One in a billion! The UAE’s admirable mission to rid the world of hunger

Key focus of the campaign is to provide long-term solutions that combat malnutrition and hunger and reduce others’ reliance on humanitarian aid


Rasha Abu Baker

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Published: Tue 12 Apr 2022, 11:44 PM

How fitting it is that the UAE’s latest humanitarian gesture is taking place during the Holy Month of Ramadan, a month of fasting, sacrifice, prayer, reflection and community. The One Billion Meals initiative is an admirable undertaking that once again epitomises the incredible generosity of the country and its people.

An extension of the 100 Million Meals campaign, which was launched during Ramadan in 2021, it has become the biggest food distribution campaign in the region, having organised 76 million meals within just six days through the efforts of 45,491 donors and 98 participating entities who have raised the amazing sum of Dh76 million for food parcels each containing basic food staples such as rice, flour, oil and sugar, to enable beneficiaries prepare their own nutritious meals.

According to a United Nations report, ‘The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World’, it is a devastating fact that more than 820 million people go to bed hungry every night around the world, and that number grows every year, bringing us dangerously close to a billion - causing a multitude of horrendous consequences including severe malnutrition, stunted growth and, sadly, death.

The report also noted that Africa and Asia bear the world’s greatest share of all forms of malnutrition, accounting for more than nine out of ten of all stunted-growth children and over nine out of ten of all undernourished children worldwide. In southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, one child in three is stunted.

Respected for its reputation as a leader in global humanitarian issues, the UAE has constantly been named the world’s largest donor of development assistance in proportion to its gross national income, and as such the One Billion Meals Initiative can be seen as an extension of that altruism, aiming as it does to help vulnerable people, including displaced people and refugees, in 50 countries, including India, Syria, Afghanistan, Morocco, Albania, Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Bangladesh, supporting efforts to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 2 to end global hunger by 2030.

This ambitious humanitarian action is especially poignant, and valuable, at a time when the world is experiencing an increase in conflicts as people struggle to make ends meet. It is a stark reminder of the contrasting behaviour that humans are capable of.

It’s important to remember Maslow’s 5 Levels of Human Need. In 1943, psychologist Abraham Maslow developed a hierarchy of needs for humanity to progress. It states that primarily, people’s physiological needs for food, water, clothing, shelter, and sleep are the bare necessities for anyone’s survival. Without having those basics, people have little chance for survival or thriving and they must be satisfied in order for them to address more complex needs like mental and physical health, relationships, long-term housing, and employment. This leads to the need for safety and security which supports the ability to have feelings of love and belonging, giving us esteem and finally self-actualisation — finding our meaning in life. It’s really quite disturbing to think that nearly 80 years later, millions of people around the world are still trying to achieve even the lowest of these pillars.

A key focus of the One Billion Meals campaign is to provide long-term solutions that combat malnutrition and hunger and reduce others’ reliance on humanitarian aid. Sustainable projects in agriculture and food security will serve to empower communities and turn the initiative into ‘enabled meals’ and not just ‘distributed meals’.

In order to achieve its objectives, the One Billion Meals drive is expected to continue after Ramadan. It was only in February this year that last year’s 100 million meals drive was fully completed, so one can only imagine how long it will take to deliver one billion meals to vulnerable communities across the world, but it is an effort that is worth making, because whatever your nationality, whatever your beliefs, we can all see that this is a vital factor in the fight against global hunger. This really isn’t ‘someone else’s problem’ – it’s ours, and it won’t be solved unless we all help.

To donate, go online to or you can make a direct bank transfer to Emirates NBD bank account with IBAN no AE300260001015333439802.

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