A number of NGOs and relief organisations around Cape Town have vowed to step up their food distributions during Ramadan even though the price of basic food items have risen significantly over the past year. NGOs will now have to raise extra funds in order to meet their food distribution targets and reach not only the same amount of people that they did in previous years, but more people as food inflation is having a significant impact on the poor who cannot afford the price of basic food items.
According to reports data from the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) indicates that world food prices declined by 18.5% last year. In contrast‚ Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) measured a 5% increase in the cost of its benchmark food basket during 2015.
Fazlin Fransman of Islamic Relief South Africa (IRSA) says that raising funds requires NGOs to be very innovative these days.
“In the past few years we have seen a five percent growth which indicates that the Muslim community is dedicated irrespective of what the economy is at the time,” says Fransman.
“Yes we do get funds and donations from our community but we also get donations from abroad so you have people in Canada, in the US people in the UK donating; so there is an understanding that South Africa has a deep need for aid.”
Yasmina Franke from the South African National Zakah Fund (Sanzaf) says their organisation will be targeting 23 000 families with fitra hampers nationally. On average number they would be reaching over 100 000 people.
“We are finding that more people are in need. We know that the unemployment rates are high we know that food prices are rising constantly, we just had a recent petrol price increase so all of that has an impact on the cost of food,” says Franke.
One example Franke cited is the fact that last year a packet of lentils cost the organisation R9 and this year the price has gone up tremendously to R17.
“Thus, the only way we are going to do justice to the mandate that we have been given is if the Muslims in the Western Cape continue to do what they have been doing for many years and for the 42 years that SANZAF has been in operation,” Franke went further.
Ghaironesa Johnstone of the Mustadafin Foundation agrees that the food price increase is a major problem.
“The price of bread has risen, milk has risen…we are getting milk at a discount price and yet it is far more expensive than it was last year.”
“We are asking the community to support us, but people who were able to support us last year are also in difficulty this year. This is the reality of what is happening. People who had jobs have unfortunately lost their jobs, so people who have previously come in and given us their donation are now just making ends meet in order to survive,” Johnstone explained.
Imran Choonara of Africa Muslims Agency (AMA) says his organisation has had to allocate more funds to this year’s Ramadan project to feed the amount of people that they hope to feed.
“We have actually allocated more funds for this year’s Ramadan because we believe that Allah will bring it. It doesn’t matter what is going on in the world of finance, in Gods court there is no limit,” Choonara stated.
“We start with the premise that Allah will provide because he provides, to answer the question frankly, we do plan to reach more than a million people, because we have allocated more money to it because we believe that the donors will give it and we believe Allah will provide it.”
Various factors are contributing to the food price increase, from the petrol price hike, to the drought and even the weak rand, which means foods that are imported will cost the South African consumer much more than it previously did.
VOC (Umarah Hartley]