The inaugural edition of the Dakar Rally in 1978 already blended extreme competition and solidarity. The event has always had an undeniable humanitarian dimension, from the arid lands of the Sahel all the way to South America.
In Africa, the Dakar has brought about humanitarian projects such as "Paris–Dakar, pari du cœur", with the construction of long-lasting infrastructures to gain arable land, as well as building the Thierry Sabine Health Post and Maternity Hospital in Niaga to promote access to healthcare.
In South America, the Dakar backed the REDD Madre de Dios project, working side by side with local communities and promoting the social well-being, health and education of the children and youths in the schools of Iñapari. The Dakar also contributed to over 400 social projects through the South American organisation TECHO.
Now, the Dakar continues to support local charities in Saudi Arabia: Help Center and the Saudi Food Bank.
The Dakar has stepped up to the plate for young people with physical and mental disabilities.
In 2021 it struck a partnership with Help Center, a non-profit organisation based in Saudi Arabia that cares for children and young people with physical and mental disabilities. The association uses games, educational activities and sport to give assist its beneficiaries in the long term, teach them to carry out everyday tasks, support them in their studies and, finally, facilitate their entry into the labour market.
As well as providing financial support, the Dakar hosts children from the association in the bivouacs to plunge them into the rally experience and give them a backstage tour of the race.
In 2021, the health crisis made it impossible for the children to come to the Village, so the Dakar instead made a financial donation towards the purchase of computing equipment to enable young people in school and their teachers to continue their lessons by video call.
Check out here all the programmes run by Help Center.
For its second year in Saudi Arabia, the Dakar has joined forces with the non-profit organisation Saudi Food Bank to curb food waste. The organisation of the Dakar and the Saudi Food Bank work together to raise awareness of food waste among local communities and encourage the redistribution of food to the underprivileged.
In 2021, with the help of a dedicated team, the non-profit collected uneaten food from 5 bivouacs: Riyadh, Ha'il, NEOM, Yanbu and Jeddah. All in all, over 4,600 meals were donated to 2,340 local beneficiaries.
The Dakar hands out surplus organisation clothes in the host towns and cities of the event. In 2021, Dakar apparel (T-shirts, sweatshirts and parkas) was given to Help Center teenagers or the volunteers of the E'taam non-profit acting on behalf of the Saudi Food Bank.