Set up in 1963 not long after the great famine in China under Mao Zedong that resulted in at least 15 million deaths, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is today the world’s biggest humanitarian agency working to combat hunger. Its actions currently benefit some 80 million people in 75 countries.
Well aware of the power of digital tools and the rise of SocialTech applications, a couple of years ago WFP launched ShareTheMeal, a mobile app that enables users to donate a few cents by debit card or bank transfer. Those charitable donations then go to provide meals for people in countries most vulnerable to famine. Just 40 eurocents can suffice to put together a full meal for a hungry person, which means that any of us has the means to help some of the 795 million needy people all over the world.
In its launch year, 2015, the app’s developer won the Lead Award for ‘Startup of the Year’ in Germany and this year it won the 2017 Google Play Award for Best Social Impact app during Google’s I/O conference in May. To date, ShareTheMeal has enabled the distribution of some 14 million meals, notably in Lebanon and Syria, where food deprivation has been used as a weapon of war during the armed conflicts in those countries. As the Swiss-born academic and global justice activist Jean Ziegler, who is currently Vice-Chair of the Advisory Committee to the United Nations Human Rights Council, famously wrote: “(These days) whoever dies of hunger is a murder victim”.
By Théo Roux