Did you know that one of the Diamond Jubilee goals is poverty alleviation?

“I have sought to underwrite our endeavours in social development with initiatives designed to promote economic progress. The two are inextricably linked and must remain so if people are not to be faced with the unacceptable choice between the poverty of the economics of welfare, on the one hand, and raw material greed untempered by any social conscience, on the other.”
Mawlana Hazar Imam, Speech at the Dinner hosted by the Globe and Mail, Toronto, Canada, May 14, 1987

Previously, we explored our responsibility in realizing the social conscience of Islam and sparking a light of hope for ourselves and others. This article will look at how the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) works to break the cycle of poverty. 

How does the AKDN work to break the cycle of poverty?

The AKDN strives to bring people out of poverty and enable them to participate in the social and economic mainstream. Instead of simply giving people money or food, which are most certainly needed, the AKDN instead teaches people how to save their own money and provide food for their families themselves. This approach to poverty alleviation gives hope because it retains people’s own dignity and makes them self-reliant.

As Mawlana Hazar Imam said at the Prince Claus Fund’s Conference on culture and development in 2002, “development is sustainable only if the beneficiaries become, in a gradual manner, the masters of the process. This means that initiatives cannot be contemplated exclusively in terms of economics, but rather as an integrated programme that encompasses social and cultural dimensions as well.”                                                                                   

What does Mawlana Hazar Imam see as the challenges facing the AKDN?

In a speech by Mawlana Hazar Imam at ‘The Marketplace on Innovative Financial Solutions for Development’ in 2010, he explains more about the challenges faced by the AKDN:

Over these fifty years, the world has made enormous, indeed breathtaking progress in many areas, but often where the needs are most urgent, our progress has been too slow. We have learned how to address particular symptoms of poverty, but unforeseen variables have diluted our impact. Perhaps most importantly, we have often failed to predict and to pre-empt tragic developments, such as famines and civil conflicts, even when they have been brewing over decades of despair.                                        

The recent economic crisis has deepened such problems, adding to the urgency of our mission. Time is therefore more of the essence than ever before, and unless we can markedly accelerate our performance, our tasks will be further multiplied. Confronting these challenges, creatively and urgently, is nothing short of a moral imperative.

So the issue comes back to how do you translate international public will to support, into effective action in countries; the poorest countries of our world. That is the problem we deal with every day in the Aga Khan Development Network.

What are the AKDN and the Jamat doing to help tackle poverty alleviation as part of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee goals?

During this Diamond Jubilee year, there are two ways in which the AKDN and Jamat are responding to this goal. The first is through strengthening the Jamati and AKDN institutional response to poverty alleviation, by providing services such as stable housing and secure living environments. Through initiatives like these, AKDN programs will work with those in situations of poverty to find the means to earn their own livelihood and become self-reliant. 

The second way is by providing access to finance. The poor are often unable to access funds for their endeavours, either due to a lack of credit, documentation, or simply a lack of banks in remote areas. This goal is a response to Jamati needs for access to finance for education, health, housing and to start small businesses. Self-help groups and microfinance initiatives bring financing opportunities to people around the world.

To learn more about the AKDN’s work to break the cycle of poverty visit:

  1. Aga Khan Development Network
  2. Speech: Mawlana Hazar Imam, Marketplace on Innovative Financial Solutions for Development, France, 2010
  3. Speech: Prince Claus Fund’s Conference on culture and development, Netherlands, 2002
  4. Video: Aga Khan Development Network

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