Children’s non-profit and U.N. organization, UNICEF, recently initiated talks with the Kyrgyzstan government in hopes of utilizing blockchain technology to provide Internet access to over 1,500 schools across the country. In a chat with CoinDesk, Deputy Representative of UNICEF Kyrgyzstan, Munir Mammadzade, highlighted, “We are at the early stages of exploring a blockchain-based solution for the Project Connect initiative in Kyrgyzstan where the government is working with UNICEF and the private sector to connect every school in the country to the Internet and provide access to information and opportunity to all young people.”
Specifically, Project Connect, is an initiative to that aims to map every school in the world, with the ultimate goal of providing real-time data to assess school Internet connectivity quality and an observable metric of society’s progress towards authorizing access to not only opportunity, but information. Project Connect notes two fundamental reasons for why they’re mapping schools;
- Some national governments are unaware of where all schools in their country are located, leading to inability to provide adequate resources and services, and
- A large percent of national governments and NGOs are intent on connecting schools to the Internet, however, that capability is still very much an ideal (and unfortunately, not yet implemented on a large scale).
As of date of publish, Project Connect has already successfully mapped Internet connectivity quality and levels for over 150,000 schools across the world – over 1,500 of the mapped schools are located in Kyrgyzstan, with at least 50% having no data or Internet connectivity.
Potential Solutions: Utopixar & W3Engineers
UNICEF has alluded to several blockchain projects and tools which could ultimately bring their plans into fruition, noting that two blockchain startups that had recently received USD $100,000 from the UNICEF Innovation Fund in end of 2018; Utopixar and W3Engineers.
Utopixar is a Tunisian blockchain startup and platform which sanctions communities to issue, distribute, an exchange their own impact tokens, which can ultimately be gifted to individuals and entities to address various challenges in one’s community (Ex. Internet connectivity). Such tokens can later be exchanged for currencies or discount vouchers.
W3Engineers is a Bangladesh-based consulting firm for businesses looking to adopt, integrate, and realize blockchain and adjacent technologies, such as hyperledgers, smart contracts, wallets, private blockchains, and supply chain blockchains. W3Engineer’s website states, “With a Mesh enabled blockchain-based messaging application, refugees will no longer have to make the choice between connecting with loved ones and feeding their families.”
This isn’t UNICEF’s first blockchain rodeo either. In 2018, they created a charitable donations website for mining cryptocurrencies to support and aid vulnerable children across the globe – which has seen the likes of roughly 28,000 donors contribute during its tenure.
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