A Cross-Sector Humanitarian Focused Blockchain Would Help Humanitarian Sector Build More Trust and Efficiency

The Danish Red Cross, in collaboration with Mercy Corps and Hiveonline, has released a new research report titled "The Next Generation Humanitarian Distributed Platform" which calls for the development of a new, cross-sector blockchain platform harnessing the Red Cross ethos of "do no harm".

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“Blockchain, as a globally accessible, distributed database, has the potential to be useful to a wide number of people, and within the Red Cross we are always looking into new innovative solutions that can enable us to help more people. The findings of the report are highly interesting for the humanitarian sector,” said Signe Yde-Andersen, Head of the International Department at the Danish Red Cross. “This report is a call to action for a blockchain for good, to drive investment and unlock innovation in the sector.”

The report is compiled from responses of 35 survey participants and 39 direct interviews, representing stakeholders in the humanitarian sector, including NGO project implementers, consultants, blockchain developers, academics, and founders. The research took place over a five-month period from June to October.

A Collective Call To Action To Develop A Cross-Sector "Blockchain For Good"

A cross-sector blockchain platform is a digital database that can be simultaneously used and shared within a large decentralized, publicly accessible network by multiple NGOs and international organizations. Such a platform could support applications ranging from cash and voucher distribution to identity services, natural capital, and carbon tracking, and donor engagement.

Indeed, the development of a shared, sector-wide “blockchain for good” would allow the aid sector to better automate and track processes in real-time and maintain secure records. This would help modernize and coordinate the sector to reach more people as increasing threats such as pandemics, climate change, and natural disasters require aid to be disbursed faster, more widely, and efficiently.

To help facilitate the development of this distributed platform, the report has called for the creation of a committee to develop cross-sector governance and coordinate the implementation of a shared “Humanitarian Distributed Platform”. According to Adam Bornstein, Lead of the Innovative Finance and Systems Change at the Danish Red Cross, "the technology can help organizations fulfill commitments made to transparency, collaboration and efficiency under the Humanitarian Grand Bargain."

Danish Red Cross Leading By Example

Earlier this year, in recognition of the growing importance of data and digitalization in humanitarian response, the Danish Red Cross (DRC) hired, Bjørn Borup, as its first Cheif Digital Officer. 

The Innovative Finance and Systems Change team, together with the new digital department, ensures that the DRC will continue to proactively spin-up innovative technology solutions that measurably improve the effectiveness and efficiency of humanitarian assistance.

Indeed, over the past 30-months, the DRC has engaged in several innovative blockchain and distributed technology projects, such as Community Inclusion Currencies (CIC) which is a response and recovery relief platform supporting over 200,000 vulnerable individuals in Kenya across 70 urban, peri-urban, and rural communities. The CIC program builds off of the community currency platform developed by Kenya based foundation Grassroots Economics and is a collaboration between Kenya Red Cross Society, Innovation Norway, Norwegian Red Cross, and the IFRC. 

The CIC program is just one of a number of cross-sector distributed initiatives being developed by the DRC. If you are interested in learning more about our programs that range from Insurance Linked Securities (ILS) to artificial intelligence to complex system analysis, please contact the Innovative Finance and System Change team.