Hunger and Starvation in Somalia: Are We Doing Enough?


In this month of Ramadan, those who listen to the huffaz reciting the Quran during Taraweeh prayers and those who read the Quran on their own will come across some of the verses that perhaps might be the most relevant ones for us in the times we are living.

We would read the verse four of Sura 106 (106:4) that describes Allah as the one "who has given them food against hunger, and made them safe from danger." We will also read the verse eight of sura 76, (76:8) "And they feed, for the love of Allah, the indigent, the orphan and the captives. And in sura 90 verse fourteen (90:14) describing the most challenging task for human beings and believers specifically, we are reminded of a group of people who feed people on a day of hunger.

Doubtlessly Allah has given abundant food against hunger. Yet millions are suffering from hunger all over the world. In Somalia alone, hundreds are dying each day of starvation. So where is the food that Allah has provided the people with? In Italy alone, 1.5 million ton of food is wasted every year because farmers do not want to sell their crops at a cheaper price. Estimates of how much food we toss in the US vary, but according to Jonathan Bloom, author of American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It), we're wasting around 40 percent of the total. The leading English magazine the Economist recently wrote the following:

The average American wastes 1,400 kilocalories a day. That amounts to 150 trillion kilocalories a year for the country as a whole-about 40 percent of its food supply, up from 28 percent in 1974. Producing these wasted calories accounts for more than one-quarter of America's consumption of freshwater, and also uses about 300 million barrels of oil a year. On top of that, a lot of methane (a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide) emerges when all this food rots.

These figures are about just few countries out of 200 plus countries in the world. Obviously, when the food is not brought in the market due to cheap prices and some 40 per cent of what is cooked is wasted, one cannot blame God for failing in his promise.

The blame can certainly be placed on those who speak in the name of God. Why are they not raising the awareness about hunger and disproportionate distribution and known wastage of resources? There is hardly anyone talking about the unjust distribution system that exists in our world. How much food the Muslim community is wasting? All you need to do is look at the dumpster at a mosque that is serving iftar and dinner to the community. You will not be surprised to find the similarity between the national and Muslim pattern of wastage.

Hardly anyone is talking about sacrifice for the betterment of the world.

Economists describes the situation in terms of world food prices and its impact on future economy. Politicians, depending on whose money they are using to get re elected, would talk about the poverty without ever doing anything to change the situation. As Muslims, we need to act on the divine message that those who prefer the needs of others over their own comfort are indeed the ones successful in this life and the life hereafter. It is the quality of sacrificing for others that is the foundation for a better world and better commitment to Allah. For a rich man who does not know the limit of his wealth, spending a few hundred thousands is nothing. However, when the responsibilities are limited to only two and a half percent of one's savings regardless of the savings and regardless of the means of earning, the results would not be different.

The crisis in Somalia can be resolved through our sacrifice for the sake of humanity. We are capable of doing that. But we need to get organized, which often we are not.
We need to do the following to help improve the situation in Somalia and other places.

1. On an emergency basis our relief organizations survey the availability of food at a low prices in a world market.

2. On a longer term basis, a proper survey of putting an irrigation system with the possibility of growing new high yielding crops can be made to plan for the future.

3. Our entrepreneurs work in coordination with these agencies to produce and prepare cooked nutritious food to serve those who are in need.

4. Our masses demonstrate the quality of sacrifice in their life style. Every time we eat a meal, we make it a habit of donating amount at least half or one quarter of the amount of the meal we eating and give it to an organization that knows how to do the job right.

If the 4 plus million Muslim community saves a quarter each meal, it alone can generate resources to do everything that is mentioned above. But this would happen only when we are willing to sacrifice and willing to heed to the divine call beyond the call of our duty.

One of the steps that American Muslim Relief organizations should have taken is to organize a summit to discuss this humanitarian crisis so that all could coordinate their resources and direct them to appropriate actions. But then that would require sacrifice on the part of the leadership. If they want people to sacrifice their monetary resources, they have to show they are willing to tame their egos and willing to sacrifice their organizational popularity for a goal much bigger than that: serving the creation of God on a day when some of it may be hungry. (90:13)

A worrying alarm arrives now from the Italian Farmers Associatio mass amounts of food is sitting and rotting in their fields because sale prices don't cover all of the costs of production. The result is a 1.5 million of tons wasted every year and 4 billion of Euro frittered away. All this with rising costs for Italian consumers and farmers.


