The European nation of Belgium has contributed €2 million ($2.4 million) to support the United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) and its technology projects, including its blockchain-based payments pilot for refugees.
As CoinDesk has previously reported, WFP launched an ethereum-based payments pilot in 2017 with the intention of increasing the efficacy and transparency of cash transfers to displaced Syrians in Jordanian refugee camps.
As such, Belgium’s contribution will be used to expand research of the agency’s blockchain solutions in addition to its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) project, which it intends to use for topographical data collection and damage analysis to better cope with natural disasters.
“Only by finding better ways to deliver aid more efficiently will we close the gap between requirements and aid delivery on the ground,” Belgium’s deputy prime minister and minister for development cooperation, Alexander De Croo, said in a statement announcing the decision Thursday.
“Belgium lauds the efforts of the WFP to come up with innovative solutions to save more lives and help more people in need.”
The U.N’s food assistance branch claims the project, dubbed Building Blocks, “is delivering more [aid] for less, offering donors better value for money.”
WFP chief of staff Rehan Asad said in the statement that it was necessary to meet mounting global crises with innovative solutions.
“Humanitarians must relentlessly look for ways to harness the most promising digital technologies in the service of the world’s most vulnerable people,” he said. “We are grateful to committed partners such as Belgium for helping us do just that.”
The WFP is one of several U.N. agencies exploring blockchain applications. In 2017, the U.N. Office for Project Services (UNOPS) organized a blockchain working group which, in addition to the WFP, includes the participation of the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP), the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), U.N. Women, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the U.N. Development Group (UNDG).
WFP image via U.S. Department of Defense