Rahat: An open-source, blockchain based, Humanitarian Aid distribution management system

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With the main goal to make the aid distribution process for vulnerable communities simple, efficient and transparent, Rahat is inspired by the idea of bringing in quick relief with minimum overhead costs to counter the plight of countries like Nepal by plugging in leakages in the aid distribution process.

Rahat platform is an open-source, blockchain-based humanitarian aid distribution management system. Rahat platform includes an online dashboard, a digital wallet, a vendor app, and a QR code/SMS-based token redemption process for beneficiaries. Rahat’s online dashboard supports aid agencies to onboard local partners/vendors and to assign relief fund tokens to beneficiaries. 

Image: Rahat Ecosystem

The tokens will be issued in an Ethereum blockchain network called ERC-20 tokens. ERC-20 is a protocol standard that defines certain rules and standards for issuing tokens on Ethereum’s network. The token transaction and verification are managed by the EVM-based blockchain network. Rahat uses these tokens to manage and monitor the flow of aid transactions. These tokens represent a set of rules that are encoded in a smart contract and belong to a blockchain address. Rahat uses these tokens as they can be accessed only through Rahat’s wallet which helps prevent the fraud and ensure that only the respective vendor and/or beneficiary have the custody or are the owner of the token and can be provided with the relief or redeemed with cash. Blockchain network provides unparalleled security for fund distribution and also helps maintain end-to-end transparency and real-time visibility into the flow of funds. 

Beneficiaries use QR and/or SMS codes to redeem their tokens for cash or goods from participating local vendors. The Rahat dashboard allows easy distribution of tokens to all the registered beneficiaries' wallets by simply entering the desired amount. After distribution, each beneficiary’s mobile phone number will be allowed a balance of tokenized funds intended for use within the Rahat ecosystem and the beneficiary will be allowed to use the value of the fund in their allocated balance. The QR codes are used as they are capable of storing a lot of data and when scanned allow the user to access the information instantly. The QR codes make it easier to track the information, authenticate the information, and above all they are secured as the chances of QR code cards being hacked is minimal.

Vendors can redeem their tokens for local currency through a financial service provider. These digital tokens are then burned or transferred back to agencies to avoid double-spending and to ensure that the used tokens don’t go back into circulation and get misused. To burn these tokens, the token’s signature is put into an irretrievable public wallet known as an “eater address” that is viewable by all nodes but frozen. The bank burns these tokens by sending them to the “eater wallet”, hence completing the whole Rahat cycle.

Blockchain network provides unparalleled security for fund distribution and also helps maintain end-to-end transparency and real-time visibility into the flow of funds. Thus, Rahat enables decentralized distribution through blockchain technology making the entire process of aid distribution more secure, transparent, and efficient. 

Rahat makes it possible to effectively include unbanked populations for aid distribution. With digital tokens, beneficiaries can determine how much money they want to spend to the vendor without needing to reveal payment account information. Direct transfer between parties helps reduce time to deliver aid, auditability risk, and privacy risks. 

Since its inception about a year ago, Rahat has been conducting pilot projects regularly to not just upgrade its technology and shortcomings but also to create an impact in society by distributing aid to the needy. Rahat pilots have been very promising and the team has been able to impact the lives of 220+ families affected by Covid-19 with the direct use of the Rahat platform.  Taking into account the constant feedback from the end-users, team Rahat has continuously been improving the user experience for the Rahat app with a better user interface and has been upgrading the service with features in each new pilot. With these pilots, the Rahat project has made people believe that aid distribution can actually be hassle-free, easy, timely, effective, and extremely efficient.  You can learn more about the pilot projects here.

Through Rahat's journey, it can be analyzed that the team has been working meticulously to bring about a revolutionary change in the world of aid distribution. With the support and mentorship from UNICEF Innovation Fund and continuous guidance and meticulous efforts from  Justin Flory, the Rahat project has been scaling up as an Open-Source solution. As an open-source solution, project Rahat will unlock the doors to collaborate digital development and ultimately increase impact in distributing aid globally. Open source will enable innovation by co-creating Rahat with the community as a huge number of community developers with different perspectives but working on the same code-base will lead to the exponential increase in the potential of a system and reduce development, testing, and audit costs for the software. A countless number of passionate users can not just constantly add, modify or build off the open-source codebase to create new platforms but also fix the technical glitches and bugs as the community of developers work separately to fix them and bring in new ideas to the table for relief distribution. UNICEF Innovation Fund has been providing team Rahat with their documented resources that comprises the best practices and resources for working on open-source projects.

UNICEF Innovation Fund provides early-stage funding and support to frontier technology solutions that benefit children and the world. The Innovation Fund has invested in 126 frontier technology solutions from 68 countries that have the potential to create a positive change for humanity. This year, Treejer Protocol from Iran,  Grassroots Economics and Kotani Pay from Kenya, BX Smart Labs from Mexico, Somish Blockchain Labs from India, Leaf Wallet from Rwanda, Xcapit from Argentina are the 7 different companies from 6 different countries that have become part of UNICEF Innovation Fund’s portfolio alongside project Rahat of Rumsan from Nepal. 

Did you know that the application for the new cohort of UNICEF Innovation Fund Opportunity for Tech Startups is open and the UNICEF Innovation Fund is looking to make up to 100K equity-free investments to provide early-stage (seed) finance to for-profit emerging technology solutions? Learn more and apply at UNICEF Innovation Fund about the UNICEF Innovation Fund Selection Process .