Development Program Spanning Several Countries
King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz Program for charity work is one of the major imprints of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in the humanitarian field on a global scale. The Program aims at helping poor communities around the world. His Majesty assigned it to Islamic Development Bank Group for implementation and supervision, while requesting nondisclosure of his identity. He did so out of his desire to save this program’s reward for the afterlife, and as part of his approach to doing good without hypocrisy or seeking transient worldly gains other than a sense of satisfaction. He was Allah’s instrument to meet the needs of the poor, relieve the distressed, and lend a helping hand to the needy.
Fael Khair Program spanned many countries in different continents. In Asia, beneficiary countries included Bangladesh, Myanmar, Aceh Province in Indonesia, Yemen, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. In Africa, the Program included Somalia as well as West African countries such as Niger, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
The Program’s Beginnings
The Program was created when King Abdullah issued an order, while he was still Crown Prince, to foster orphans of the victims of the tsunami that struck Aceh Province in Indonesia in December 2004. Then in December 2007, King Abdullah donated SAR 500 million, and assigned to the Islamic Development Bank Group the implementation of a project to relieve and aid the survivors of Cyclone Sidr that hit the southwestern coast of Bangladesh in November 2007. Yet these generous donations were not the end, but rather marked the start, of Fael Khair Program. The Program was not restricted to these two humanitarian projects or to King Abdullah’s selfless donations, which sought no reward except to be in Allah’s graces; the Program instead extended to implement 8 projects at a cost of more than SAR 2.6 billion in poor countries and communities in numerous developing countries.
Upon King Abdullah’s death, the implementing entity (Islamic Development Bank Group) revealed the identity of the noble humanitarian soul whose donations and initiatives transformed the lives of tens of thousands of families in different places around the world. King Abdullah International Foundation for Humanitarian Activities faithfully continued the Program alongside the Group backed by King Abdullah’s sons, who form the Foundation’s Board of Trustees and are committed to pursuing their inspiring father’s path of humanitarian giving.
The Program’s Eight Projects
Each of the eight projects represents a turning point in the communities targeted by Fael Khair Program. Each project is concerned with the lives of people in areas that suffer natural disasters, drought, epidemics, or lack of basic services, which threatens the stability of the area’s population, its livelihoods, and future. Proceeding from that, the choice and design of implemented projects sought to meet people’s needs, provide aid, relief, and facilitate their livelihoods, while ensuring sustainability in such projects to extend their implementation impact to future generations in each region.
Below is a quick overview of each of Fael Khair Program’s eight projects and the effect of each on improving people’s lives in targeted areas.
Mobile Clinics in a Number of Islamic States
Helping Muslim Communities in Need in Asia
The Project’s cost is SAR 600 million, and it provides aid in the form of several distinct projects to support education, healthcare, and housing to improve the living standards of poor marginalized Muslim communities in most need of help in Asia.
Project implementation began in targeted areas in Myanmar; its first phase comprised providing emergency relief to poor families, followed by establishing primary healthcare centers in 7 refugee camps in Rakhine Province, where the majority of the Rohingya Muslim minority resides. Fael Khair Program is also financing a project in the fields of education and healthcare serving Rohingya refugees. A comprehensive assessment study is being carried out to develop Rakhine Province; the study’s results will guide several critical province development projects aimed at improving the living standards of the poor and marginalized Muslim minority there.
The Fael Khair Program is conducting consultations with international organizations and commissions to propose effective programs that meet the population’s needs and that can be implemented in a number of countries in Southeast Asia.
Helping Survivors of Bangladesh Cyclones
The Project’s cost is $130 million (SAR 487.5 million), and it includes construction of 173 multi-purpose buildings (schools/shelters), 95 of which were delivered and the rest are under construction to be delivered at a future time. The Project’s second aspect includes providing aid to cyclone survivors. Project beneficiaries have totaled more than 270,000 local inhabitants.
