ICRC has set up world’s first ‘humanitarian impact bond’

13 Sep 17

The International Committee of the Red Cross has set up the world’s first humanitarian impact bond, worth more than 26m Swiss francs (£20m), for rehabilitation centres in Africa. 

The money raised by the payment-by-results programme will go towards building and running three new centres to help people with disabilities in Nigeria, Mali and Democratic Republic of Congo.

It will also pay for training new staff, and testing and implementing new efficiency initiatives for these centres. 

The programme is a private placement with initial payments made by social investors. After a five-year period, governments of Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, the UK and the Spanish banking foundation la Caixa will be expected to pay according to the results achieved.

The governments’ payments will be used to pay back the social investors partially, in full or with additional return, depending on the efficiency of the new centres. 

The funding mechanism was created to encourage social investment from the private sector, as rising numbers of conflicts, and a growing annual budget of the ICRC, drives forces for the new funding model.

Peter Maurer, the ICRC’s president, said the bond is a “radical, innovative but at the same time, logical step for the ICRC” and an opportunity to modernise the existing humanitarian action model to increase support to people in need.

“We hope that once the pilot project is proven, it will demonstrate that non-traditional financing models can work,” he said.

The ICRC is the largest provider for physical rehabilitation services in developing countries.

Last year, the Physical Rehabilitation Programme operated 139 projects in 34 countries, providing physiotherapy and mobility devices to almost 330,000 people. 

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