Project overview

The responsible use of innovation and technology enables WFP to build pathways to peace, stability, and prosperity for those recovering from conflict, disasters, and the impact of climate change. Blockchain technology is part of that solution.

Building Blocks is the world’s largest implementation of blockchain technology for humanitarian assistance; currently assisting 1 million people in Bangladesh and Jordan, enabling them to securely access and receive multiple forms of assistance from different organizations via one access point.

The project has now completed its life cycle with the WFP Innovation Accelerator.

1 million+ people supported every month
1M+
people supported every month
2 active countries
2
active countries
US$ 309 million in assistance provided
US$ 309M
in assistance provided
14M
transactions processed to date
US$ 2.4M
saved in bank fees to date
People at the centre of humanitarian response

Building Blocks is designed to let people securely access assistance to meet their household essential needs according to their priorities. Food, nutrition, education, health and other requirements can only be meaningfully addressed by meeting a household’s range of essential needs at the same time. Building Blocks enables people to receive different types of assistance from multiple humanitarian organizations in one “go”, reducing the complexity of accessing humanitarian support.

Concurrently, no sensitive information, such as names, dates of birth, or biometrics, are stored anywhere on Building Blocks. The system uses anonymous identifiers to ensure the privacy and security of people served.

Building Blocks started as a 100-person pilot in Pakistan, with support from the WFP Innovation Accelerator. Since 2017, Building Blocks has been scaled to provide US$ 309 million worth of cash transfers to 1 million refugees in Bangladesh and Jordan, making it the world’s largest implementation of blockchain technology for humanitarian assistance.

Building Blocks

 

Jordan: Since 2017, WFP has leveraged Building Blocks to support the rising influx of Syrian refugees in Jordan and to date supports 106,000 people with food assistance. UN Women joined Building Blocks in 2019 and it is channeling cash for work assistance through the network. Building Blocks has saved WFP the equivalent of US$ 2.4 million in transaction fees in Jordan — funds that can be redirected to serve more people in need.

Bangladesh: Building Blocks serves 870,000 Rohingya refugees monthly across various programs operating in the world’s largest refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar. Building Blocks enables the delivery of assistance through e-vouchers outlets where people can redeem different entitlements in one transaction.

Lebanon: Building Blocks served as a coordination platform in Lebanon, helping 15 different organizations streamline their operations, and coordinating the assistance before distributing it to the people. This helps avoid duplication and provides families with the right support at the right time, as efficiently as possible. In the aftermath of the Beirut port explosion, Building Blocks coordinated the distribution of US$ 56 million in assistance.

 

Building Blocks
Building Blocks as a humanitarian coordination network

In responding to a crisis or emergency, multiple organizations are likely to assist the same people with food, health, shelter, protection programming, often using different systems and processes for program design and assistance allocation. Building Blocks opens an unprecedented opportunity to coordinate these efforts, improving efficiency and transparency of assistance.

Building Blocks was created to enable various organizations to connect, collaborate and run their global operations with the prime objective to improve the lives of the people served in constrained environments.

Through Building Blocks multiple  organizations can maintain up-to-date records of the services provided to people, helping to ensure that they are not duplicating efforts, wasting valuable resources, or excluding individuals from receiving assistance, ultimately delivering effective and well targeted support.

Building Blocks

Building Blocks: How it works

Fundamentally, Building Blocks is a collection of blockchain nodes which are computer servers independently operated by each participating organization. Together, they connect to form a humanitarian blockchain network that provides a neutral space to collaborate, transact and securely share information in a real-time. The network is neutral without a hierarchy of ownership: all member organizations are 100 percent equal co-owners, co-operators, and co-governors of the network and all members play an equal role in its upkeep.

WFP has developed a robust application on the Building Blocks network that enables tracking, coordination, and delivery of multiple types of assistance, including cash, food, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), medicine and more.

The technical blockchain infrastructure to operate the network is based on an open-source software and is freely accessible to participating organizations. The applications deployed on the Building Blocks network are also available for free to the network members.

WFP is inviting other United Nations agencies and humanitarian actors to collaborate on a neutral blockchain network to improve cooperation, reduce fragmentation, bolster efficiency — and ultimately further empower the people we serve.

Last updated: 26/11/2021