Despite rising inflation and soaring commodity prices in Uganda, grocery stores are overcrowded with Turkish charities ahead of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.
It can be seen in Kisenyi, a suburb of the capital Kampala, at one of the leading wholesale markets.
Consumers are buying tons of rice and maize flour more than usual, not for extra consumption but to distribute to the less fortunate.
“There are many people who need food aid to fulfill their obligation of fasting. In a concerted effort, we will distribute food packages to more than 3,000 people most in need. The goal is to make it easy for them to be able to fast,” Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) coordinator in Uganda Omer Aykon told Anadolu Agency.
Nationwide commodity prices have been rising at a fast rate in the last two months, meaning it costs more to put food on the table and provide for a family.
Some food items have increased by more than 50% while essential commodities like soap have increased 100%.
Turkish Ambassador to Uganda Fikret Kerem Alp said his country will continue to support the less privileged in times of need.
“In view of economic deprivation, myself, Turkish people and well-wishers will be taking part in a series of activities through Ramadan to support as much as possible those in need,” said Alp.
Alp will distribute hundreds of food packages to Katwe, a slum in the nation’s capital of Kampala, along with Minister For Kampala Capital City & Metropolitan Affairs Hajjat Minsa Kabanda.
Member of Parliament for Yumbe in northern Uganda, Naima Melsa Gule Avako, said in a meeting with Alp that the number of people asking for aid has increased and she requested that the Turkish Embassy extend Ramadan support to Yumbe which hosts 1 million refugees, especially from South Sudan.
Other charities are doing their best to close the gap by providing food and other essential items to disadvantaged communities.
Pan-African Muslim Journalists Association (PAMOJA), a networking group of journalists, is running a “One for me, one for you” campaign to give Qurans, dates and iftar dinners. Iftar is the meal Muslims have when they break their fasts.
It is also providing new clothes to mark the end of the holy month. One of the traditions of ending Ramadan is shopping for new clothes, meeting friends and relatives, and looking and smelling good.
Diyanet, Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs is also providing food.
“We are buying as much as we can to support as many as possible, due to the rising demand,” a Diyanet official in Uganda told Anadolu Agency. Food packages contain cooking oil, beans, rice, sugar and maize, among others.
Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), another prominent Turkish charity, is set to distribute Ramadan relief items in Uganda.
Muhammet Emin Esmer, IHH’s official in charge for East and Southern Africa said his group is duty-bound to provide relief during the holy month and will be in Uganda to extend a helping hand.
“Ramadan is the perfect time to help, especially those people who lost their businesses and jobs over the past years due to COVID-19. We will be distributing assorted food packages in different parts of Uganda to help such people,” Agha Aslam, media coordinator for Pakistani Association in Uganda told Anadolu Agency.