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Islamic Relief staff distributing aid

South Africa

South Africa has one of the biggest and most developed economies in Africa, yet deep socio-economic inequalities remain. With 3.7 million orphans across South Africa, the largest concentration of HIV worldwide and more than half the population living below the national poverty line, South Africa faces a series of monumental challenges.

Over seven million people in South Africa are living with HIV/AIDS and with 270,000 new infections a year, South Africa has the largest concentration of HIV worldwide. Despite a drop in transmission rates, HIV/AIDS continues to remain the single leading cause of death across South Africa.

The high prevalence of this disease has multiple complex effects on society, including decreased earning power and rising numbers of child orphans with grandparents with parental responsibility for an increasing number of dependents. For those affected by the disease, impoverished living conditions place an even greater burden on their health and their families. The sicker the individuals, the less likely income can be generated to support themselves and their families.

With 55.5% of South Africans living below the national poverty line, many people do not have access to daily essentials and the necessary funds for healthcare.

The situation in South Africa

For large segments of the population in South Africa, life is a struggle.


of people living with HIV/AIDS are based in South Africa (UN AIDS, 2016)


of people do not have access to adequate sanitation facilities (World Bank, 2016)


of the population are unemployed (ILO, 2017)

1 in 25

children die before they reach their 5th birthday (World Bank, 2016)

Islamic Relief in South Africa

Islamic Relief South Africa was officially established in 2004, although its roots trace back to 2003 when it was founded in partnership with notable figures like Dr Hany El-banna and communities in South Africa. Our mission is clear: to assist vulnerable communities, both locally and globally, with an unwavering commitment to inclusivity and compassion.

Islamic Relief South Africa recognises the immense challenges faced by under-resourced and vulnerable communities in South Africa. Through our programmes, we address pertinent issues such as poverty, education, healthcare, and unemployment and create access to clean water and sanitation. We work alongside communities to build their resilience and bring about lasting change.

Our journey began with the orphan sponsorship programme in Johannesburg’s squatter camps, prioritizing children affected by HIV/AIDS. We expanded our initiatives over the years, establishing a clinic in 2003 to support children affected by HIV/AIDS with education and health programmes, a school in 2009, and pledging $10 million for the oncology unit of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital in 2016.

In times of crisis, we do not hesitate. Our first emergency response was to the Darfur crisis in 2003, followed by humanitarian assistance in global hotspots like the 2002 Iraq War and the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia, where Islamic Relief distributed vital life-saving aid to those in need.

The South African government’s Department of Social Development has recognised Islamic Relief as a key strategic partner in contributing to a food relief strategy, aiming for equitable distribution and safeguarding the well-being of those we serve, especially during health crises.

An exciting recent development is our partnership with the Western Cape Government’s Department of Social Development, which provided ZAR 4,000,000 to help disaster-affected households. We used this funding to distribute 10,000 food parcels, ensuring immediate support to those in need.

At Islamic Relief South Africa, our vision is crystal clear: we are dedicated to empowering individuals and communities, fulfilling social responsibilities, and responding with aid to those in need.

Our fundraising

One of our standout successes has been the For Kids by Kids’ initiative, a heart-warming campaign designed to raise funds for orphans. Through this dedicated effort, we made a significant impact by financing the construction of 110 homes in Syria. Today, our focus has evolved to cater to the immediate needs of our local community through various programmes, including livelihood support and ongoing support for orphans. We remain steadfast in our commitment to respond swiftly to diverse global emergencies.

People lining up to receive their qurbani meat.
Captions: Families queuing up to receive their Qurbani meat packages.
Throughout my volunteer journey with Islamic Relief, I've understood valuable values of respect, compassion, and humility. These core principles have played a pivotal role in shaping me into the mindful and compassionate Muslim I am today.

Galeema Moyce, volunteer

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