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  8 Comments   Comment

  1. jhrstbs from usa

    get the americans and euros out of africka, and their problem will be on the way out. they are the problem and not the soulution. the saudis, and other gulf, and arab regimes throw away enough to the americans and other enemies of islam in one day to solve every problem of need and hunger in the islamic world for years to come

  2. Andrew D. from US

    This is a really good article. It resonates with me. I just can't believe how much we waste all across the world. AND WE CALL OURSELVES RATIONAL BEINGS!!!! How are we rational when we act this way?? Why??

    We need to spread awareness. And we need to take action on a massive scale. Hunger and starvation are grave, evil, and thoroughly unjust. Thank you for this article.

  3. Aslam Abdullah from USA

    We always find one or the other excuse not to do things that we are required to do and we always blame others for that. In that respect some of us are not different than the Somali terrorist organization Al-Shabab that has spread havoc in the name of Islam. they also blame others for forcing them to kill innocent people. Their scholars are the criminals. Unfortunately, they represent a Muslim view point that always blames others for their ills. 

    If the sister feels that she is not allowed to work for humanitarian cause for the Somalis in SOmalia because of Al-Shabab, She can work in Kenya, or Sub-Sahara Africa. If she feels that those places are too far, she does not have to go further. Right in the down town of any big city she can find hundreds of homeless, hungry, deprived and starving. We cannot blame Al-Shabab for that.

    Those who prevent others from doing good things as well as those who are indifferent towards good things are similar in their attitude.

    There is no excuse for not doing anything.

  4. Rebecca from USA

    You forget to mention the fact that humanitarian organizations are being kept out of Somalia by the islamist group Al-Shabab.. don't you think that's an important part to mention? That charities are trying to help but are being kept out. Al Shabab would rather have Somalian children starve to death than accept western aid.

    As a Muslim I find it shameful and I find it surprising that you can't even mention it in your article. Lay blame where it's due.

  5. kaltoun from u.s

    Thank you for this article. iI is a wake up call and we need to do as a moslim what ever we can help them. We need to do long solution for somalia farmers. Please don't stop talking about them.

  6. Romesh Chander from usa

    Are we doing enough? The question should be, should the world do anything at all for hunger in Somilia? After all, this is not the first time, Somilia had famine. Remember, 1990's. So, what did Somilia do to eradicate famine? Oh, they destroyed the government; now nobody is there to plan and do anything.

    I say, leave Somilia alone. The world has absolutely no responsibility to them. If God wishes, let Him take care of the problem. Otherwise, people there are on their own. Nobody owes them anything, at all.

    Irresponsibility should not be rewarded. When are the people and governments in the Middle East going to become responsible? Yankee Imperialists did not come there and create this mess.

    Sorry, no sympathies. Any way, symapthies don't put food on the table either.

  7. A K M Mohiuddin from Bangladesh

    May Allah bless the good Brother for his wake up call in the Blessed Ramadan. It seems most of us have fallen into the category of Muslims Allah dislikes: those who believe in parts of the Qur'an, not the whole of it. The Muslim mind appears to be strangely mutilated. Otherwise, how can fellow Muslims go hungry even during the Ramdan, a month of boundless blessings? Then we have lost our capability to organise ourselves and work together for any collective good. A very pathetic sight for Muslims!

  8. Imtiaz from Japan

    ALhamdolilaha very good article but we need to do it practically.We need to make some united wasteproduct organisation (UWO)whose aim is to grab the food from the farmers as a donation instead of garbaging the product when they cant get the aspected price.

    In pune city in India,they collect all the remain food from the restaurant chain in the night & distribute to the poor needy people every early morning by maintaining the proper hygiene.

    Islam promotes no waste policy ,so let follow it with its true spirit & feed the food to Hunger from the abundant provided by Allah .Allah has provided food to all but we people waste & make poor die os starvation.