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27 February 2024

MBRGI expands international partnerships to achieve sustainable food security

Published
By WAM

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI), through its 1 Billion Meals initiative, today announced its support for the United Nations UNITLIFE Trust Fund, which aims to address chronic malnutrition across the globe.

As the region's largest food donation drive, 1 Billion Meals aims to provide food aid to the underprivileged in 50 countries, especially marginalised groups, including children, refugees, displaced persons, and victims of disasters and crises.

Through its cooperation, MBRGI will allocate AED5.5 million to UNITLIFE, which governance is comprised of the Government of France, UN Women, the World Food Programme and the Ecobank Foundation.

The grant will support developing innovative agricultural solutions, empowering women and mothers, and preventing chronic malnutrition, especially among children, in Senegal, Niger, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, reaching more than 300,000 beneficiaries.

The partnership is a major addition to the food aid pathway provided by MBRGI through the 1 Billion Meals initiative. It will support the sustainable food safety net, delivering finance innovative and local solutions across food systems to achieve food self-sufficiency and promote smart individual and community farming methods that provide access to a healthy diet throughout the year.

The partnership also protects vulnerable groups, children and women in communities most exposed to malnutrition, food insecurity, supply chain disruption, and climate change's impacts on food production and agriculture.

Dr. Abdulkareem Al Olama, CEO in MBRGI, said, "Humanitarian aid and relief are a pillar of MBRGI's work. This aid was provided by our food support initiatives over the past three years: 10 Million Meals in 2020, 100 Million Meals in 2021, and 1 Billion Meals this year. We are now unlocking new avenues to ensure the sustainability of this food support in underprivileged communities."

Dr. Al Olama added, "MBRGI's cooperation with UNITLIFE provides more than AED5.5 million to support agriculture and food production innovation, thus empowering more than 300,000 people, especially vulnerable groups, including children and women in underprivileged communities across three countries. This step augments the added value of humanitarian and relief action, while ensuring innovation and foreseeing best practices for its future and towards its sustainability."

Philippe Douste-Blazy, Chairman of the Board of UNITLIFE, said, "We thank MBRGI for the strong support it has offered to UNITLIFE, the multilateral UN initiative dedicated to combating chronic malnutrition through developing innovative food-saving, climate-sensitive and women-empowering ecosystems.

"Owing to this partnership, UNITLIFE will be able to fund operations that explore innovative solutions considered widely applicable in Niger, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Senegal, thus shaping a healthier tomorrow for today's children and future generations. Providing good nutrition to children during the first 1,000 days of life will allow them to have a fairer start, unlocking their full potential."

MBRGI has chosen to support UNITLIFE because its projects focus on Africa. It also develops ambitious programmes and projects that achieve the aims of this formula, drive realising the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030, enhancing food security, empowering women and protecting children from malnutrition.

In Senegal, MBRGI contributes AED2.2 million to the integrated food resilience support project implemented by the NGO Action Against Hunger. Launched in October 2022, the two-year project will include 26 Senegalese villages and annually provide 730,000 nutritious meals to 30,600 direct and indirect beneficiaries. MBRGI also supports healthy farm projects and dairy industry development and enhances agricultural financing options for farmers.

The plan to support innovation in food production also includes the production of complementary foods such as fortified flour from local grains and cowpeas, supporting families in conducting community self-diagnosis of food practices and organising nutrition education courses.

The plan also includes consolidating the role of "village savings and loan associations" to enable women to access financing, supporting farmers to earn additional income from surplus production, raising awareness of good hygiene practices and providing water purification products.

In Niger, MBRGI contributes more than AED1.1 million to (the second phase of) a project that aims to improve the sustainability of food systems and production, develop food security and enhance opportunities for inclusive financing. Implemented by the NGO GOAL Global and launched in October 2022, the one-year projects include 20 villages and provide 912,500 nutritious meals annually to more than 142,485 direct and indirect beneficiaries.

The main objectives of the programme include improving the productivity of nutritious crops that are highly adaptable to the climate through partnerships with suppliers of improved seeds suitable for hot and dry climates, providing these seeds to female farmers at a discount of 40%, and supporting the establishment of 1,333 home and community farms.

They also include enhancing women's ability to make agricultural decisions by facilitating access to digital financing products and increasing the number of "village savings and loans associations" across Niger from 20 to 35.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MBRGI contributes more than AED1.8 million to a project to establish a dynamic network that empowers women in agricultural communities. Implemented by UN Women and launched in September 2022, the 17-month project will cover the provinces of Kinshasa and Kwango and provides 1,077,300 nutritious meals annually to more than 128,558 direct and indirect beneficiaries.

The project includes studies on food availability, eating habits and family feeding practices, specifically infant and child feeding. It conducts training courses for villagers on preparing nutritious recipes based on cassava- the daily food for many, teaching them techniques for detoxing cassava, recycling its waste, and improving the skills of women farmers and villagers in marketing agricultural products supported by the programme.