Charities plan food aid for struggling Egyptians during Ramadan
Millions of Egyptians struggling to cope with economic hardship caused by austerity measures will get some relief during the coming Muslim holy month of Ramadan, as charities offer food aid to needy families.
Volunteers have been busy preparing half a million staple food boxes for the poor. Others are preparing to set up 60 massive tents across the country to serve the iftar meals that follow dawn-to-dusk fasting during Ramadan.
"We are giving out the largest box in Egypt," said Sherif Azzouz, head of the volunteer network at Misr El Kheir, one of the charities involved.
Each box weighs 25 kg and contains 16 products, including rice, pasta, ghee, sugar, flour, orzo, wheat and tea.
"This goes to all those who have been deemed eligible by Misr El Kheir and any of our partner charities, and are distributed in Upper Egypt, starting from Fayoum to Aswan, and also in some parts of the Delta," he told journalists.
Azzouz said Misr El Kheir, working with other smaller charities, hoped to feed a total of 10 million fasting people across 22 of the country's 27 provinces.
The Challenges of Ramadan
For one month a year, the daily routines of Muslims are determined not only by prayer rituals, but also by sunrise and sunset. During the hours of daylight, the faithful are required to desist from eating and drinking and instead exercise self-discipline and abstinence. But for many Muslims, Ramadan brings with it a whole host of other challenges.
1. A time for reflection
2. Fasting in high summer
3. Physical austerity
4. White nights
5. Sustainable Ramadan
6. Olympic Games
9. Religious aspirations and reality
Egypt has imposed tough economic reforms under a $12 billion IMF loan programme, including deep cuts to energy subsidies and new taxes that have brought hardship for many.
A currency float in late 2016 caused Egypt's pound to roughly halve in value, pushing prices sharply higher in the import-dependent country.
Food demand soars during Ramadan as families stock up on supplies, causing further price rises.
Ahead of Ramadan, Egypt's Ministry of Supply said it was storing essential goods at state outlets and selling subsidised products to keep prices under control.
"One of our larger contributions is around 3.5 billion Egyptian pounds worth of subsidised products that are available to 70 million citizens," said Mohamed Sweed, a ministry spokesman. They include sugar, oil, rice and pasta.
Ramadan is expected to start in Egypt on 17 May this year. The first day of the holy month often varies from country to country, depending on lunar sightings. (Reuters)