Building Blocks – How the World Food Programme is harnessing Blockchain technology to deliver humanitarian assistance

What started with a Proof-of-Concept in Pakistan in early January this year, has been transformed in a fully functional Blockchain pilot being rolled out in Jordan in May, 2017. The Building Blocks project not only demonstrates the power and the impact of blockchain technology and its potential to enhance the lives of millions  but it is proof of the technology’s potential for efficiency gains for a humanitarian agency, such as WFP.

Based on the early, however robust prototype field tested in Pakistan, the Building Blocks pilot in Jordan now serves thousands of households in a Jordanian refugee camp Tazweed village. The inhabitants receive food vouchers that can be used in the village’s supermarket. The seamless integration of the existing iris scan identification technology into Building Blocks system allows the  existing processes to stay in place without any need for changes for the beneficiaries,  the supermarket nor WFP personnel. The only visible differences are a higher transparency of aid accounts for beneficiaries and easier bookkeeping for supermarket managers. The biggest, however invisible, advantage is a minimized risk of fraud or data mismanagement.

The economic benefits of harnessing Blockchain technology can amount to several million US-Dollars for the Jordanien refugee camp population, alone. The goal of the Building Blocks pilot is to demonstrate a fully-functional Blockchain solution that can serve as a role model and architecture for similar humanitarian projects worldwide and a base to develop other use cases.

The Datarella team wants to thank the WFP team, the IrisGuard team and our partners over at Parity Technologies for the great cooperation: from the beginning, we felt being one big team with everybody helping the others out when they needed it. Other than with this collaborative effort a project like Building Blocks would not have succeeded: Blockchain technology still is in its infancy and basic conditions in the field have proven to be challenging. Again: thank you very much for the opportunity to demonstrate the power and the real impact of Blockchain.

If you are interested in the Building Blocks project you might consider visiting our Ethereum Meetup on May, 16 .Here we will present more details and especially share our experiences gained in Tazweed village, Jordan

Find some more information on Coindesk or you contact us directly.

Foto by Houman Haddad, WFP:  Opening scene, 1 May, 9:00 am, in the Tazweed Village supermarket, Jordan

The biggest thing in tech 2015-2025?

From time to time we contemplate about which developments, movements or innovations are those that really matter, and that make this frequently mentioned difference. The results of these intellectual games must be subjective and are generated from a uniquely individual perspective. Things get fascinating, though, if you’re convinced that a specific development not only qualifies as your personal No 1 but should be on many people’s A-list. 

Speaking of technology, my personal No 1 which back in 2009 was ‚Apps’, since 2015 is „Blockchain“. Beside developments such as VR and AR that certainly will honour their promises, the blockchain will fundamentally change the way we use the internet. You can regard it as a layer on top of the internet which allows a completely different approach to transactions – i.e. the end-user perspective – and supply chains – i.e. B2B perspective.

Without summing up and repeating all aspects of a blockchain, let’s focus on just one aspect (which, by the way, is the only reason for using  a blockchain, anyway) – the automated consensus made possible by smart contracts. A smart contract is an algorithm defining and executing a set of rules, i.e. without an additional notary service deciding upon whether all contracting parties comply with all rules. Now, without knowing the technical details behind smart contracts, just ask yourself: how many manually executed processes immediately pop up in your mind that could be substituted by an automated process that minimizes time and costs.

VR and AR have been around for years now. Many companies have been founded, many have been shut down. From my perspective, both, AI and AR, need new use cases and new hardware  to demonstrate their raisons d’être. That’s why it takes so long until they can really demonstrate their added value.

Don’t get me wrong – I can see the sexiness of many VR and AR prototypes. But, still, our world is heading towards automated processes; i.e. automatisations of already existing processes. And here the blockchain comes into play: it’s the great enabler of this global development. That’s why I hereby submit that in 2025, the blockchain will be regarded as the biggest development in technology of the last 10 years.

Comments?

PS: This posts reflects my personal view which is not necessarily congruent with the Datarella team member’s