Rahat: Aid agencies transforming the humanitarian aid distribution using Blockchain technology

Introduction

Rahat, which means relief in Nepali, is a digital relief distribution and management system. It is a digital Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) management system that uses mobile-based blockchain tokens for emergency response and recovery programs for humanitarian agencies for aid distribution. It is based on blockchain technology to distribute cash and commodities through digital tokens to the beneficiaries. It enables the token distribution digitally through mobile phones using One-Time-Password (OTP) which would be verified by the merchants’ mobile app through a blockchain network. Blockchain innovation can give significant advantages in the humanitarian sector with protected data sharing, supply chain, donor financing, cash programs, and crowdfunding. By providing a decentralized, verifiable source of data, blockchain technology can enable a more transparent, efficient form of information and data management.

Rahat Platform

The Rahat platform has four actors to carry out the aid distribution process. The actors are aid agencies, merchant vendors, beneficiaries, and financial institutions. Each actor has a specific role to play in Rahat. Rahat consists of three major applications which are interconnected to each other. Rumsan wallet, Rahat Agency app, and Rahat Vendor app. Online dashboards are used by the aid agency. It integrates multiple metrics into a single reporting interface, reducing the time and effort required to prepare reports and facilitating information related to the aid/ Rahat distribution by sharing within the organization. It provides the details related to the tokens distributed and used by vendors, social mobilizers, and beneficiaries, respectively. Likewise, the users make transactions through the Rahat mobile app. Similarly, a Digital wallet is a digital signature that provides a unique identifier to the aid agency through which they can log in to the Rahat application.

To distribute the relief, first of all, First and foremost, the aid agency uses the Rumsan digital wallet, a digital signature base (password-less unique digital signature/identifier) to login into the Rahat application.

They need to open the agency app login page and then scan the QR code and finally get on board in the online agency dashboard. Once the aid agency is logged in through Rumsan wallet, they can perform all the blockchain-based transactions using the same. The aid agencies register their users, create projects, use the dashboard to onboard vendors and assign relief funds to registered recipients. Recipients receive a text message with a relief token in their mobile phones or use the assigned QR code cards. They use their digital token to connect with the participating local vendors’ Rahat app and buy items or cash out money. The vendor then uses the Rahat app to receive cash through bank transfers. The aid agencies can monitor all transactional information in real-time through their Rahat dashboard.

Figure: Rahat Ecosystem

Rahat’s Agency Application

The Agency app keeps track and provides real-time information of the entire aid distribution process. It provides detailed information related to the projects, beneficiaries, used and available tokens, and the fund redeemed by the vendor. There are two actors involved in the aid agency, i.e.- The Admin and the Project Manager. The Admin of the project can add, view, update and modify the projects and their details. Furthermore, an admin can also add/approve the vendors, beneficiaries, and also social mobilizers’ requests. Unlike the admin, the manager has the least access and authority to add, view, update, and modify the project details and is accountable to those projects assigned to him.

Through the agency app, aid agency can view overall data which includes Token/Budget status, Number of projects, their details, and their status, Number of beneficiaries, their details, and their token status, Vendors their details and token status, Financial Institutions, and their details and Users of Rahat Agency app. From these data available in the Agency app, System users can check on their budget status and project.

Rahat agency app mainly consists of the three apps i.e. Agency app, Vendor app, and the social mobilizer app as per the different actors involved in the aid distribution process.

is the one that is used by the two main actors i.e. the Admin and the Project Manager. They approve the requests from the different actors such as the vendors, beneficiaries, and social mobilizers. They store and keep track of all the activities related to the aid distribution process and also the detailed information related to the user of the app.

The agency app also shows whether the vendor has been onboarded or not. Similarly, it delivers data when the vendor has redeemed the tokens, then it is forwarded to the BFIs.

The agency web app is entirely under the control of the agency itself. They operate their databases to store and track private and detailed information regarding projects, beneficiaries, vendors, and mobilizers. The agency uses blockchain to track all the Aids/Rahat distributed by them in the form of blockchain-based tokens. Furthermore, blockchain only stores the tokens’ transactional data, whereas private information is only accessible to the agency itself.

Figure: Login Page and Rahat Dashboard

After login, the aid agency can view the Rahat dashboard. A dashboard integrates multiple metrics into a single reporting interface, reducing the time and effort required to prepare reports and facilitating information related to the aid/ Rahat distribution by sharing within the organization.It helps in the monitoring and tracking of the aid distribution process. Along with that, it provides real-time data on all actions and also transparency on the details related to the tokens distributed and used by vendors, social mobilizers, and beneficiaries, respectively.

Through the agency app, aid agencies can view overall data in the dashboard which includes Token/Budget status, Number of projects( project details and their status), Number of beneficiaries(beneficiaries details that can be added in bulk or individually, their details, and their token status), Vendors (vendor details and their token status), details of the financial Institutions, their details and Users of Rahat Agency app. From these data available in the Agency app, System users can check on their budget status and project.

