Beyond Money: Blockchain for International Aid

Continuing with the tradition of mixing currency and finance, this week we will be looking into international aid and how blockchain could revolutionize this process. As more of the world continues to find itself in war-torn areas or under massive currency inflations, cryptocurrencies and blockchain have already been applied internationally to ensure accessibility of aid in the communities where there is least access to anything.

Take for instance war-torn Syria. The country is nearly impossible to live without international aid, but when that aid arrives in the form of food, clothing or even monetary aid for government relief, it seldom makes it’s way down to the people because war has destroyed the already poor infrastructure of this nation. In early 2017, the United Nation World Food Program had successfully launched the first Ethereum backed application that distributed vouchers to be traded for goods at participating merchants.

A program analogous to this could be the solution to solving problems of starvation and lack of access to goods in hyper-inflated countries like the current state of Venezuela. Introducing an analogous voucher would revitalize the Venezuelan. First, any monetary relief offered to Venezuela would largely serve to erase the government debt and hyperinflation, and until those stabilize, people will continue to starve. If the voucher system is introduced, people will be able to start getting access to the goods they need, which will incentivize merchants to re-furnish their shelfs slowly rebuilding the nation’s economy along side it’s governmental financial recovery. The people should not have to suffer for the mistakes of a corrupt government, and blockchain allows us to save the individual while holding governments accountable.

On a larger scale, blockchain can ensure the appropriate usage of international aid. The stories of government heads in third world countries pocketing international aid and relied are plenty, and they continue to happen because governments and institutions offering aid often lack the permission or infrastructure to track the monetary aid usage of receiving governments. By introducing the blockchain system, all aid withdrawals and spending will be reflected on the chain, which both the receiving government can see as well as the lending institution, but that neither institution can alter without disrupting the system and ultimately demonstrating financial fraud.

The blockchain system is a method of accountability when implemented properly, and it’s decentralized nature is less invasive than foreign  agents actively managing the recipient nation’s financial sector. By logging each transaction on the chain, the lending parties are better equipped to understand where the money is being, how much of it is being used, and where the money actually went.

Ultimately, the chain allows for an independent ledger that none of the participating parties can alter any aspect of it without alerting all other parties of the change. International aid and relief has always been the duty of democratic nations, but for too long this duty has been willfully ignored. While aid is routinely disbursed by several nations and other institutions, seldom does it promote the impact it ought to because of a lack of enforcement. Without an omnipotent international organization, it is up to each country to permit or deny access, but with blockchain, we can connect the world without foregoing the liberties afforded to each of us.

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