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Lezima Gomes
Qatar-based sustainability advocacy group EcoMENA estimates that half the waste sitting in Qatar's landfills is leftover food! The combination of the country's high food consumption rate and a lack of recycling and management systems has resulted in a massive 1.4 million metric tonnes of food ending up in landfills per year, EcoMENA statistics quote.
A new start-up called Wa'hab, founded by Wardah Mamukoya, aims to redistribute surplus food to those in need, throughout Qatar."Although we know for a fact that there are no cases of starvation in Qatar, we believe the less privileged can benefit from the perfectly good food being thrown away by the food industry, including high-end, five-star hotels. This inspired us to provide a network that would redirect surplus food to those in need. At Wa'hab, we give food a second chance to do what it does: feed people," Mamukoya said.
She is joined in this noble cause by four others: Alanood Abdulaziz Jassim al Thani, Ramees Muhammed Kakkodan, Kim Wyatt and Shahid Abdusalam. They are all united in their passion to redistribute surplus food to those in need and to help the local community, business and charity sectors.
In Arabic, the word Wa'hab means 'to give in service' and the company is dedicated to that principle."Our mission is to help food companies, charities, consumers and entrepreneurs collaborate to reduce food poverty and protect the environment by reducing food wastage," explained Mamukoya.
Wa'hab is a private company and currently self-funded by its core team members. The company had a soft launch during #QIFF2017, wherein they managed to recover and redirect in excess of 1000 perfectly good, high-quality meals to Eid Charity, who then distributed them to the less privileged section of our society with the help of volunteers.
"We see and hear about food being thrown away at food outlets, which means edible food is being discarded due to a lack of awareness on who to give it to, or because of the fear of food safety regulations. Conversations with drivers and workers here indicated that they would definitely benefit from a free meal. We identified the need for a system/network that would connect the two ends, which would simultaneously solve the problem of food wastage and food hunger, by routing good food to hungry bellies."
With Ramadan approaching, most hotels are gearing up for lavish Suhours and Iftars, and so is Wa'hab"We are currently planning and designing a working, sustainable model for Wa'hab and organising long-term partnerships with charities, sectors of the Food and beverage industry and volunteers," explained Mamukoya.
When asked why Qatar has the highest per-capita food waste in the world, she opined,"Food is easily accessible, plentiful and readily available in Qatar. Other factors like weather, temperature and storage, buying behaviour, demand for perfect-looking produce, are some of the other key reasons contributing to food wastage in Qatar."
"There is also a lack of awareness about the environmental, social and economic impact of food wastage and we hope to address this issue," she added.
Food wastage can be reduced but Mamukoya pointed out that it was a complex issue with many layers."Awareness is the key. Wa'hab's mission is to create more awareness about the impact of food wastage by engaging with the community, charities and the food industry via social media and awareness campaigns to encourage discussion about the impact of food wastage on our society, as well as to provide user-friendly information to the public on how to cut food wastage. We also hope to inspire everyone in the community to find ways in which to reduce the impact of food wastage in Qatar," she said.
To that effect, Wa'hab has started organising talks at schools, as well as posts online tips and information on the internet to reduce food wastage at home."We hope to collaborate on public awareness campaigns at some point. So far, the response has been extremely positive. Food outlets and the general public have been waiting for an enterprise such as Wa'hab for a long time."
"Wa'hab hopes to provide strategic investment to help bridge the logistics gap and economic hurdles that result in food wastage," Mamukoya said.

For volunteering please contact [email protected]
For general enquiries please contact [email protected]
You can also follow Wa'hab on Twitter and Instagram for daily updates - @wahab_qa as well as Facebook @wa'hab
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