Saturday, July 16, 2011

Ramadan in Africa

Fasting during Ramadan is strictly adhered to in countries where there's a large Islamic population. Throughout North Africa the vast majority of the population will fast, this includes Morocco, Western Sahara, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, and Libya. In East and West Africa the predominantly Islamic countries include Djibouti, Sudan, Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Somalia. Zanzibar (Tanzania), and Kenya's coastal towns (Mombasa, Malindi, Lamu), also have large Islamic populations.

Muslims account for over half the population in as many as 28 African countries including Nigeria and Ethiopia which given the predominance of churches everywhere you would traditionally think of it as a Christian country. Muslims in Africa account for about a third of all Muslims world wide and Islam is also the fastest growing religion in Africa.

Would you skip lunch to sponsor an iftar for a starving family? As the holy month of Ramadan approaches, millions of Muslims are living without food and water in the Horn of Africa region. According to aid agencies, up to 12 million people living in remote areas across Ethiopia , Kenya and Somalia are faced with starvation.

Most of the affected areas are inhabited by Muslims, which would make the month of fasting even tougher on them if aid agencies and well-wishers don’t intervene swiftly!

As the number of hungry people rises, more resources will be needed to meet the need for food assistance. The WFP estimates that around US$477 million is needed to address hunger needs in the region through to the end of the year.

Currently, it has a 40% shortfall in funding, with about US$190 million still needed. The mainly Muslim East and Horn of Africa region, the focus now is on Muslim organisations to be at the forefront of lending a hand.

Some are are now calling on Muslims to launch a campaign where they skip lunch and donate those funds to feed a hungry family for iftar as their effort to ease the famine. The call comes as Muslims prepare to fast from dawn to dusk in order to physical feel the pangs of hunger felt by those less fortunate and is a month characterised by the spirit of generosity and compassion.

Meanwhile, the African Union called Tuesday on the international community to come to the aid of Somalia, where one in three people are suffering from the combined effect of unrest and drought. "Close to three million people, that is one in three Somalis, are in need of humanitarian assistance," said the AU in a statement. "This has led to major displacements into urban areas, in particular Mogadishu, as well as in neighbouring countries.