In November 2015, the World Food Programme launched ShareTheMeal, a smartphone app which allows users to donate in real time to their humanitarian relief program.
This week the organisation launched an Arabic version to coincide with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a period marked by fasting and acts of charity.
"Let's try - this whole holy month - to share a meal every day, and every meal that we're having, or that we should be having while fasting, let's share a meal with a Syrian refugee wherever they are in the world," Tunisian Actress, Lawyer, and UN World Food Programme Ambassador Hend Sabry said.
— ShareTheMeal (@ShareTheMealorg) June 2, 2016
The UN organisation is voluntarily funded by individuals and donor countries, reaching more than 80 million people in 82 countries each year with food assistance. In recent years, the conflict in Syria and droughts around the world have put additional strain on the group's resources, which has struggled to meet funding shortfalls.
The ShareTheMeal app has been used by more than half a million people worldwide, providing the equivalent of over 5.6 million daily food rations, according to the UN. With the launch of the app in Arabic, the organisation expects to potentially reach 117 million additional smartphone users.
“More people in the Arab world are using smartphones, with estimates that there will be more than 300 million users by 2020,” said Sebastian Stricker, founder and head of the ShareTheMeal program. “We made sure that the ShareTheMeal app is ready before the Holy month of Ramadan, a time when people are looking for ways to help those in need such as Syrian refugee children.”
The app has been used to raise funds for thousands of Syrian refugee children in Jordan, and schoolchildren in southern Africa. During the Ramadan period, funds raised will be dedicated to meals for 1,400 refugee kids aged three-to-four in Lebanon.
The developers have used the app to 'gamify' giving, adding links to social media and providing real-time statistics of personal and global donations. Users are able to use a single tap to give as little as 70c a day, which the World Food Programme says is enough to feed one child for an entire day.