UAE: 1 Billion Meals drive to continue beyond Ramadan till target is hit

Donations will be accepted even after the holy month to reach the goal



'One Billion Meals' food campaign. Photo: Supplied
'One Billion Meals' food campaign. Photo: Supplied
by

Sherouk Zakaria

Published: Wed 6 Apr 2022, 3:14 PM

Last updated: Wed 6 Apr 2022, 10:27 PM

The UAE’s massive food distribution campaign will continue after Ramadan until the one-billion mark is hit, organisers have said.

Donors at home and abroad will be able to contribute to the UAE’s ‘One Billion Meals’ campaign, an expansion of the previous ’10 Million Meals’ and ‘100 Million Meals’ Ramadan campaigns, even after the holy month is over.

Speaking to Khaleej Times in an exclusive interview, Sara Al Nuaimi, director at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI), said fundraising for ‘100 Million Meals’ campaign was closed at the end of Ramadan last year, while food distribution continued till February 2022 until the donated meals were delivered.

“This year, the ‘One Billion Meals’ campaign will not stop anytime soon. We will continue to receive donations after Ramadan until we reach the goal of providing one billion meals to vulnerable communities across the world,” said Al Nuaimi.

Officially launched on Saturday, the ‘One Billion Meals’ campaign, dubbed as the region’s largest food distribution campaign, enables individuals, companies, government entities, and charity organisations to donate as little as Dh1 to provide a meal for someone in need in more than 50 countries.

The campaign builds on the 220 million meals secured in the form of food parcels and smart vouchers during last year’s ‘100 Million Meals’ drive. It targets low-income families in underserved communities, refugees, displaced persons, and victims of disasters and crises to tackle the unprecedented food security challenges.

Expansion to new countries

Al Nuaimi said vulnerable communities in Syria, Afghanistan, Morocco and Albania will be among the beneficiaries of the ‘One Billion Meals’ campaign.

MBRGI is also coordinating with partners including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN World Food Programme to reach more African countries this year.

While last year’s food drive reached five million beneficiaries across four continents, Al Nuaimi said the target is even bigger this year.

“We are aiming to expand our reach to as many vulnerable groups as possible. Once we finalise the distribution process with our partnering organizations, the number of countries we will reach may exceed 50,” said Al Nuaimi.

As the campaign’s implementation arm, partnering organisations will carry out the food distribution in areas where help is needed most. “The priority goes to areas with the highest need, and we depend on our partners to support us in reaching vulnerable segments based on the need,” noted Al Nuaimi.

Food aid will be secured in the form of parcels carrying essential food supplies to enable families to prepare their own meals. Smart vouchers will mainly be distributed in refugee camps to enable beneficiaries to purchase their own food from local markets.

Distribution will continue in refugee camps in Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Bangladesh.

“We have reached Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and India, and Cameroon refugees in Nigeria. Food distribution operations will continue in these areas, with hopes to expand to more refugee camps through our partnership with UNHCR,” said Al Nuaimi.

She added that low-income families and individuals in the UAE will also receive food aid in collaboration with the UAE Food Bank and the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Establishment (MBRCH), which will also take its food distribution operations to a number of countries abroad.

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Long-term support

A key focus of the ‘One Billion Meals’ campaign is establishing sustainable projects in agriculture and food security to empower communities to secure their own meals in the long term.

Al Nuaimi said talks are underway to strengthen partnerships to develop long-term solutions that combat malnutrition and hunger and reduce reliance on humanitarian aid.

“The ‘One Billion Meals’ campaign was launched with sustainability in mind. It aims to provide ‘enabled meals’ not just ‘distributed meals’.”

Al Nuaimi added: “It isn’t enough to provide humanitarian assistance that fulfills immediate needs; it is also important to sustain the aid.”

Since the launch of the campaign, donations have started pouring in from businessmen and charity organisations. The MBRCH donated Dh20 million, while Al Ansari Exchange contributed Dh1 million, and Lulu Group donated Dh2 million.

Individuals and companies can donate to the campaign through four channels: online at www.1billionmeals.ae, SMS, bank transfer and call centre.

How to donate:

— Online on www.1billionmeals.ae

— A bank transfer to Emirates NBD bank account with IBAN no AE300260001015333439802.

— SMS by sending the word “Meal” to 1110 for Etisalat or 1020 for Du) to donate Dh1 every day (Dh30/month)

— Toll free number 8004999 for big donations


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