response received during roadshows to be held in the next few months in London, Geneva and Kuala Lumpur potentially. A December 2018 report by the IFRC indicated a target amount of US$150 million.

In these meetings, high-net-worth individuals, governments and foundations will be encouraged to participate in the WASH Fund, which will finance a water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) program aiming to impact the lives of five million people in 29 OIC member countries while contributing to the Ending Cholera Global Roadmap — a multi-stakeholder plan announced in late 2017, which aims to reduce cholera deaths by 90% by 2030.

Structured as a stand-alone entity, the WASH Fund will manage the pool of money raised and will be used as the underlying asset for the Sukuk planned to be issued in November.

One global Islamic bank and one GCC-based Islamic bank have been appointed to market the Sukuk to be issued by the WASH Fund, which will contribute to the achievement of UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 on health, SDG 5 on gender equality, SDG 6 on water and sanitation and SDG 17 on partnership. The IFRC also received pro-bono legal support from White & Case.

On the back of protracted conflicts, cholera outbreaks have been reported in Yemen, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In April 2019 alone, the Ministry of Public Health and Population of Yemen reported a total of 118,112 suspected cholera cases including 202 related deaths.

Since its launch in 2005, the IFRC’s WASH programs have reached 36 million people in 80 countries.

This article first appeared in IFN Volume 16 Issue 23 on the 11th of June 2019

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