The dashboard has several sections, namely projects, beneficiaries, vendors and financial institutions. The aid agency can go to each section and add the details of projects, details of the beneficiaries, details of the vendors and the financial institutions. They can not just add the details but also view, update and modify the projects and the details while keeping track and monitoring the real time data in the online dashboard.

Furthermore, the aid agencies can add, view, update and modify the projects and their details. They can also add/ approve the vendors, beneficiaries, and also the social mobilizer requests, respectively.

is used by the vendor who provides the aid/Rahat to the beneficiaries after receiving the OTP from them. By using this app the vendor obtains the OTP and collects the tokens from the aid agency and then redeems the tokens and then receives the amount equivalent to the tokens. The merchant/vendor needs to register in the Rahat application by filling a form. The vendor also needs to upload one’s picture and the ID that is issued by the government for the verification. The registration needs to be approved by the respective aid agency after which the vendor will be able to view the token balance and recent transactions.

Once the aid agency verifies the vendor, the vendor can unlock the application and get the QR code. The aid agency will then transfer the tokens to the authorized vendors. After that the vendor enters the phone number and the amount of the respective beneficiaries. The beneficiaries will then receive the One Time Password (OTP) that they will transfer to the vendors. As the OTP code is received by the vendor the transaction is verified and the transaction is completed. The vendor can also see the transaction history on his Merchant/Vendor app. After the transactions are completed, the vendor can redeem the tokens in return for the cash.

is primarily used by local residents whom the Rahat system has assigned to communicate with their local communities that are in need of aid. The agency confirms the social mobilizer’s request and then assigns specific projects to them. The social mobilizer can use this app to add budget and issue tokens to beneficiaries on the spot using the OTP. They can also help people in need who do not have access to mobile phones by providing QR codes.

Similarly, the local partners/vendors registered to the Rahat application through the vendor app. To register, one must submit all of their details, such as their name, phone number, email address, citizenship, and so on. After registering in the system, vendors must wait for agency approval before accessing the vendor app. Likewise, the vendor needs to charge the tokens to the beneficiaries; to do so, they must scan the QR code of the beneficiaries or enter the beneficiaries’ phone numbers, and also the amount/tokens, into the system.

The system then sends the OTP to the beneficiary’s phone number, and the beneficiary must provide the OTP to the vendors once they receive it. The vendor enters the OTP into the system via the vendor app, and then receives tokens equal to the amount they have previously charged the beneficiaries.

Information Input in the Rahat Agency Application

Rahat Agency Application is developed by using the technologies such as MongoDB database, HTML/CSS/Javascript with react library UI and programming language, NodeJS server, and Blockchain / Ethereum.

These technologies have made it easier to store and track information of the different actors in the Rahat platform. We can input detailed information about the project, beneficiaries, vendors, social mobilizers, financial institutions, and the tokens and budget of the project.

Rahat’s SMS/IVR/QR Code cards

Rahat uses an SMS/IVR/QR code system to distribute relief tokens to the beneficiaries. SMS, IVR, and QR stand for Short Message System, Interactive Voice Response, and Quick Response codes. As of now, Rahat has used SMS and QR code cards to assign tokens to the beneficiaries but IVR code features are yet to be launched.

To distribute the relief tokens using the Rahat platform, the aid agency assigns blockchain-based tokens to the verified beneficiaries. The authorized merchants/vendors verify the beneficiaries by sending the One Time Password (OTP) code to the beneficiaries’ mobile phone. After receiving the OTP codes, the beneficiaries send the tokens to the authorized merchants/vendors using the SMS/IVR services. The beneficiaries receive these codes from the aid agencies and to redeem these tokens in return for the cash or goods.

Rahat’s Tokens

Rahat uses the standard ERC-20(fungible) and ERC-721(non-fungible) tokens. The “Rahat” tokens are value pegged fungible and non-fungible tokens. The token ecosystem flows from aid agencies to beneficiaries and back to the agencies.

Conclusion

The Rahat platform has four actors to carry out the aid distribution process. The actors are aid agencies, merchant vendors, beneficiaries, and financial institutions.

To distribute the relief, first of all, the aid agencies register their users, create projects, use the dashboard to onboard vendors and assign relief funds to registered recipients. Recipients receive a text message with a relief token in their mobile phones or use the assigned QR code cards. They use their digital token to connect with the participating local vendors’ Rahat app and buy items or cash out money. The vendor then uses the Rahat app to receive cash through bank transfers. The aid agencies can monitor all transactional information in real-time through their Rahat dashboard.

With the use of blockchain technology, aid agencies can now distribute aid to recipients much faster by making the entire process much more secure and hassle-free. By keeping in real-time track of the entire process, aid agencies can ensure transparency to all the stakeholders. Now, the affected ones will not have to wait for days or wait in line to receive a bag of rice.

To learn more about Rahat, visit

You can request a demo of the entire process here.

Here, you can find the use cases of the Rahat platform and learn about the Rahat pilot projects.

Originally published at https://rahat.esatya.io.

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