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St. Vincent De Paul Disaster Services launches U.S. platform for disaster relief disbursements

December 7, 2022 
By Algorand


St. Vincent de Paul Disaster Services, a leading U.S. aid organization that helps people in situational poverty brought about by natural and man-made disasters, today announced the launch of the Kokua survivor wallet in partnership with AID:Tech, a provider of Web3 Onchain Reputation & Rewards infrastructure, and The Algorand Foundation.

Kokua – which leverages the open, public Algorand blockchain – is a disbursement platform that simplifies the connection of natural disaster survivors to the relief that will aid their recovery. Survivors are able to validate their identity, receive digital aid funding via Algorand’s blockchain, and redeem them for critical items like furniture and other household goods, with orders fulfilled by Amazon – all within the Kokua survivor wallet.

The initial launch of Kokua will serve 100 Tennessee families who were affected by the deadly 2021 winter tornados. Survivors, identified by St. Vincent de Paul Disaster Services and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, will receive relief funded by the American Red Cross. Traditional aid distribution is fraught with lengthy identification and verification processes that impedes survivors from stabilizing quickly. Kokua bypasses logistical blockades that are the status quo by connecting to those in need directly via mobile app.

To launch Kokua, St. Vincent de Paul chose to partner with best-in-class technology providers. By leveraging the Algorand blockchain, which is carbon-negative, permissionless, and efficient – capable of processing 6,000 transactions per second with full finality – aid recipients can be sure their redemption transactions are secure, confirmed, and doing no harm to the environment. The novel identity process developed by AID:Tech enables survivors to verify who they are via decentralized identifiers (DIDs). Which are designed to be implemented without the control or inefficiencies of a centralized registry, identity provider, or certificate authority.

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“As natural disasters continue to grow in intensity and frequency, blockchain technology is a practical solution to keeping up with the increasing need for aid,” said Elizabeth Disco-Shearer, CEO of St. Vincent de Paul Disaster Services. “Through Kokua, aid will reach the people who need it most with greater speed, enable more autonomy for disaster victims, and bring greater accountability to the aid space more broadly.”

Taken together, the technology and partners behind Kokua will bring efficiency and transparency to critical disaster relief processes like never before, and serve as a new model for how aid distribution can work in the digital age.

“Oftentimes it is not aggregating resources that impedes disaster relief, it is the distribution,” said Matt Keller, director of impact and inclusion at the Algorand Foundation. “This Algorand-backed survivor wallet uniquely leverages blockchain technology to ensure aid is securely and efficiently distributed to those who need it with unprecedented transparency, as all distributions are publicly traceable on chain.”

“Using Algorand blockchain, we are giving control back to survivors by allowing them to own, control and manage their digital identity,” added Joseph Thompson, CEO of AID:Tech. “Once survivors are verified using our proprietary method, they can use Kokua seamlessly without the hassle of proving their identity to multiple entities.”

Kokua will be accessible to those receiving aid relief on both iOS and Android devices.


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