Connecting Refugees to Aid through Blockchain - Enabled ID Management: World Food Programme’s Building Blocks

Zambrano, R., Young, A. and Verhulst, S.
Publication language
Date published
01 Oct 2018
Research, reports and studies
Cash-based transfers (CBT), Food and nutrition, Innovation

The World Food Programme’s (WFP) core mandate is to eliminate world hunger. Its mandate also includes support in emergency and crisis situations, such as the refugee crisis that emerged from Syria’s civil war. Estimates show that over 800 million people in the world are hungry. According to the WFP, it supports over 80 million people worldwide. For much of WFP’s lifespan, humanitarian assistance traditionally took the form of direct food, clothing, or sanitary product delivery, leading to high costs and considerable logistical distribution challenges.

More recently, financial assistance for refugees transitioned to a system of vouchers or prepaid debit cards. WFP provides support to over 14 million people via these cash-based transfers, roughly 15% of the total population supported by the UN agency. This approach allows for beneficiaries to purchase necessities from a store rather than receiving them from WFP directly, thereby lowering transaction costs and improving WFP’s ability to leverage and collaborate with local actors. There is growing evidence to show marked improvements in poverty reduction, health, and nutrition resulting from humanitarian cash-based transfers (including but not limited to WFP’s efforts).