This year’s global Ramadan food distribution campaign was the most successful ever, with food packs worth £7.5 million being distributed across the world, including every continent.
With these generously donated funds, Islamic Relief distributed more than 235,000 large food packs in 35 countries, reaching more than 1.4 million people.
Our teams reached some of the poorest and most remote and dangerous places in the world, including in Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Yemen.
In charge of the whole global operation is Zaheer Afzal, Seasonal Programmes Manager. Explaining how we manage to reach such remote communities he says:
“Our biggest strength is that we have local offices with staff and partners on the ground across the countries where we work all year round and they have excellent relations established with local community leaders and authorities on the ground. This means we can get to some areas where many other organisations can’t. It’s about locals helping locals.
“In Chad, our staff travelled for two whole days to reach refugees from the Central African Republic and in Pakistan, our staff travelled to the most remote mountainous areas in the north of the country. In Afghanistan, beneficiaries travelled for miles on donkeys to meet our staff in some of the most remote and challenging areas of the country.”
Before carrying out the distributions we do a needs assessment to make sure that the food packs will meet those most in need. And this means people of all faiths and none.
All the food is procured locally and is tailored to local tastes or needs.
“For example, in African countries they like millet and flour and extra sugar,” explains Zaheer. “. In Bangladesh they like rice, chickpeas and lentils. In Somalia, they don’t even have basic foodstuffs so we make sure we provide this.”
It is a massive operation from start to finish, starting with the needs assessment, then transferring the funds, procuring the food at a decent price and then organising the logistics for the distribution.
Zaheer is very proud of the teams who carry out the work.
“Many of the staff are operating in extreme temperatures while they are fasting but this doesn’t hinder their work. In fact, sometimes when they return they say more people need our help, can we please distribute some more.”
When all of this work is finished there is no time to rest as we have already started organising the Qurbani distributions for Eid Al-Adha.
Zaheer explains: “Time is of the essence as food prices increase in the run up to Eid Al-Adha, just as they do for Eid Al-Fitr. We need to make sure we get the best possible prices so we can reach as many people as possible.”
For more information about our Ramadan 2017 distribution please click here.