In the middle of the North Arab Desert and 90 minutes from Jordan’s capital city, Amman, lies a refugee camp home to over 32,000 people.
A Civil War and Remnants of Normality
Known as Azraq Refugee Camp, the 15 kilometers across which it spans are made up of simple aluminum dwellings, lived in by families and people torn apart by the ongoing Syrian Civil War. After fleeing their country in search of safety, they now reside at Azraq indefinitely, in the hope of finding better lives.
Many of the people were left with nothing, gathering only a few belongings before they fled. With life as they knew it permanently destroyed, their future remains uncertain.
The center of many of their lives is the supermarket, offering a beacon of normalcy in an otherwise chaotic situation. Abuzz with activity, it is a place of friendly interactions, a past-time that has become even more important.
Augmenting Human Capital with Blockchain
A new initiative to weave blockchain technology into the day-to-day operations of the supermarket has been met with great excitement – and it is already beginning to change lives.
Houman Haddad of the UN World Food Program is responsible for the creation of the one-of-a-kind project entitled Building Blocks. Through a unique implementation of blockchain technology, the WFP aims to make essential purchases from the store cheaper, safer and quicker to process.
The new blockchain purchasing system removes the need for a third party FSP, as was traditionally the case. Previously used were institutions such as banks or other monetary companies which facilitated transactions between the WFP and the store, who then issues the goods to the person to whom they were due.
With the blockchain replacing the third party financial services provider, merchant’s fees are eliminated. This is primarily due to the decentralized nature of cryptocurrency. The peer-to-peer operation thereof allows it to function wholly independent of any financial institutions (or regulatory bodies).
Powered by Ethereum
Building Blocks is powered by Ethereum, one of the best-performing cryptocurrency of 2017. Having risen by over 6,500 percent over the course of the year, the Building Blocks project is a testament to its versatility and potential for practical implementation.
The pilot of the Building Blocks project in Azraq Refugee Camp was scheduled for completion on 31 May 2017. However, its enormous success has reversed that decision. To the pleasure of the World Food Programme and the residents concerned, the project has been implemented indefinitely in the wake of positive results.
Officials expect that this technology will be extended to other refugee camps and similar environments shortly.
Ethereum’s part in the Building Blocks project is not the only way that blockchain and cryptocurrency can assist in poverty-stricken areas. In a Forbes article on July 24, 2017, Nikolai Kuznetsov discussed the concept that the blockchain could go as far as to end world poverty.
Another application of blockchain technology is The Borgen Project, which aims at establishing identity, improving healthcare, as well as altering the flow of money for the people of impoverished areas. Earlier this year, during Hurricane Harvey, donors were asked to give donations in the form of bitcoin and dash to help survivors.
As more individuals, organizations, and governments work to use the blockchain in the most meaningful way, the lives of people all over the world are gradually changing for the better.