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FOOD POVERTY IN PAKISTAN

What are the statistics?

The Karachi floods, paired with an ongoing global pandemic, have severely impacted the already unstable economy of Pakistan, and the most affected by these circumstances are still the poor and needy, who were struggling to afford one meal a day even before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Before the pandemic:

  • 60% of the population was struggling to find enough food to eat on a daily basis.
  • 44% of Pakistan’s under-five children were malnourished and stunted.
  • Women and children were particularly affected by malnutrition, with only 15% of the children having access to a decent diet in the whole country.

Today, because of the new cuts in their wages prompted by the onset of the pandemic and the devastating effects of the floods on agriculture, many more Pakistanis are facing food insecurity across the country.

Food Accessibility and Economy

In general, food accessibility is highly vulnerable to economic and environmental shocks and Pakistan’s food security has been declining since the 2000s, following a series of natural disasters, conflicts, and economic crises. This is especially true in rural communities, where agriculture is the main source of food and income for poor families.

However, a rise in agricultural production isn’t necessarily a solution to the food poverty issue. For example, wheat plays an essential role in Pakistani diets, accounting for half of the calories consumed by every individual, which makes it an irreplaceable ingredient across the country.

But, many poor people can’t afford to grow their own wheat cultures. In fact, the majority of those living in Pakistan’s rural areas have to buy wheat and other essential foods, which leaves them vulnerable to wheat price fluctuations. So, the common practice of keeping wheat prices high to boost rural economy can do more harm than good.

This is why our work at Ummah is more important than ever. Given the link between economy and food poverty in Pakistan, we can create real change for the entire country by empowering people at an individual level – giving more people the means to cultivate their own food and create sustainability in their own lives creates economic growth within the community, which will later expand to a national level.

The UCI team is on the ground every single day aiming to alleviate food poverty in Pakistan through the distribution of food packs and hot meals, as well as through our sustainability projects meant to empower the most vulnerable in the ummah of Muhammad (pbuh): orphans, widows, the elderly and the poor.

Feeding the Poor in the Ummah  

Feeding the Ummah of Muhammad (pbuh) is an act of love for Allah (swt). But it is also an act of self-love, because the Muslim ummah is like a body – when a limb aches, the whole body aches. So, when the neediest in our community are being overlooked, the whole community suffers the consequences of this inequality.

“Humankind was one single Ummah. And God sent messengers with glad tidings and warnings; and with them He sent the Scriptures in truth, to judge between people in matters wherein they differed…” (Quran 2:213).”

Just like the Quran says, there is only one ummah in the world that includes all those united in faith irrespective of their nationality, background, race, or income. So, why not extend your Sadaqah to a brother or sister in need from a poor country?

Through Ummah Charity International, you can easily feed a neighbour from abroad.

Feeding the Poor in Islam

What do we know about feeding the poor in Islam from the Quran and our Prophet’s (pbuh) hadiths?

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) teaches that, on the Day of Resurrection, Allah Almighty will say:

“…O son of Adam, I asked you for food and you fed Me not. He will say: O Lord, and how should I feed You when You are the Lord of the worlds? He will say: Did you not know that My servant so-and-so asked you for food and you fed him not? Did you not know that had you fed him you would surely have found that (the reward for doing so) with Me?” [Muslim]

This means that each time we give food to an individual in need it is as if we give food to Allah (swt) Himself and we will be blessed for this act of Sadaqah both in this life and in Jannah.

The Quran also says: “And they give food, out of love for Him, to the poor and the orphan and the captive, [saying] “We feed you, for Allah’s pleasure only — We desire from you neither reward nor thanks. Surely, we fear from our Lord a stern, distressful day” (Qur’an 76:5-12).

So, the simple act of giving food is a great way to please Allah Almighty. It is single-handedly one of the easiest ways to earn prayers and rewards and make a meaningful change in someone’s life.

And, because “Allah will deprive usury of all blessing, but will give increase for deeds of charity: for He loves not creatures ungrateful and sinner” (Qur’an, 2: 276), we should never fear that such an act will decrease from our wealth. On the contrary, whatever you give multiplies! This is how big Allah’s generosity is towards those who care for the needy.

The Prophet (saw) said, ‘He is not a believer whose stomach is filled while the neighbour to his side goes hungry’. (Bayhaqi)

With the help of your generous Zakat and Sadaqah donations, the UCI team has been following the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) since 2014. Despite the new challenges ahead, we are increasing our efforts to feed the most vulnerable people across Pakistan, from those displaced by floods to the children, widows and elders most exposed to the global pandemic.

Last year alone:

  • Ummah Charity International fed 6,090 needy people across crisis-hit areas in Pakistan through our Cooked Food Distribution Project. And, because many poor people across the country suffer from a high calorie and protein deficit, we have chosen the most nutritious ingredients for our foods and cooked the meals ourselves in UCI’s designated kitchens.
  • Although we aim to distribute food to the needy all year round, a significant delivery of hot meals rich in meat, lentils and rice was made during the holy month of Muharram with the support of our Chairman, Mufti Abdul Wahab.
  • Our seasonal projects are at the heart of our charity. Despite all obstacles, your donations enabled Ummah to impart 13, 360 food packs last Ramadan and provide 5,000 individuals with hot Iftar meals. For many, Ramadan was the only time in the year when they had a nutritious meal.

Today, we need your help to continue feeding the ummah in these challenging times. Donate a food pack to help a brother and sister in need during the pandemic.

But giving water to our ummah has an even deeper meaning – our Prophet (pbuh) reveals it by saying: “The Muslim Ummah is like one body. If the eye is in pain, then the whole body is in pain and if the head is in pain then the whole body is in pain.” [Rasullullah]

So, how can we separate ourselves from the struggles of our brothers and sisters when Allah (swt) has made us in togetherness? Having access to water is a fundamental human right and satisfying this right is the best kind of Sadaqah.

Thanks to your generous donations, the UCI team have already given hope to ummah by installing 256 water wells and 2,864 hand water pumps across Pakistan, which have, inevitably, led to improved sanitation and better physical and mental well-being for all beneficiaries involved. Let’s continue the work together!