Sara Al Nuaimi
Sara Al Nuaimi, director of Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, says more than Dh43million of the target Dh100m have been raised in just less than five days after the 100 Million Meals campaign was launched on April 11. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Donations, contributions and pledges of support are pouring in for the UAE’s ‘100 Million Meals’ campaign aimed at providing food support to disadvantaged individuals and families across 20 countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa this Ramadan.

Close to 50 per cent or Dh43million of the target Dh100m have been raised in just less than five days after the campaign was launched on April 11, Sara Al Nuaimi, director of Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI), told Gulf News in an exclusive interview on Thursday.

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According to MBRGI, the ‘100 Million Meals’ campaign that was announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, is the largest food drive of its kind in the Arab world. “It aims to provide food parcels to empower disadvantaged individuals and families across 20 countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa to prepare their own meals during the Holy Month of Ramadan.”

The campaign’s target is to provide basic food items, sufficient to prepare up to 100 million meals. Every Dh1 donated will help provide one meal for beneficiaries in targeted countries including Sudan, Lebanon, Jordan, Pakistan, Angola, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Tanzania, Senegal, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Palestine.

Asiya Begum and Nur Mohammod share a pack of HEBs. This family has lost their home and everything in it during the fire. A deadly fire spread across four camps in the world's largest and densely populated refugee settlement. So far, 45000 people have been confirmed displaced, but this number is likely to climb to 87,855 based on initial assessments. Within the first 24 hours of the response, WFP distributed food assistance to 80,362 people. 71,725 individuals received high energy biscuits rations for 7 days and 8,637 people received hot meals. WFP and Food Security Sector partners will continue to scale hot meals for affected populations for the foreseeable future. WFP initially deployed heavy machinery, including water tanks, to contain the fire. An additional 345 labourers have been deployed by the disaster risk reduction (DRR) team to support with food assistance, and 250 labourers have been deployed from the Site Maintenance and Engineering Project (SMEP) for debris clearance. Two WFP nutrition centre Image Credit: © WFP/Mehedi Rahman

10X larger than last year

Al Nuaimi noted the ‘100 Million Meals’ campaign is an expansion of ‘10 Million Meals’ campaign in the UAE during Ramadan last year. “This year, we have multiplied the campaign ten times than in 2020, when the campaign was focused inside the UAE,” she told Gulf News, adding that the campaign has been made global “to help other countries suffering from poverty and hunger, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

As the campaign tackles the pervading issue of hunger and malnutrition in developing countries, the UAE is also finding ways how to make the food campaign more sustainable.

Al Nuaimi said there is no announcement yet if the campaign will become an annual but the UAE is already “looking at how to extend it (food campaign) beyond Ramadan.”

Bangladesh, Kurigram, 04 July 2020 The heavy monsoon rains flooded the northern and north-eastern districts of Bangladesh. Earlier, during the last week of June 2020. Households in three districts which have suffered severe damage. After showing a slight improvement last week, the flood situation has deteriorated again as major rivers in the country are flowing above the danger level. Thousands of people in low-lying areas are witnessing the second round of floods this season due to rise of water levels of the major rivers in the country. All of the 16 rivers that flow through Kurigram are far over the danger limit and are inundating village after village. In addition to this natural disaster the country is also facing the Covid-19 pandemic adding great hardship for these populations to cope. In the photo: Fatema has shifted her house to a higher ground due to flood. Their family and 6000 others are being assisted by the WFP by providing them with mobile cash transfers.
 Photo: WFP/Mehedi Rahman Image Credit: © WFP/Mehedi Rahman

Locally-sourced food

The MBRGI is teaming up with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the Food Banking Regional Network and charity organisations in beneficiary countries to ensure food parcels are delivered to the doorsteps of impoverished families. The Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian & Charity Establishment (MBRCH) is supporting the campaign, alongside other local and federal entities in the UAE.

Al Nuaimi said around 77 food banks around world have been tapped for the campaign. Food are sourced locally, meaning food distributed in Bangladesh, Jordan or Palestine are sourced within the country.

“This will give people the flexibility to prepare their own food and also to ensure that the food will be sufficient for them for a long time. In some areas or countries, health and sanitation kits are also distributed,” Al Nuaimi explained.

Palestine, Gaza, 15 September 2020 In the Photo: Door-to-door food distributions started in Gaza amidst the spike in COVID-19 cases in the Strip. Photo: WFP/Ali Jadallah WFP assists 35,000 people in Gaza through in-kind food rations & 224,000 people through food vouchers. The food rations consist of wheat flour, pulses, vegetable oil, salt and canned tuna. Image Credit: © WFP/Ali Jadallah

Help starting from Dh1

Al Nuaimi said anyone in the UAE can donate the cost of basic food starting from Dh1. She added: “I highly urge everyone to take part in the initiative whether they are in the private or public sector; corporate or individuals. Ramadan is the time of the year that we feel the suffering of other people and help them, even in the smallest amount we can.”

“Within few hours flight from the UAE, there are 52 million people who are hungry. In the world, every 10 seconds, a child dies because of hunger. We, here in the UAE, are blessed and privileged. It’s time to five a hand to people in need outside the courtly through this campaign,” she added.

How to donate

Donations to the ‘100 Million Meals’ campaign can be made in four ways: website, SMS, bank transfer and call Centre. People inside and outside the UAE can donate online through the website or through a bank transfer to the campaign’s account at Dubai Islamic Bank (AE080240001520977815201). Local donations can be made by sending “Meal” by SMS on specified numbers for du or Etisalat listed on the website. Big monetary donations can be made through reaching out to the campaign’s team on the toll-free number 8004999.