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UN World Food Programme hails blockchain test a success

(C) iStock.com/chameleonseye

The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) has revealed that is testing the application of Blockchain to the way it provides assistance to those in need.

“Blockchain can revolutionise the way WFP delivers assistance to vulnerable families across the globe,” said Farman Ali, a WFP worker in the Karachi provincial office.

“It can bring us closer to the people we serve and allow us to respond much faster.”

So what exactly are the tests looking at?

Moving towards cash-based assistance

The WFP has moved towards providing more direct cash assistance in areas where markets and services are functioning at a reasonable level.

Providing recipients with cash instead of food packages not only means that they can choose what food to purchase, but also lets them pump cash into the local economy.

The WFP’s Innovation Accelerator is looking at ways that cash transfers can be made in a fast, reliable and secure way while also being cost-efficient.

This is where blockchain enters the picture.

Building blocks

The first field test was held in January in Sindh province, Pakistan.

As families received food and cash assistance a public blockchain were used to authenticate and record all the transactions. The blockchain worked through a smartphone interface, producing transaction reports that were used to match entitlement to disbursements.

The WFP highlights blockchain’s potential to allow faster intervention in environments that lack financial infrastructure. It also said it was monitoring the development of blockchain applications beyond cash-based transfers such as identity management and supply chain operations.

The field test was deemed a success and WFP is going to be undertaking a full-scale pilot in the coming months.

 

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