Amidst the saddening news of deadly chemical attacks and counter air strikes in the war-riddled nation of Syria, an innovative humanitarian program called Building Blocks is using cutting-edge block chain technology to provide food relief measures to Syrian refugee camps. This pioneering tech initiative is changing the face of humanitarian help as we know it.
Thousands of Syrians have yet again fled to the neighbouring town of Jordan as a consequence of deepened political turmoil. With no place to stay, no money and no ID, one of their biggest struggles is regaining stable purchasing power. Up until now UN’s World Food Program (WFP) would deliver food to help refugees in Jordanian refugee camps. In 2017, by collaborating with industry partners, WFP has developed an innovative refugee program that provides relief in the form of Ethereum. This program has empowered refugees to carry out daily retail transactions using WFP-provided assistance at retailers with block chain technology. The public-ledger-fueled program gives them a digital identity and the ease of transacting without bank transfers fees.
The economic benefit of using Ethereum as a monetary form is that these refugees can buy essential items without having to show proof of residence. They also save on the extra cost of bank processing fees for transactions that require intermediaries. The vast social benefit of this creative system is that these refugees can avail instant relief measures despite having fled their homes.
Building Blocks, the brainchild of Houman Haddad at UN’s WPF, uses an iris recognition technology called IrisGuard for verification. When a refugee enters a supermarket, their iris is scanned and verified after which the amount is sent to Building Blocks. Building Blocks instantly authenticates the amount and a purchase is made! Originative and convenient service initiatives like this is exactly what is needed to help countless refugees regain some semblance of a normal life and move on with their lives.