Humanitarian assistance, Indonesia

The ‘Building Blocks’ of Help – How Blockchain is Helping Those In Need

When we think of the word ‘Charity’ or the wider subject of humanitarian aid, what do we imagine? The words conjure up images of volunteers delivering supplies and providing help to those desperately in need. It’s on rare occasions that we see innovation in the area of NGO’s and Humanitarian aid in the field. The logistics of doing that alone would make it more challenging than imagining it ever could.

But the 21st century has, if anything, continuously challenged our perspectives on a lot of things, humanitarianism among them. Over the past 15 years, the need for support and international help has increased; with organisations unable to manage the logistics surrounding it.

The Building Blocks of a solution

According to a study by William Easterly in 2010, international aid organisations have a severe problem with administration. With a focus on money distributed instead of services rendered to the population. The issue of stretched administration enters as well, both in that it’s overstretched for the service required. With a significant amount of money used on the overarching bureaucracy instead of for the people.

As the number of charity organisations, along with the amount of money they pledge, increases. So too does the scale of bureaucracy and logistics behind it, causing the overall costs to increase exponentially. According to The Telegraph in 2016, it’s a system that is in dire need of logistical and financial reform.

The Building Blocks Project

The World Food Programme has taken to technology to fight against the logistical struggle that surrounds humanitarian aid. Established in 2016, it seeks to counter the growing problem of data and transportation management by revolutionising it. The result is a system functioning off the back of blockchain technology, cutting costs and improving efficiency.

So how does it do that? Blockchain, as a system, allows for the safe and secure storage of information between parties. From its primary use as a distributed ledger; logging information and conducting transactions between organisations. This method allows for the system to become decentralised, cutting costs and improving efficiency.

Building Blocks has the potential to cut millions from expenditure 

The use of modern retail and blockchain technology in this area is uniquely beneficial for those supplying and obtaining aid. Decentralising a significant area of international assistance cuts the bureaucratic costs by millions. Meanwhile, this money would be put to more efficient use by increasing the efficiency in transporting and supplying populations with aid.

Thanks to the support of the Innovation Accelerator, Building Blocks was able to leap from theory to reality. And in 2017 it moved into full development and currently supports a Syrian refugee population of 10,000 in Azraq camp in Jordan.

With further developments with the likes of Datarella and Parity, refugees with no official documentation will also never have to worry about seeking help. Creating a streamlined, efficient method of knowing who these people are, and providing them with the support they need.