Irish Charity Receives $1.1M Grant to Build Blockchain Platform for Aid Distribution

The grant will also allow Oxfam to scale the project across the Pacific region and explore its potential in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean.

Jul 3, 2020 at 6:14 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 8:59 a.m. UTC

Oxfam Ireland, a Belfast-based charity fighting global poverty, has received a €1 million ($1.1 million) grant to fund the next phase of a blockchain aid distribution project.

  • Oxfam is piloting the Ethereum-based platform with benefit corporation Emerging Impact and Australian tech firm Sempo in the South Pacific Ocean nation of Vanuatu, according to an Irish Times report
  • The project, UnBlocked Cash, was awarded the grant from the European Innovation Council in a competition called Blockchains for Social Good to run the second phase of the pilot.
  • In June 2019, Oxfam announced it had spent a month completing phase one of the  pilot, using MakerDAO’s stablecoin DAI as a vehicle for helping disaster victims. The project aims to deliver aid in the form of “smart vouchers” to disaster areas and uses stablecoins like MakerDAO’s DAI to enable cheap cross border transactions.
  • In the first phase of the pilot, 200 residents in the villages of Pango and Mele Maat on the island of Efate received tap-and-pay cards, each loaded with about 4,000 vatu ($50) in DAI, according to Australian news outlet Mickey. The cards were used for payments across a network of local stores and schools, with 32 vendors in total.
  • The second phase of the pilot will include more than 5,000 participants and 100 vendors, according to the Times. Oxfam pitched the project to a jury in Brussels and was one of 24 projects picked from 178 applications, the charity said.
  • Oxfam claims the project has cut delivery times for aid by 96% and cut transaction costs by 60%.
  • The grant will also allow Oxfam to scale the project across the Pacific region and explore its potential in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, the Times report said.
  • "Future plans seek to address the needs of over 2.7 million disaster-exposed and vulnerable people across the Pacific Region, as well as expanding use across the Oxfam Confederation, which reached 22.3 million people, across 90 countries, in 2018 alone,” Oxfam Ireland’s Director of Programme Niamh Carty said in a written statement.
  • UPDATE (July 6, 15:58 UTC): An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that ConSensys was involved in the pilot. The Ethereum venture studio is no longer involved in the project.
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