In 2008, the world was rocked by spiralling food prices brought on by a variety of reasons including high energy prices, climate change, bio fuel production and declining agricultural production in the face of increasing demand.
The poor are the hardest hit, with no means to cushion themselves from the rise in prices. In Sri Lanka, for example, the cost of rice has more than doubled in the past year, sharply increasing food budgets. As a result the poor have to cut back on their meals, leaving them prone to malnutrition, especially in children, pregnant women and the elderly.
Choosing "Fast To Feed" as its theme, Muslim Aid Sri Lanka identified the poorest districts in the country to distribute 2,600 dry ration packs to feed a family of five for a week and hold Iftars with discussions on food security through its local partners and community-based Organisations.
Community Ifthars were held in 60 villages in Sri Lanka's 10 poorest districts, where people were encouraged to identify their food supply and food security issues and come up with possible solutions as well as an action plan which attempted to address these issues. Muslim Aid Sri Lanka will assist the villagers to carry out their plans where possible.
"So far it has been an eye opener for many people. Raising awareness of food issues was the main aim of our Ramadan programme this year. We want people to understand why they are having problems and to come up with solutions themselves," said Muslim Aid Sri Lanka's Head of Operations, Ishak Ahmad.
Muslim Aid Sri Lanka, in association with the World Health Organisation, AmeriCares, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies (CHA), also organised a "Walk 2 Feed" to raise awareness of the global food crisis, which drew some 150 participants.
Throughout the next 12 months, Muslim Aid Sri Lanka will raise funds to supplement the food needs of 200 families in the Hambantota and Trincomalee districts for one year at the cost of Rs18,000 per family.