The International Rescue Committee (IRC) helps people affected by humanitarian crises to survive, recover and rebuild their lives. It delivers lasting impact by providing health care, helping children learn, and empowering individuals and communities to become self-reliant, always with a focus on the unique needs of women and girls. Founded in 1933, today it works in over 50 crisis-affected countries as well as communities throughout Europe and the Americas.
Delivering aid in emerging crises requires the ability to quickly respond to changing conditions to ensure impacted populations can meet basic needs such as food, medicine, and shelter. Providing immediate and timely cash aid enables the affected people to meet their basic needs with dignity and choice.
Since 2022, in response to the ongoing war in Ukraine, IRC has been providing cash assistance to conflict-affected people as a part of their emergency response.
IRC sought out the Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) to pilot a first-of-its-kind blockchain-powered aid disbursement system in Ukraine powered by the Stellar network with Stellar Aid Assist. By offering digital cash assistance that is transparent, portable, and accessible to anyone without a bank account through Stellar Aid Assist, IRC leveraged the power of the Stellar network to send assistance to recipients over a three month period. Through Stellar Aid Assist, organizations utilize the Stellar Disbursement Platform (SDP), a bulk global payment solution that enables organizations to disburse cash assistance in bulk to multiple recipients at once in minutes.
To initiate the process, IRC staff reviewed and verified eligibility of recipients and distributed an invite to them via a SMS invitation sent from the SDP inviting each to access their funds via Vibrant Assist, a digital wallet. Once recipients accessed funds via Vibrant Assist on their mobile phone, they were able to choose to retain their balance, partially draw down on funds, or fully cash out to meet urgent needs. Through the MoneyGram global network of over 300,000 retail locations, balances can be withdrawn into local currency across 180+ countries. Recipients displaced by the war could then choose to retain their funds as they travel across borders without the need to carry physical cash or vouchers.
Disbursements on the Stellar network are transparent and the SDP platform enables organizations to track the status of both batches of payments and the flow of funds to individual recipient wallets in real-time. Traceability of funds provided greater assurance to IRC and its donors that funds were delivered in a timely and efficient manner.
This model of scalable digital aid delivery is replicable across geographies, organizations, and can be used for use cases like disaster recovery relief, emergency responses, and in providing assistance to people on the move.
In the face of emerging crises, teams need the ability to respond swiftly to changing conditions. Providing immediate and dignified aid to those affected to purchase food, medicine, and shelter is crucial. In our collaboration with IRC, the Stellar Development Foundation deployed a groundbreaking blockchain-powered aid disbursement system. Through Stellar Aid Assist, we offered transparent, portable, and accessible digital cash assistance to conflict-affected individuals in Ukraine. Leveraging the Stellar network and the Stellar Disbursement Platform (SDP) enables organizations to disburse funds in real-time, ensuring timely and efficient assistance. This scalable digital aid delivery model, showcased in our successful pilot with IRC, is a testament to the transformative potential of blockchain in humanitarian efforts worldwide.
Denelle Dixon, CEO and Executive Director of the Stellar Development Foundation
At the end of this pilot, it was clear that a new model for digital aid delivery had emerged benefiting both the IRC and recipients in Ukraine.
A new, scalable model for aid delivery
Digital aid that is accessible when needed most
The IRC is committed to finding innovative solutions to the challenges faced by people impacted by humanitarian disasters. Our partnership with the Stellar Development Foundation enabled the IRC to offer a new way for clients in Ukraine to receive much needed cash assistance, including the option to receive assistance in USD, which is essential in helping to rebuild their lives. This partnership helped the IRC better leverage new technologies to continue improving the effectiveness and efficiencies of our multipurpose cash programming.
David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee
Contact us today to learn how your business can use Stellar to enable frictionless aid disbursement services and how the Stellar Development Foundation can help.