Dubai: UAE’s ‘100 Million Meals’ Ramadan campaign, which aims to provide food parcels to disadvantaged communities across 20 countries in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, has achieved 78 per cent of its target within the first week of its launch.
The campaign raised over Dh78 million, equivalent to providing more than 78 million meals, as massive donations continue to pour in from individuals, companies and entities inside and outside the UAE.
Food distribution has already begun in several countries including Jordan, Egypt and Pakistan. Organised by the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI), the campaign aims to secure food parcels that enable disadvantaged families and individuals to prepare their own meals during Ramadan.
Every Dh1 donated helps provide one meal for beneficiaries in targeted countries including Sudan, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Pakistan, Egypt, Palestine, Bangladesh, Tanzania and Angola.
Mohammad Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and secretary-general of MBRGI, said: “Raising more than half of the targeted donations in less than a week since the launch of the campaign reflects the keenness of the UAE community — with all its segments and companies — to support the country’s humanitarian efforts to provide relief to people in need across the world.”
He added: “As part of our role at MBRGI, we responded to the overwhelming donations by immediately starting the food distribution process in several countries, in collaboration with the United Nations World Food Programme and the Food Banking Regional Network.”
The World Food Programme will help provide 20 per cent of the campaign’s food parcels to refugee camps in Palestine, Jordan, and Bangladesh, while the Food Banking Regional Network is securing food parcels to target groups in 13 of the targeted 20 countries.
In collaboration with international and local partners, MBRGI is working to ensure food parcels reach to the people most in need of support. Beneficiaries are identified based on accurate, updated and integrated databases.
Donations began pouring in within the first hours of the launch announcement by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Within less than a week from its launch, the campaign has attracted overwhelming response across digital platforms, social media, and instant messaging applications.
For example, Dar Al Ber Society, one of the first charities established in the UAE, donated Dh20 million to the ‘100 Million Meals’ campaign, it was announced on Saturday.
Mohammed Souhil Al Muhairi, Executive Director, Dar Al Ber Society, said: “The 100 Million Meals campaign embodies the UAE’s commitment to its core values of giving, especially during Ramadan, the month of goodness, righteousness, and charity. The UAE plays a significant humanitarian role globally, and the vision and directives of our leadership has paved the way for an effective and sustainable implementation of philanthropy.”
The campaign is part of UAE’s contribution to global efforts to combat hunger and malnutrition, exacerbated by the outbreak of COVID-19. Today, more than 52 million people in the MENA region are undernourished, and most of them women and children.
The ‘100 Million Meals’ campaign is an expansion of 2020s locally held ‘10 Million Meals’ campaign that empowered COVID-19-hit communities across the UAE. The campaign will provide food aid to the most vulnerable populations across 20 countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Dr Ahmad Bin Abdul Aziz Al Haddad, Grand Mufti and Director of the Ifta Department of the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department in Dubai (IACAD), issued a fatwa [religious ruling] permitting the payment of cash forms of zakat to purchase food parcels for the ‘100 Million Meals’ campaign.
Also on Saturday, it was announced that the UN World Food Programme (WFP) will deliver critical food support to beneficiaries in Palestine and in refugee camps in Jordan and Bangladesh, over the next six weeks, as part of its role in the campaign.
Under a strategic partnership with MBRGI, together WFP estimates to feed around 200,000 beneficiaries in the three priority countries of Jordan, Bangladesh and Palestine through money transfers and cash vouchers raised from the campaign.
Within the current context and challenges faced, the use of cash and vouchers, equipped with biometric identification, has proven to maximise food security outcomes among the target population. These channels help beneficiaries secure access to a diverse and nutritious diet, affording them the choice to select priority needs, and presenting benefits to both buyer and seller by injecting capital into local markets and economies.
Abdel Mageed Yahia, director of WFP office in the UAE and representative to the GCC, said: “This initiative could not come at a more pressing time. Hunger is soaring around the world — driven by conflict, climate shocks and the impact of COVID-19. Today, more than 270 million people face life-threatening levels of hunger. We are watching a catastrophe unfold before our eyes and we must all step up to fight back. Once again, the extraordinary leadership and generosity of [Sheikh Mohammed] is setting an example to the world.”
MBRGI will also coordinate with the Food Banking Regional Network and local humanitarian organisations in beneficiary countries to deliver food parcels to the doorsteps of vulnerable individuals and families.