How Blockchain Technology Is Helping Syrian Refugees

Siobhan Kenna at the Huffpost: “Azraq Refugee Camp is a 15 kilometre-wide sea of corrugated aluminium houses in the heart of the vast Jordanian desert. The people that live there are detained by the barbed wire that surrounds the entire complex which is located an hour and a half from the country’s capital city, Amman….

From within the strange environment of the camp and the indistinct future, lies a bastion of normalcy for these people — the supermarket.

In the refugee camp the supermarket is much more than a place to shop or purchase food though: Here it is a vital fibre in the social fabric of a makeshift community….

It’s unbelievable to think then, that a place that is so remote and isolated could be home to a world first initiative involving the emerging Blockchain technology.

The Building Blocks Project is the brain child of Houman Haddad, Regional CBT Advisor for United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). The project aims to make cash-based transactions between the WFP and the beneficiary faster, cheaper and more secure.

Prior to the project’s launch at the Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan in May 2017, it was first trialled in Pakistan and also in King Abduallah Park Refugee Camp as a means of testing the robustness of the technology. On May 31st 2017 the pilot in Azraq was extended indefinitely.

Traditionally, payments are made to refugees from the WFP via a third party financial service provider. The entity could be a bank, mobile monetary company or something similar and the WFP instructs the financial service provider to credit some of the funds to the refugee so they can spend it at the supermarket or elsewhere.

On top of that, the WFP also needs to transfer the funds to the third party so they can actually pay the beneficiary. Sounds complicated right? Well, the Building Blocks Project aims to eliminate reliance on a third party and with this comes plenty of savings.

“So, what we have done is essentially replaced that financial service provider with the Blockchain,” Houman Haddad told HuffPost Australia.

“So instead of having someone else create virtual accounts and credit functions and so on and so forth, we create the virtual account on the Blockchain for beneficiaries, we upload entitlements to them, and currently in the supermarket where they go, the supermarket requests an authorisation code for transactions from the Blockchain as opposed to the bank….(More)”.