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Blockchain can save lives

Freija Poot
27 April 2018
It has been a well-known fact since long: the need for humanitarian assistance is increasing. Fortunately, innovation can make humanitarian aid more effective.  Blockchain technology is a perfect example of this. Belgium too wants to focus more on this aspect. This year, our country is investing a total of 20 million euros in innovation to improve humanitarian aid.


Need for humanitarian innovation

Long-lasting conflicts and climate change increase the need for humanitarian assistance.  Paradigms of humanitarian actions are constantly changing and challenge humanitarian organisations to adapt themselves. The complexity and frequency of humanitarian crises is increasing. Fortunately, innovation can provide creative approaches. For example, it is now possible to collect data in a targeted way and respond more effectively to humanitarian needs.  

Another trend is that food aid – e.g. through the World Food Programme (WFP) - is increasingly provided through cash payments in order to allow refugees to buy their own food. This approach stimulates the self-reliance of refugees and strengthens the local market, even in times of crisis. Besides, more people can be reached.


Commitment of Belgium

Together with the WFP, Belgium wants to use blockchain technology for carrying out cash payments in refugee camps. Thanks to the Belgian support, the WFP will be able to roll out blockchain for all 500,000 Syrian refugees in refugee camps in Jordan by mid-2018. Blockchain makes cash payments for food aid more efficient, secure and transparent. In addition, it reduces the payment cost.

Read the press release.

What is Blockchain?


  • The idea arose in 2008. Blockchain wants to carry out money transactions without the intervention of a traditional financial intermediary such as a bank.
  • Blockchain is a public database that accurately records every transaction.
  • A trusted intermediary such as a notary is replaced by a network of computers.
  • Each new transaction is added to the existing data as a link in a chain, hence the name "blockchain".
  • Any user can check the validity, which makes fraud impossible.
  • A disadvantage is that it consumes a huge amount of energy.


Humanitarian aid Innovation
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