- UNHCR, in partnership with Stellar Development Foundation, launches a blockchain-based payment solution for aiding displaced persons in Ukraine.
- The pilot program, utilizing USDC stablecoin, provides secure and efficient cash assistance directly to recipients.
Innovating Humanitarian Aid Through Blockchain Technology
In a significant development for humanitarian assistance, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in collaboration with the Stellar Development Foundation (SDF), has announced the launch of an innovative blockchain payment solution. This initiative is aimed at providing efficient and secure digital cash distribution to internally displaced persons (IDPs) and other individuals affected by the war in Ukraine.
— INATBA (@INATBA_org) January 31, 2024
A Groundbreaking Approach to Aid Distribution
This pilot program, powered by the Stellar network, represents a first-of-its-kind integration of blockchain technology in humanitarian aid efforts. The Stellar network’s capability to facilitate swift and transparent transactions plays a pivotal role in this new approach. The UNHCR, working alongside the United Nations International Computing Centre (UNICC), is one of the first entities to utilize this technology for humanitarian purposes.
The program is particularly significant in its use of the USDC stablecoin, where one USDC equals one US Dollar. This provides a stable store of value for recipients, enabling them to securely hold and transfer funds without the need to carry physical cash. This feature is especially crucial for those needing to travel within the country or across borders.
Expanding the Reach of Humanitarian Assistance
Initially rolled out in Kyiv, Lviv, and Vinnytsia, the program is set to expand to other Ukrainian towns and cities. The funds provided through this initiative aim to assist the most impacted and vulnerable individuals, helping them cover essential needs such as accommodation, food, medical care, and heating during the winter months.
The pilot phase, which has been rigorously tested over the last six months, is designed to be adaptable for global deployment. This scalability underscores UNHCR’s commitment to expanding the systematic use of Cash-Based Interventions (CBIs). Since the introduction of its first Policy on CBIs in 2016, UNHCR has delivered almost USD 5 billion in cash assistance to around 35 million people across 100 countries.
Pioneering Financial Inclusion and Transparency
This blockchain initiative aligns with UNHCR’s goals to enhance the rapid deployment of cash assistance, providing displaced people with the freedom and dignity to prioritize their needs. The use of blockchain technology not only ensures transparency and accountability in the distribution of funds but also marks a significant step in humanitarian efforts globally.
Karolina Lindholm Billing, UNHCR Representative to Ukraine, emphasized the importance of technical solutions in increasing access to social protection and assistance for displaced people. SDF CEO Denelle Dixon also highlighted the transformative potential of blockchain in delivering aid efficiently and transparently.
In conclusion, this pioneering initiative by UNHCR and SDF through the Stellar network demonstrates the powerful impact of blockchain technology in revolutionizing humanitarian aid. The project is not only a testament to innovation but also a beacon of hope for those affected by the war in Ukraine, setting a precedent for future humanitarian efforts worldwide.