United Nations Expanding Blockchain Use to Help Syrian Refugees

United Nations Expanding Blockchain Use to Help Syrian Refugees

Since the year 2017, a project from the United Nations World Food Programme associated with the Ethereum blockchain called “Building Blocks” has been helping provide aid to Syrian refugees. As of January 2018, through a cash-for-food blockchain-based system, Building Blocks has provided aid to over 100,000 refugees who reside in refugee camps. Given the success of that project, The World Food Programme has plans to expand it to 500,000 Syrian refugees by the year 2019.

Also see: Austin Embraces Blockchain Technology to Enhance Services for the Homeless

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The UN is Using Blockchain to Help Save Lives and Funds

Looking at how the technology works, Building Blocks integrates with a biometric authentication technology called IrisGuard which allows refugees to identify themselves by looking into an iris scanner. This technology is connected to the camp supermarkets where aid is provided to refugees. Using this technology, tefugees individually go to this supermarket and get the food they need. When they go to the checkout line, all they need to do is look directly into the IrisGuard iris scanner.

There is no cash exchanged. Instead, the technology simply scans the iris of their eye to verify who they are. Once the system captures the iris scan, it then checks their bank account to see if there’s enough credit available to cover the food. By tracking the entire process on a blockchain, this is a much more cost-effective and safer checkout method than using local financial networks for transmitting money and verifying balances. Because each transactions is individually confirmed by using the refugee’s eye scan against the actual delivery of the aid, there is practically no chance of corruption or tampering with this new blockchain program. Results of the “Building Blocks” system so far has shown transaction fees have decreased by 98%.

These savings are being applied to deliver even greater levels of aid to the refugees rather than being consumed by transaction fees.

Humanitarianism Via Blockchain

Blockchain-based systems such as Building Blocks can be used to track the flow for other things besides food, and there are over one billion people with no personal identification that can let them access their own private bank account or another financial account.

Because there is such a massive and wide range of people, including homeless people, refugees, and children victim of child trafficking, Building Blocks and other similar projects are actively working to apply this technology to help solve these important issues.

What’s your take? What do you think of blockchain’s potential regarding aid efforts? Sound off in the comments below. 


Image: UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, The Daily Best

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