Using technology to fight food poverty and hunger in Nigeria – The Sun Nigeria
Through Omotunde Alawode
Leaving a good job in the corporate world in UK he started his own tech company and created the Provide A Meal app. In this interview with Daily Sun, Damson Ibitoye, co-founder and CEO of Provide A Meal UK and co-founder of Provide A Meal Nigeria. Graduated from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, before heading to the UK for a Masters in Geographic Information Systems, who found his passion for creating technological solutions that solve everyday problems, explains how hunger led him to find a solution for others and his wish to end hunger in Nigeria, and how those who need it most can benefit from his approach.
What exactly do you mean when you say food poverty is rampant here?
Food poverty is the inability to acquire or consume the adequate amount of food the body needs to perform daily activities. Food protects us from illness, provides us with the energy we need to work, and helps us recover quickly from illnesses. The uncertainty surrounding the daily ability to consume the right amount of food or to consume the right amount of nutrients that the body needs in a socially acceptable way can be termed food poverty. Food poverty invades people, but as soon as an individual or family starts skipping meals without the intention of doing so, they can be classified as people at risk of food poverty, which describes many families in Nigeria. today. If they regularly skip meals, then they are victims of food poverty. The causes of food poverty are multiple and vary among individuals, families and communities. For the majority, individuals and families, the lack of income to support daily life is the common cause of food poverty. For some communities it is the lack of access to food supply or the high food prices as we are seeing these days. As soon as someone is unable to secure the next meal for themselves or their family, they are at risk of food poverty.
What made you decide that this was something you needed to tackle?
Food poverty is rampant around the world and requires multiple interventions to tackle it. About four years ago, I decided to be a social entrepreneur by creating a solution to solve a social problem and a conversation with my partners, Kunle Gbagba, Yemi Adeshina and Yetunde Ajibade, led to PAM Nigeria. With my background in technology and personal experience of how easily anyone can drop below the poverty line, I was motivated to create a technology-based solution that would tackle food poverty. Then I was inspired to create this lasting and inclusive solution after speaking to God in prayers. The solution provides the opportunity for individuals, governments and cooperative organizations to work independently but jointly on the platform to achieve the Zero Hunger goal. Making zero hunger one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is a great driver for encouraging solutions like this. There are also other programs put in place by governments and international aid agencies to fight food poverty; these initiatives are all created to reduce food poverty in our communities. However, statistics in Africa, especially over the past seven years, do not give hope that food poverty will go away and this calls for creating innovative ways to solve the problem of hunger.
How then do you plan to fight against food poverty in Nigeria?
At PAM, our research shows that there are many ways to fight hunger, and we’ve found that many are doing a lot to address them. However, most of the existing interventions are generally of short duration. Our approach is a little more holistic and brings together all these actors who work to respond to the problem of food poverty. This solution is scalable and gives the opportunity to charities to work independently but together on the same platform towards the same goal. It also gives all branches of government a way to report and track the impact of their efforts to end hunger. Businesses can do their part with confidence, knowing that they are helping to create a stable economic environment to help them continue to operate. Another advantage of being a sponsor on the platform is the fact that together we create employment opportunities within local communities simply by providing them on the platform. Our approach ultimately ensures that no man, woman or child goes to bed hungry.
So how does it work and is it easy for those who need it to access it?
It is a web and mobile platform accessible to everyone on provideameal.ng. To register as a meal sponsor click on the register button and within 10 seconds you are able to provide meals to anyone. After registering, you can fund your account with any amount, this will allow you to create meal codes (vouchers) in multiples of 1000 N. These unique digits which represent the amount can be given to vulnerable people who have it. will use to claim meals at the restaurant or food partner closest to them. Charities on our platform can also distribute meal codes to people who need them most on your behalf. We’re signing up new food partners every day to ensure anyone with the code can get to the nearest restaurant for a meal. People don’t need a phone to claim meals. They only need to present the meal code digits to be verified by food partners to obtain their meals. For those who might be willing to donate but are not digitally inclined to complete the process on their own, they can still donate meals by donating directly to our foundation account and using their e-mail address. -mail as a reference.
We will put them in place on the platform as sponsors to feed those who need it. One of the unique attributes of this platform is the ability to instantly give feedback and appreciate all donors when they nurture someone with their generous donation.
So far, what are the main lessons you have learned from your experience?
The big lesson for me is to never give up hope. When you are convinced that what you are doing is right, it is worth continuing to do so. You will always encounter obstacles on your way to achieving your goals, but if you are persistent enough, you will overcome all obstacles.
If you could advise the current government on ending food poverty in Nigeria, what would you tell them?
As I said before, food poverty is not unique to Nigeria; it is a problem facing nations around the world. The difference is that governments in other countries around the world understand the long-term effect of food poverty, which is why they work with foundations and local authorities to put in place programs and policies to reduce food poverty. poverty, which in turn helps reduce food poverty. Nigeria can learn from these programs and adapt the sections to suit the local situation in different communities. Such programs will be supported by local governments but administered by the federal government to help reduce food poverty nationwide.
What roles can businesses play to help solve this problem?
I firmly believe that business has a big role to play. Businesses need to be aware of the impact of unrest or civil actions associated with hunger. With this in mind, it should be a priority to get involved in creating a socially stable environment by investing in solutions that prevent or reduce the effects of hunger. This will ultimately help businesses to prosper better.
Why do you think partnering with other NGOs is the way to go?
As I said earlier, we know that hunger is a huge and widespread problem across the country and that a problem of this magnitude requires a scalable approach at the national level. Our approach is to work with established charities because they have a better reach on the ground. Therefore, coming together to tackle the problem of hunger would reduce it faster and more honestly. Our platform serves as an aggregator for all other NGOs, which means we can work with more NGOs and get a large effect instead of doing it individually. We can and must all work together to end hunger in Nigeria.
How do you determine which area or neighborhood to focus on at the same time?
The app would work nationwide, but we are starting our operations from Lagos and gradually expanding to other parts of the country. In Lagos, the local charities we work with give us insight into what’s going on locally and we prioritize based on our emergency criteria when deciding where to focus our operations. Over time, we want our technology to recommend the next step in the procedure.
What new initiatives should we expect from you in the near future?
We are currently disrupting the charitable space by replacing manual methods of processing donations with this approach. This is the start of a series of app updates that will see our app do a lot more for partners and donors. We have a technology roadmap that we are passionate about and as we work to update it, our partners and donors should look forward to innovative ways to address current issues in the charitable sector.