Blockchain Technology In Humanitarian Programming
In the ever-changing environment of humanitarian aid few things are constant, there is need for humanitarian organizations to find innovative ways to be efficient and effective in aid delivery while being financially feasible. This is against the background of reduced aid in contrast to increased frequency and impact of disasters.
The Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) as a humanitarian organization has also felt the brunt of these changes. In order to overcome these challenges, KRCS has adopted innovation strategies such as the use of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) through its Knowledge Hub at the International Centre for Humanitarian Affairs’ (ICHA).
These innovative strategies included the piloting of Blockchain technology together with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in a cash transfer project that was conducted in Isiolo County. The target beneficiaries were 2,100 from Oldonyiro and Sericho Sub Counties in Isiolo County where all the cash transfers were recorded on multichain private Blockchain.
The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent together with the KRCS would like to scale up cash transfer interventions using Blockchain technology as one of the measures and monitoring tools that are being put in place to help streamline Cash Transfer Programming.
“Infrastructure and identity is key in Government service delivery. The Government has to work to create an enabling environment for relief agencies by creating appropriate infrastructure in collaboration with the private sector so as to deliver,” said Dr. Bitange Ndemo, Chairman of the Blockchain Taskforce and Artificial Intelligence.
Blockchain is a digital ledger in which transactions can be undertaken across a network of computers and large sum of data stored. It has been hailed as transformative and disruptive calling for changes not just in technology but systems too.
Blockchain technology offers the advantages of transparency as all parties in a system can see each transaction creating trust and reducing chances of undetected human error. Furthermore, once the data has been uploaded the cryptography technology makes it very difficult for data to be manipulated without detection. The immutability aspect of Blockchain reduces the risk of deliberate tampering.
The Blockchain technology’s ecosystem is also created in a way that ensures scalability and sustainability. Scalability in terms of being able to increase information on the chain at any given time. Sustainability can be achieved through the incorporation of various systems that improve the quality of data and while reducing the cost of operations. These advantages make the Blockchain technology appealing for use within the humanitarian sector.
“Blockchain is inherently scalable and the management of the technology is always easier than integrating the human element into the platform. KRCS has had a successful pilot using blockchain but in dynamic humanitarian situations there will always be risks and challenges,” Said KRCS ICT Officer Hassan Hajir during the Panel Discussions
“Adoption of blockchain technologies will be much faster with increased public private sector partnerships.” Praveen Kumar Founder and CEO Belfrics
The main objective of the forum was to influence policymakers and provoke discussion around adoption and regulation of Block chain technology by the Government. The forum is also expected to create awareness on the potential possibilities and applicability of Block chain technology in the humanitarian sector while drawing from the experience of stakeholders in various fields.
"Blockchain Technology will not be the solution for all our problems; rather a cocktail of technologies appropriately applied at the right time and by the right users will be useful in improving the Humanitarian Interventions,” Nicholas Nesbitt, Country General Manager, IBM concluded.