KARACHI - An unexpected decline in prices of animal hides over the crippling economic crisis in European markets is casting a shadow over operations of Islamic charities to help poor people in Pakistan.
We do not have sufficient orders from Europe, which is our major market, for coming years, Gulzar Feroz, chairman of All Pakistan Tannery Association (APTA), told OnIslam.net on Wednesday, October 31.
That's why the prices of hides have reduced this year.
He cites the growing financial crunch in Europe as a main reason behind the decline in demands for animal hides, forcing local tanneries to avoid further buying of skins.
Prices of animals, which are used as sacrifice during `Eid Al-Adha, which ended on Monday, have shot up by 20 to 30 percent this year.
However, prices of animal hides have witnessed a downhill trend due to tanneries' lukewarm response.
We already have ample stock (hides). What would we do with more stocks when we do not have any orders, Feroz maintained.
According to estimates, around 10 million animals have been sacrificed across Pakistan on `Eid Al-Adha.
The majority of Pakistani Muslims have donated the skins of their animals to Islamic charities, madrassahs, and Islamic centers, enabling them to meet their yearly expenses.
Hide collection has been one of the major income sources for Islamic charities in Pakistan for last decades.
Islamic charities, on an average, meet between 30 to 50 percent of their yearly expenses through hide collections.
According to a random market survey, a cow skin is being bought at RS 2000 (22 dollars) to Rs 2500 (28 dollars) against Rs 3000 (35 dollars) to Rs 4000 (45 dollars) last year.
Similarly, a goat or sheep skin is being bought at Rs 350 (4 dollars) to Rs 400 (5 dollars) compared to Rs 500 (6 dollars) to Rs 600 (7 dollars) last year.
During `Eid Al-Adha, Muslims offer unhiyah, a ritual that reminds of the great act of sacrifice Prophet Ibrahim and his son Isma`eel were willing to make for the sake of God.
The decline in animal hides prices are expected to impact operations of Islamic charities to help the poor.
Everything will proportionate, Dr Tabassum Jafri, the vice-president of Al-Khidmat Foundation, the largest NGO and Islamic charity in Pakistan, told OnIslam.net.
When you receive lesser amounts, that simply means lesser (charity) services.
The charity earned widespread appreciations due to its relief activity in the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan that had killed over 80,000 people, and in the 2010 floods that inundated one-fifth of the country's lands and killed over 2000 people.
The foundation, which has already been carrying out several welfare projects in different parts of the country was planning to extend its plans, but the expected reduction in its resources, may force it to abandon its extension plans.
Though we would Inshaullah be able to maintain our pace, however, we would not be able to extend our services, especially in a situation where hundreds of thousands of flood affectees are awaiting our help, Dr Jafri said.
Al-Khidmat Foundation meets 20 percent of its annual expenses through hide collections.
DR Jafri has no idea how much loss his foundation will incur vis-Ã -vis its income, but he observes that Islamic charities will have to adopt some alternative measures to cope with the losses to be incurred under skin collection head.
Abdul Sattar Edhi, a renowned social worker, and head of Edhi Foundation, agrees.
We (charities) have to work hard to cope with this expected loss, Edhi, who runs Asia's largest ambulance service, told OnIslam.net.
He says that his organization is already facing shortage of funds and that the decline in hides' prices is going to add to the financial crunch.
Edhi Foundation has already received lesser number of skins this year compared to the previous year, and the unexpected decrease in their prices has jeopardized the ongoing welfare projects.
I appeal to the people of Pakistan, especially rich, to allocate some additional funds for charity so that we can cope with this expected loss, he said.
The increasing inflation is another factor that would add to our financial constraints, Edhi observed.According to World Bank, around 34 percent Pakistanis live below poverty line with no education and health facilities.