New app lets users 'share meals' with Syrian children

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New app lets users 'share meals' with Syrian children


If you own a smartphone you can now help nourish refugee children who have been forced to flee their homes during Syria’s prolonged confict.

A new app launched by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) on Thursday enables smartphone users to help provide vulnerable children in refugee camps in Jordan with vital nutrition.

With just a simple tap on their phones, users of ShareTheMeal can choose how much they want to contribute. Developers said that a donation of $0.50 can provide one child with enough nutrition for a day.

The concept is to allow people around the world to digitally "share" their meals while having dinner or lunch in a fast and easy way.

"This is the fifth year away from home for many Syrian children and their families, who are in dire need," Sebastian Stricker, founder of ShareTheMeal, told Al Jazeera.

"Our current goal is to provide school snacks to 20,000 Syrian children in refugee camps in Jordan for a full year.

"School meals provide vital nutrition and help keep kids in school."

Engaging people

The free-to-download app, which allows contributors to follow the impact of their donations, is available globally for iOS and Android users.

Developers said that a pilot programme in German-speaking countries earlier this year provided 1.7m school meals to children in Lesotho after more than than 120,000 people downloaded the app and raised $850,000.

"The simple act of sharing a meal is how people all over the world come together," said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin.

"This digital version of sharing a meal is a tangible way that Generation Zero Hunger can act to end hunger."

Generation Zero Hunger is a UN campaign calling on young people to champion the cause of ending hunger.

At least 250,000 people have been killed during the five-year conflict in Syria, while millions of others have been displaced - including four million Syrian refugees who fled to neighbouring countries.

The prolonged crisis has also stretched international aid agencies, which are now under pressure to come up with new innovative ways to attract donations, including mobile technology.

 Related: Google launches 'Crisis Info Hub' to help refugees

The WFP says it must raise $25m each week to meet the basic food needs of people affected by the complex and worsening Syria crisis.

"Besides the immediate needs in Jordan, the app is a way for WFP to engage a new generation of individuals in our mission and our work," said Stricker.

"ShareTheMeal makes donating more social and more effective."

Harnessing technology

Last month, Google announced it had worked with international organisations to launch a web-based paltform to help refugees seeking asylum around the world by providing critical information for their journeys.

The "Crisis Info Hub" initiative aims to make information on issues such as transport and lodging easily accessible on a smartphone

The website offers information in English and Arabic on registration centres and legislation, accommodation, transport, medical care and banking services.

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