King Abdullah had ordered the implementation of this project, in response to the humanitarian and social needs resulting from Cyclone Sidr, which struck the southern coasts of Bangladesh in 2007. The Project includes the construction of shelters in cyclone-affected coastal areas, which are used as schools in normal circumstances. It also includes providing support to the population in cyclone-affected areas including farmers, fishermen, and traders.
The facilities built by Fael Khair Program in the Cyclone area are modern educational structures each with a capacity of 240 students, while also being equipped to serve as shelters each with a capacity of over 2000 people and 500 livestock during cyclones that hit the country from time to time. The buildings were designed to last for more than 100 years and to withstand cyclones (whose speed sometimes reaches 260 km/h). Such facilities were also designed as green buildings equipped with solar energy sources, solid school furniture, and water reservoirs to gather rainwater to meet the dire need for potable water throughout the year, especially in times of disaster.
A total $110 million of the grant value was allocated for the facilities in the coastal belt region in Bangladesh. Another $20 million was dedicated to establish an endowment with part of its revenue to be used for: maintenance of schools/shelters, relief and rehabilitation, and providing emergency aid to cyclone survivors by restoring the production capital they lost due to the cyclone. Such aid includes purchase of seeds, replacing livestock lost, helping junior fishermen and small store owners resume their activities through soft loans with no service fees, offering vocational training to survivors, and providing guidelines to ensure their small projects’ success.
Cumulative loan amounts granted to populations of targeted areas reached $140 million paid in 7 rounds till the end of February 2016. Among the loan beneficiaries, 95% were women, who received the support they needed to restore their own and their families’ pre-cyclone living conditions, and to be an active, effective and productive part of the rehabilitation process for their societies in the future.
The Project proved its sustainability and effectiveness when the severe Cyclone Roanu hit the southern coasts of Bangladesh on May 21st, 2016, forcing the population to evacuate their homes and resort to nearby shelters, among them those built by Fael Khair Program along the Cyclone’s route in Bhola Island, Patuakhali District, and Chittagong City. The buildings constructed by Fael Khair Program hosted 11,000 people with their 3500 livestock, as well as their valuables and bicycle-pulled carts (locally called rickshaws).
Construction of Niamey Educational Complex in Niger for Girls
The Project is an exceptional addition to the Islamic University in Niger, which was founded in 1986 in implementation of the Second Islamic Summit held in Lahor, Pakistan in 1974.
The University was founded near “Say” village, 50 km away from Niger’s capital Niamey. Due to the University’s relatively isolated location, lack of appropriate environment, relative inaccessibility due to the poor transportation system, and given the conservative nature of Niger society, long years had passed without any girl having enrolled. Despite the decision made to operate a girls’ branch in the capital Niamey, the branch did not have the capacity necessary to accommodate growing female student demand. All this made the sought-after change very limited.
King Abdullah therefore decided to change the status quo, paving the road for female students in Niger and neighboring countries to pursue higher education in a pleasant atmosphere that considers their special social status, enhancing the role of women in social and economic development and their contribution to human development within the framework of Islamic values and supporting Arabic language use in African communities south of the desert.
The Project’s cost is $65 million (SAR 243.5 million). Construction works were scheduled to begin before the beginning of 2017 following completion of detailed operational design on an area of 17.5 hectares in a location that fulfills future expansion requirements, set near Niamey’s largest modern hospital, which can serve to provide student training in medical specialties that the university offers within its plan.
Niamey Education Complex for Girls has a planned capacity for 2600 female students for education, while providing a dormitory that accommodates 950 girls. The Islamic University in Niger currently contains five faculties in different specialties, with graduates from more than 20 African counties. The University plays a vital role in propagating Arabic language and Islamic culture, particularly in West African countries.
Combating Ebola Virus in West African Countries
The Project’s cost is $35 million (SAR 131.25 million) representing King Abdullah’s contribution to international efforts to combat the Ebola epidemic that hit Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and many other West African countries in 2014 in a virus epidemic among the worst in history.
The Project included the construction of modern healthcare centers, equipping others, providing infrared thermal sensors to test for suspected viral infection, training teachers in targeted countries on Ebola prevention methods, and establishing sanitation projects to prevent spread of the disease.
