The Future of Cash Based Assistance

WHY:

The International Disaster Database records a steady increase in the frequency of natural disasters over the past 35 years. In the past 10 years, the number of people affected by humanitarian crises have almost doubled, whilst the cost of humanitarian assistance has tripled. For this reason, the humanitarian world is undergoing a transformation in the way that aid is delivered. This transformation must not compromise the humanitarian principles of impartiality, neutrality and independence.

Assistance must always reach the most vulnerable. An effective way to support people affected by natural disasters is through a combination of CBA and FBF. FBF allows for both decision-makers and people affected to better prepare for and cope with natural disasters and thus reducing needs when disaster strikes. CBA offers a more efficient and dignified means to deliver assistance, empowers people in need and fosters local economies.

CURRENT CHALLENGES:

However, these CBA programs face multiple challenges. Every disaster type and local context has its unique set of challenges and in turn a unique set of solutions. The scope of the current solutions differ dramatically from high digital connectivity, to that of low or no connectivity. For this reason we started with a common set of parameters that we want to improve on. These can be clustered as:

TIME: Depending on the location, getting cash-based assistance to the most vulnerable can be a slow process. We aim for a system to trigger fund release from anything up to 6 days to 24 hours before a natural disaster strikes (for early warning and early action).

SAFETY: Both Red Cross field staff & volunteers, and the recipients of assistance, are vulnerable due to large amounts of physical cash.

COSTS: International bank transfers, hiring security and in-country logistical challenges creates high costs.

INCLUSIVENESS: Beneficiaries do not always have a proof of identity and are therefore not easily included in humanitarian aid across various humanitarian organizations.

SCALABILITY: Current solutions differ dramatically in each context.

WHO:

510 together with Tykn.tech are exploring the potential of humanitarian aid integrating blockchain in current humanitarian operations.

HOW:

We gathered both teams to meet with a diverse group, including experienced Red Cross cash delegates, system engineers, econometricians and social scientists. Through numerous sessions, we established the current and potential user journeys for all stakeholders. Highlighting challenges of beneficiary registration due to a lack of proof of identity. Incorporating the knowledge of a 150 years of providing humanitarian aid, we look at the social & economic factors that affect the potential technological applications and algorithms that can help identify and ultimately reach the most vulnerable.

WHEN:

The project will conduct a pilot integration in at least one of the current Red Cross operations during 2018.

WHERE:

The ultimate goal is to develop a system that can adapt to any type of disaster in any location. In the interest of scalability, we are exploring two very different local contexts. One with high digital connectivity as with St Maarten, and one with low to no connectivity such as the most vulnerable areas of Malawi.

510 x Tykn Press Release

510 is exploring the use of Blockchain in Humanitarian Aid with Tykn.tech.

The organization is looking for smarter and more efficient solutions to enhance aid when a natural disaster strikes.

510 and Tykn.tech are researching the potential of blockchain to improve cash based assistance. The organization aims to develop a system with a digital wallet that can be used to transfer money faster to those affected in a disaster area. With this money, those affected can purchase necessities like food, water and other relief goods. Today, the 510 data team of the Netherlands Red Cross and Tykn.tech are announcing their cooperation at The North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami.

In some specific cases, the Red Cross chooses to give money to those affected by a disaster to buy the things they need, like food. This process fosters the local economy, increases the resilience of the affected communities and reduces the need of food parcel distributions.


Safe and Efficient

510 and Tykn.tech are researching how blockchain technology can make cash distributions both safer and more efficient. The use of blockchain can, among other things, reduce the logistical challenges where cash distributions are involved. This makes the situation safer for both Red Cross field staff and those affected by the disaster. In parallel, the use of blockchain has the potential to lower overhead costs and accelerate the aid process. As each digital wallet could be linked to an individual, it would be easier to see who has or has not received aid.

“We know from experience that in some specific cases, giving money instead of relief goods works better. Blockchain could optimize this process. To insure we explore to the fullest, we have chosen to work with Tykn.tech”, says Stefania Giodini, team leader of the 510 data team.

“Because of my experience as a refugee, I know the importance of the responsible use of data in humanitarian aid. Working with 510 ensures we can create a process that meets the needs of those affected.”, says Tey el-Rjula, founder of Tykn.tech.

How and if humanitarian aid can integrate blockchain and what the practical implications will be is currently being researched.

 

St. Maarten

St-Maarten has been heavily affected by hurricane Irma and therefore there are currently many Red Cross projects, both running and planned, that focus on recovery. 510 is building on the learnings of St-Maarten’s unique set of challenges and is investigating the potential of blockchain to positively impact these projects. The ultimate goal is to develop a system that can adapt to any type of disaster in any local context.