One new initiative aims to assist bankless Ukrainian refugees, while another aims to streamline international Red Cross projects.
Humanitarian organizations have increasingly used blockchain technology to address issues such as a lack of banking or insufficient identity verification in developing or war-torn countries.
In December, two new projects were announced: one that will provide cash aid to Ukrainian refugees via the Stellar network and another that will provide cash and vouchers via the Partisia network.
However, previous blockchain projects have had mixed results. Some projects have been successful in allowing recipients to bypass red tape and receive the assistance they require, but for others, the use of blockchain has proven to be unnecessary.
On December 15, the Stellar Development Foundation announced a collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to offer USD Coin as a form of cash assistance to Ukrainian refugees on the Stellar network.
The USDC tokens will be available for redemption at any MoneyGram location. The program’s creators believe that this will make it easier for refugees to receive aid even if they do not have bank accounts or cannot access those they do have.
Stellar aid assistant product manager Tori Samples told Cointelegraph that by partnering with Moneygram for cash-outs and using Circle’s USDC digital currency, “the entire solution becomes meaningful and accessible for people living in crisis.”
“This product was specifically designed to meet the needs of aid organizations providing assistance in difficult environments. It cannot be experimental because it will not withstand real-world use. Donor dollars are among the most closely scrutinized in the world. The fact that some of the world’s largest aid organizations use Stellar Aid Assist in Ukraine today demonstrates that it has real-world value and the potential to scale.”
Partisia Blockchain Foundation hosted a “hackathon” earlier this month, on December 2, in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross. The event’s goal was to find ways to use the Partisia network to make Red Cross humanitarian aid payments more efficient.
While these blockchain efforts are admirable, the sector has a tumultuous history.
Researchers from the Digital Humanitarian Network examined previous attempts to leverage blockchain for the benefit of aid recipients in a paper titled “Humanitarian Blockchain: Inventory and Recommendations” published in August. They discovered that while blockchain did help some organizations be more efficient in delivering aid, it had to be abandoned in other cases because it did not add value.
Building Blocks, a blockchain initiative launched by the World Food Programme, was cited as an example of a successful project. It sought to address the issue of duplicative aid, or multiple aid services providing the same assistance to the same people.