The Project shifted to help prevent re-emergence of the epidemic since the WHO announced the elimination of Ebola in the beginning of January 2016.
Drilling Deep Groundwater Wells in Somalia
Drought hits Somalia more frequently than other countries and turns into a famine that devastates everything, and that has come to occur once each decade. Some 260,000 people, half of them children, died in the famine that swept the country in 2011-2012. Drought-caused suffering in Somalia was exacerbated by the long-standing civil war, and most of the international aid targeting the drought wave was temporary and superficial.
The SAR 100-million grant of King Abdullah, through Fael Khair program, was both a quick and strategic response to address the impact of drought waves in Somalia. King Abdullah was keen on addressing the root causes of the problem by drilling wells, some at a depth of 400 m in areas that sustained the most drought damage in Somalia.
Project implementer Islamic Development Bank Group carried out comprehensive hydrological, geophysical, social, and economic studies to select well locations prior to drilling, in coordination with concerned authorities and the Group’s consultants and contractors in Somalia.
The Project focuses on populations susceptible to drought cycles who live more than 10 km away from the nearest water source. It seeks to provide water for people, livestock, and harvest in regions most affected by drought, to avoid the recurrence of famine waves in the future. Despite security and technical challenges, the Project comprised drilling dozens of wells in targeted areas in south and central Somalia, and northern Somalia Province (Somaliland and Puntland), in addition to providing well accessories including pumps, power generators, and solar energy units. The Project also included building educational facilities and securing economic activities appropriate for the population after drilling wells and providing water.
Fostering Orphans of Tsunami Victims in Indonesia’s Aceh Province
The Project’s cost is SAR 35.25 million. It was ordered by King Abdullah when he was still Crown Prince and when Indonesia’s Aceh Province was hit by the tsunami on December 26th, 2004. He issued orders to launch an emergency humanitarian aid program to face the tsunami’s aftermath and repercussions.
His Majesty was concerned with the children who lost their whole families or lost some family members due to the tsunami and became orphaned. His big heart, gracious soul, and parental kindness rendered him the substitute family and father for these children. He personally fostered 2000 orphans, pushing others to follow his example until the number of fostered orphans reached 5310.
The Project aims at providing all requirements for a dignified and basic life for these children, including healthcare, education, entertainment and guidance, to ensure they are raised in suitable environments that enable them in their youth to join universities, integrate in society, and to ensure they access job opportunities after graduation and become able to participate in building their societies.
The Program’s operational steps include providing monthly living assistance for the orphans. The Project is designed to replace the orphans’ parents in meeting their emotional, economic, and educational needs, and providing integrated healthcare. It also provides qualification courses through training the orphans in vocational programs that begin in Secondary School stages to develop their numerous skills and prepare them for the labor market.
The generous care of His Majesty included inviting a number of the orphans to perform Umrah for several years. In addition, 44 orphan boys and 61 orphan girls performed Hajj hosted by King Abdullah, who provided them with the best possible hospitality and gave them personal gifts as a caring father.
Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Ali, former Head of Islamic Development Bank Group, paid many visits to the orphans to follow up on the care provided to them by the Program, to carry out His Majesty’s orders and reassure him that the orphan fostering program was being implemented in the best possible way.
Quick Response to the Second Wave of Drought in Somalia
A total of SAR 15 million was granted in humanitarian aid to face the aftermath of the second drought wave that hit Somalia in mid-2014, implementing King Abdullah’s orders to quickly respond to the disaster to save the population from thirst and starvation.
The aid benefited 35,600 families through the distribution of food packages. The emergency response also provided potable water in tanks and 300 ground reservoirs equipped with pumps and power generators that benefited 300,000 persons with their livestock in 8 Somalian provinces in central and southern Somalia. The Project also included, in its final stage in 2015, rehabilitating 13 artesian wells, drilling and constructing 12 groundwater reservoirs, building 4 agricultural irrigation channels, and rehabilitating 16 damaged channels to help farmers face drought.