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How to Blockchain the Hunger Games

By Mihai Ivascu, CEO of Modex

“Do you know how many Marshall Plans have been allocated to Africa?” – our history teacher asked my class one day. Most of us said none, as we were aware the teacher was fond of trick questions. The right answer was too many.

While the Marshall Plan successfully tackled the issue of refugees and famine as large-scale problems in post-World War 2 Europe, the same methods utterly failed to work on the African continent. The same teacher provided the explanation: “Because all funds were mis-managed by the people directly involved”. When people fail to accomplish a task, it is necessary to replace them. This is where the essence of technology steps in, in my view. Tech companies’ ultimate goal is making people’s lives easier, but certain technologies are able to go beyond this purpose, and by way of their very design, are able to make people’s lives better.

State-of-the-art technology can step in, and it should serve as a corrective measure, from the administrative point of view at least, in those instances where people err. And if one considers the issue of famine across the world, or the issue of refugees – two problems that are actually interconnected – we can nowadays assert that there is a technology that can significantly alter the state of things.

“Tech companies’ ultimate goal is making people’s lives easier, but certain technologies are able to go beyond this purpose”

This is where blockchain may work its magic. It should be noted that blockchain no longer is a mere cryptocurrency technology, not by a long shot. Its features, such as immutability, data integrity and data security, can be converted into a real-life instrument for handling some of mankind’s major problems –famine foremost among them, as all clear-headed people would agree.

The natural question is: How can this be achieved? Numerous scenarios have been put forth. Let me briefly discuss a few basic issues that easily come to mind, where blockchain use may act as a handy solution.

Famine is a problem closely linked to refugees or, in other cases, to a lack of identity. In the case of refugees, we are dealing with people who have been left with nothing; a simple Google search for “Syria” will produce ample and convincing evidence. There are large numbers of refugees who no longer have an officially documented identity, whose traces have been lost in the red tape and who generate suspicions when they start over from scratch, with an identity document drawn up in a refugee camp. They can be suspected of terrorism, identity theft or identity swap, to mention a few.

A digital identity, backed by a blockchain database, created under UN supervision, would eliminate suspicions directed at these people – or at the African people who risk their lives to flee, in makeshift vessels bound for Europe, in an attempt to reach societies and countries offering better conditions and to start their lives anew.

WFP has been using blockchain to deliver food assistance to 106,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan.

Let us return to the topic of famine. How could blockchain, a technology that operates with data, help with the efforts to eradicate a plague that impacts one out of nine people worldwide?

There are numerous scenarios where blockchain could be suitably implemented, too many for the scope of this text. One should consider, for instance, that, according to official reports, at least 1.3 billion metric tons of food are discarded, lost, wasted. The question that arises is how could we efficiently prevent the discarding of that food, or to distribute humanitarian assistance while also improving local economies, so that it could be redirected to the starving.

Blockchain for zero hunger by WFP

Thankfully, we have a very good example used by World Food Programme. WFP has been rolling out blockchain technology —a type of distributed ledger technology— as part of its “Building Blocks” pilot. The scope is to make cash transfers more efficient, secure and transparent. Most notably, WFP has been using blockchain to deliver food assistance to 106,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan.

WFP initiated a proof-of-concept project in Sindh province, Pakistan, to test the capabilities of using blockchain for authenticating and registering beneficiary transactions. The blockchain technology allowed secure, and fast transactions between participants and WFP.  

“The Modex team is working hard to promote the widespread adoption of blockchain technology.”

Blockchain, in addition to being invisible, as it operates behind administrative – operative mechanisms, has the quality of being “trustworthy”; this is the very origin of the concept of blockchain. Because in blockchain, no one can modify anything without everyone else’s knowing about it. That’s the end of misconduct!

The versatility of blockchain technology is the differentiating factor when it comes to questions such as: Are there no other solutions that could be used to eradicate famine, even technology-related solutions? Why should blockchain be absolutely necessary? Why does the United Nations’ WEP program use blockchain? It’s a simple answer: because it provides/restores the trust that has been lost during several decades when people failed to feed other people. In addition, my own personal answer would be: because it works.

About Modex

Modex is a blockchain enablement platform. We radically simplify blockchain deployment so businesses can balance security and innovation.  

Modex was designed from the ground up as an on-demand enterprise blockchain infrastructure. We started with a simple question: what if using blockchain was as easy as using an API? The result is a platform that has you up and running with your first project in under 48 hours.  

Our platform is built for businesses frustrated with expensive consulting contracts and prolonged development timelines. Now you can secure and share your data without handing it over. With Modex, blockchain is a simple utility you use when and where you need it. 


  • Editorial Director of the The Fintech Times

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