Start Network, a global network of 42 international NGOs including Oxfam and Save the Children, has partnered with social enterprise start-up Disberse to test blockchain technology in the distribution of foreign aid.
The project aims to speed up the distribution of aid funding and trace how it is spent, ultimately enabling every pound to be traced from the original donor to each individual assisted. Start Network and Disberse hope that it will enable more money within the international aid system to reach the people it is intended to help, with the flow of funding monitored at every stage, and less lost through the process of currency exchange.
The Disberse platform has been designed to limit aid finance losses and has already been piloted in a development project, which enabled UK-based charity Positive Women to reduce its transfer fees and trace the flow of funds down the chain to a project in Swaziland. The project saw funds sent from the UK to four Swazi schools via a local NGO and resulted in zero losses at the points of delivery. The saving enabled Positive Women to fund an additional three students’ fees for a year.
Commenting on the project, Sarah Llewellyn, Director of Positive Women, said:
“We normally use our bank to transfer funds, but transfers have become increasingly expensive and slow. Using Disberse, we saved 2.5 per cent [on forex fees], which covered the costs of a year’s education for an additional three girls. We could also see our funds being distributed to partners and schools, enabling us to spend less time monitoring, and more time demonstrating impact to our donors.”
More at: Start Network tests blockchain technology for foreign aid distribution – UK Fundraising
Inadequate infrastructure is a major problem faced by Africa and other developing parts of the world.
Besides the technical implications that have hindered the infrastructural development of the aforementioned parts of the world, human interference is also key in slowing down their rates of development.
Afrikanus Kofi Akosah Adusei, acting Africa community manager of XinFin, emphasizes the poor state of infrastructural development in Africa:
“Globally there are more than three mln people without electricity and almost a million without access to clean water. Our mission is to create incentives for financiers and encourage them to finance low profile projects.”
The statement was made at a meeting held on Saturday, July 22, 2017 in Zambia, where about 40 African business men and women came together to learn how the company is using the Blockchain to provide low-cost infrastructure financing around the world.
More at: Blockchain Use Case: Addressing Corruption, Social Problems In Africa – The Cointelegraph
Start Network is partnering with Disberse in a social enterprise start up. Their aims are to:
- test blockchain in the delivery of humanitarian finance
- harness the potentially revolutionary potential of the technology that enabled the Bitcoin..
Ben Joakim, CEO and co-founder of Disberse said: “Disberse was born from an ambition to preserve and improve the impact of aid finance, for the communities and individuals it serves. We believe in the purpose of aid, but recognise it is constrained by inefficiencies. Using blockchain technology, we digitise and distribute donor funds through the chain to recipient beneficiaries. These transactions are transparent, and can be viewed online, ensuring funds are distributed and delivered as intended.”
The project and humanitarian aid
Ensuring the effectiveness of donor funds remains a challenge for governments and international charities. Funds can take weeks to arrive. 10% losses can occur if banking fees, poor exchange rates and currency fluctuations are adverse.
These inefficiencies come with a lack of transparency within the sector which:
- raises the risk of misuse of funds
- makes it more difficult for communities affected by crisis to hold the aid system to account.
The project seeks to speed up the distribution of aid funding and trace its spending. The objective is to trace every pound, from original donor to each individual assisted. The effect should be to enable more money within the international aid system to reach the people it is intended to help. By monitoring the flow of funding monitored, there should be less lost through the process of currency exchange.
More at: Humanitarian aid experiments with blockchain – Enterprise Times
Blockchain is being trialled to ensure that non-profit organisations are getting the best deal
A network of global charities has begun using blockchain to provide transparency to donations, ensuring that they are used appropriately.
Organisations including Oxfam, Save the Children and Christian Aid are three of the 42 members of the Start Network, which trialled the use of blockchain in humanitarian projects last year. The group has representatives on five continents, and will work on the project with start-up fund management platform Disberse.
Disberse uses blockchain, which records all transactions in a distributed digital ledger, to ensure that less money is lost on inefficient exchange rates, banking fees and currency fluctuations. It will also help charities to fight fraud (in 2012, then-UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that 30 per cent of all UN development assistance was lost to corruption), by tracking all transactions.
More at: Charities use blockchain for cost savings – V3
IrisGuard is revolutionizing the refugee experience by incorporating a biometrics payment system into UN camps.
The ongoing conflict in Syria has thrown millions of people into turmoil and displacement. Since the onset of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, many of those displaced have pursued sanctuary in other countries. According to the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR), an estimated 13.5 million people require humanitarian aid. Of this number, the UNHCR estimates there are over five million registered Syrian refugees.
After those seeking asylum are registered through UNHCR, further assistance can be made available to them by other humanitarian organizations, like the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). These groups provide international assistance instruments, such as refugee resettlementprograms, international remittance, healthcare services, microfinance, and more. These programs promote a better livelihood and advancement for those displaced. Unsurprisingly, many of them are being spearheaded by emerging technologies, including blockchain.
IrisGuard, a Jordan-based company that provides IT banking, humanitarian relief, and biometric camera systems, has been driving innovation with a new payment system that utilizes a private Ethereum blockchain to enable streamlined payment services. As per IrisGuard:
“The UNHCR has achieved financial inclusion for unbanked refugees and enabled them to efficiently receive international donor cash assistance directly on unattended bank ATM’s and food at checkout counters in supermarkets and nonfood items in camps; all while refugees are either unable or not allowed to open a bank account by law.”
More at: UN Integrates IrisGuard’s Ethereum Payment Platform for Refugees – ETHNews.com
Blockchain venture platform ConsenSys has announced a new initiative that has been formed with the objective of leveraging the power of Ethereum blockchain for those in need.
Called the Blockchain for Social Impact Coalition (BSIC), the initiative aims to incubate, develop, and implement blockchain solutions that are investable, scalable, and replicable, while solving social and environmental problems.
The inaugural meeting saw participation of over 30 representatives from 22 member organizations including EduDao, Disberse, High Tech Humanitarians, Logos Global Advisors, MIT Solve, New America: Future Property Rights, Nordic Impact, slavefreetrade, Sustainability International, the World Wildlife Fund, ALICE, and Tata Consultancy Services. They discussed existing pain points, foreseeable challenges in collaboration across sectors, and their vision of blockchain use cases in the humanitarian space.
The initiative will demonstrate blockchain potential to increase transparency, accountability, and efficiency in humanitarian organizations, and improve the lives of the individuals they aid. BSIC has identified four target areas as initial launch points:
- Identity & Vulnerable Peoples
- Energy & Environment
- Supply Chain
- Financial Inclusion
More at: ConsenSys announces Blockchain for Social Impact Coalition initiative – EconoTimes
The world’s largest multilateral development bank is launching a blockchain lab as part of a bid to pilot projects that can improve governance and social outcomes in the developing world.
The World Bank, based in Washington, DC, officially launched the venue Tuesday morning to serve as a forum for learning, experimentation and collaboration on distributed ledger technology. The blockchain lab will now seek to bring together internal and external participants to work on blockchain use cases of significance to the bank’s more than 80 client countries.
Core focus areas will include land registry, digital identity, aid distribution and financial infrastructure.
More at: ‘End Poverty, Restore Trust’: World Bank Dives into Blockchain with Lab Launch – CoinDesk