Jersey joins Comic Relief in £8m Africa aid project

- Advertisement -

The four-year project, which was unveiled on Monday, aims to give people and small businesses in Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Zambia access to affordable financial services, including bank accounts, savings, insurance and credit.

Jersey Overseas Aid says the scheme will enable low-income households to plan for long-term goals and unexpected emergencies.

Over the next four years, JOA and Comic Relief will each contribute £1 million annually to the programme – which will be co-ordinated jointly between St Helier and London – resulting in a project total of £8 million.

Deputy Carolyn Labey, chairwoman of JOA, said the programme ‘has the ability to change lives’ and added that it will enable Jersey, which is often accused of being a tax haven, to change the ‘narrative’ as it will use its financial expertise to help vulnerable people.

‘Financial inclusion is very important in under-developed countries,’ she said. ‘It can help people by helping them to build their resilience. It helps people plan and save and helps them cope with an unexpected shock, such as if a family member becomes ill.

‘They don’t, for example, have to sell their goat or productive asset which will put them back into poverty. It enables people to plan for the future. It enables them to plan if a family member wants to go off and be better educated.’

She added that when people have access to financial services ‘everyone benefits’ as people save more, spend more on healthcare and education and are able to manage risk as well as invest in small enterprises.

Since its inception, JOA has helped many countries across the globe. Last year, with the Syrian civil war still raging, JOA focused its aid efforts on Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, backing projects including schools, water distribution and a medical clinic.

Jersey also contributed £1 million in emergency grants to Nepal following a devastating earthquake in 2015 which destroyed half a million homes and killed more than 8,000 people.

Deputy Labey said it was ‘fantastic’ that the partnership with Comic Relief had come during the JOA’s 50th anniversary year.

‘Comic Relief is one of the UK’s most cherished charities,’ she said. ‘I think the fact that Comic Relief is partnering with us just demonstrates that they regard us as a serious, international development agency, which is fantastic for Jersey.

‘The work we are going to be doing with them has the ability to change lives.’

Deputy Labey said the programme was something the Island should be ‘enormously proud of’ and allowed Jersey to move away from false accusations that it is a tax haven.

‘With the financial expertise we have got in the Island, to use it in this way for financial inclusion for third world countries changes the narrative,’ she said.

A number of organisations have been invited to apply for multi-year projects with the first grants expected to be awarded by the autumn of this year. The programme will also promote policy change, where needed, in the target countries to ensure access to financial services is open to everyone.

Ruth Davison, Comic Relief’s executive director of impact and investment, said: ‘Financial inclusion is a pioneering area of development which can transform the lives of individuals, families and communities permanently.

‘As a hub of financial services expertise, along with their 50 years of experience funding international development, Jersey Overseas Aid was a natural partner. Together, we have bold ambitions in Sierra Leone, Zambia and Rwanda.’

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Latest Stories

- Advertisement -

UK News

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Read the latest free supplements

Read the Town Crier, Le Rocher and a whole host of other subjects like mortgage advice, business, cycling, travel and property.