23 March 2017 EconoTimes
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) revealed earlier this month that it is testing blockchain potential to transform the fight against hunger.
“Blockchain technology, most famously associated with the crypto-currency Bitcoin, offers unique opportunities for humanitarian agencies to provide the best-possible assistance to vulnerable people around the world”, the WFP said.
In a blog post, the WFP said that its Innovation Accelerator is exploring approaches to delivering cash-based transfers in order to reduce costs and risks, while improving data protection and speeding up delivery. To that end, it said that the first, successful test at field level of its blockchain innovation — called ‘Building Blocks’ — was carried out in January in the Sindh province, Pakistan.
“As vulnerable families received WFP food and cash assistance, the transactions were authenticated and recorded on a public blockchain through a smartphone interface. Transaction reports generated were then used to match the disbursements with entitlements”, the WFP explained.
The WFP is closely monitoring the scope of blockchain technology for applications beyond cash-based transfers, identity management, and supply chain operations. It said that the lessons learnt from the first phase in Pakistan would be used to move towards a “full-scale pilot”.
“Blockchain can revolutionize the way WFP delivers assistance to vulnerable families across the globe. It can bring us closer to the people we serve and allow us to respond much faster,” Farman Ali, a regional official for the WFP, said.