ShareTheMeal App Uses Technology to Fight Global Hunger
There are 795 million undernourished people in the world today. That’s one in nine people who are not getting enough food to lead a healthy life.
Those numbers make hunger and malnutrition the number one risk to health worldwide. That makes malnutrition a greater threat than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
Enter the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger today. Each year, the WFP reaches 80 million people with food assistance in around 80 countries.
As an initiative that relies completely on voluntary donations, two managers at WFP, Sebastian Stricker and Bernhard Kowatsh, have created a way to make donating even easier by using technology to fight global hunger.
In fact, thanks to them, donating is right at your fingertips.
That’s because they’ve created an app. It’s called ShareTheMeal.
Currently being hailed as the first of its kind, this free app allows iOS and Android users to fund food rations for as little as $0.50. While a small sum to most in the Western world, in other, poorer parts of the planet, the value can be life-saving. The sum is enough to provide the vital nutrition an individual needs a day.
“The simple act of sharing a meal is how people all over the world come together,” said Ertharin Cousin, the WFP’s executive director, “This digital version of sharing a meal is a tangible way that generation zero hunger can act to end hunger.”
Pilot tests for the app were performed in June 2015 across Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Using the technology to fight global hunger, more than 120,000 users provided more than 1.7 million meals for schoolchildren in the southern African country of Lesotho.
The money coming from Thursday’s global launch of ShareTheMeal will initially be used to support 200,000 Syrian refugee children living in the Zaatari camp in Jordan who participate in the WFP’s school meals program.
“By Christmas, we hope to have gathered enough shared meals, to feed these children for one year,” ShareTheMeal’s head of growth Massimiliano Costa says.
Improvements to hunger and living conditions in refugee camps as well as among Syrian communities is widely viewed as crucial to encouraging Syrians not to embark on risky travel to Europe.
If the app does well, the project will expand to other countries and regions. The WFP is already looking at the numbers. With two billion smartphone users worldwide, that statistic outnumbers the hungry children in the world 20 to 1.
The United Nations’ has set the ambitious goal of ending world hunger by 2023. Perhaps ShareTheMeal is the answer.
– Kara Buckley
Sources: ShareTheMeal, Forbes, Reuters, The Guardian Photo: Pixabay