Renée LaReau | February 29, 2020
As a master of global affairs student, Ahmed Makki spent the summer of 2019 working in Bidi Bidi, Uganda, Africa’s largest refugee settlement. A second-year student from Lahore, Pakistan, Makki was part of a student team that collaborated with Catholic Relief Services staff in Bidi Bidi, home to 250,00 people who have fled the civil war in neighboring South Sudan.
Through a year-long collaboration between Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the Keough School’s Integration Lab (i-Lab), Makki and his classmates conducted research on financial services offered to displaced persons in Bidi Bidi. Focusing on assistance provided through cash transfers, the student team created a country report and toolkit for emergency response and humanitarian aid practitioners striving for greater financial inclusion among displaced populations.
As a practicing Muslim, Makki brought a valuable perspective to CRS as he and his classmates researched the role of cash transfers in humanitarian aid.
“Financial inclusion—adequate access to financial services—looks different for everyone depending on their context, and people have to be supported through different angles,” Makki said. Agencies such as CRS can improve the effectiveness of their programs by considering elements of Islamic finance, he said.
For example, cash transfer programs could be funded with Islamic charity funds: zakat, a mandatory form of almsgiving for Muslims who meet the necessary criteria for wealth, or sadqa, charitable giving done out of compassion or friendship.
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