Blockchain for early childhood development: iO2’s pilot blockchain project in Brazil

Overview of the early childhood program in Boa Vista, Brazil

The Brazilian government is implementing a nation-wide early child development program to conduct weekly home visits to vulnerable children and their families in order to identify risks and opportunities for child development. In the city of Boa Vista, the program is named Survive and Thrive Boa Vista Early Childhood Program (the “STBV”) and aims to tackle the continued high rates of neonatal mortality and the large disparities in early childhood development. Targeting children between 0 and 3 years old living in deprived and low-income families who have already participated in income transfer programs such as bolsa familia, the Boa Vista Municipality Government expects the STBV can eventually eliminate neonatal mortality in the city, and in longer term education inequality.

iO2 Team was visiting social welfare center in in Boa Vista, Brazil.

Why deploy blockchain to early childhood development (ECD)?

Neonatal mortality issue in Brazil

In Brazil, more than 25,000 newborns die each year within the first 28 days of their life, with a majority of deaths occurring in the first week. In Boa Vista, Infant mortality rate is estimated at 14.2 per 1000 live births, with 21% of births given by teenage mothers and 15% of infants born preterm.

Neonatal deaths could be prevented each year by low-cost interventions. Studies suggest that one of the most effective methods are home visiting programs, which support mothers in the first weeks of infant’s lives, promote breastfeeding and kangaroo mother care, and ensure appropriate medical care when needed.

Delayed registration of ECD in Brazil

However, household members in Brazil have to travel far to visit centres for social welfare and queue up for program registration. On top of this, there are other issues, such as limited access to data infrastructure, slow and low quality data collected by the government, stop mothers-to-be signing up ECD services. As a result, the Birth Registry in Boa Vista updates every 60 days, leaving unregistered newborns without ECD services, increasing risk of neonatal mortality.

Family members fear their data being collected

What is more, many households are reluctant to sign up the ECD program because of distrust. One supervisor mentioned that many households still believe the purpose of home visit program is to monitor whether households meet the requirements for bolsa familia, which is a family grant scheme launched by the Brazilian government giving a monthly cash handout of $22 to the country’s poorest households on the condition that children go to school and get regular health check-ups. Therefore, a lot of households refuse to join the program even they are targeted, fearing to lose their basic social protection.

Blockchain technologies: the solution

The above time-consuming procedures and bureaucratic problems significantly reduce the access to ECD in Brazil. Good news is this situation can be improved by blockchain technologies. iO2 Team works with the Ministry of Social Development(Brazil), the Boa Vista Municipality Government and Cia Bola de Meia, a well-known Brazilian non-profit organisation, in conjunction with the STBV to co-create blockchain solutions to:

  • Decrease time for newborns to receiving early childhood program services within the first 7 days of life — 5000 eligible newborns annually;
  • Identify and communicate problems on the ground as they unfold;
  • Enhance program participation by protecting identity and data sovereignty;
  • Incentivize beneficiaries to share quality data by rewarding crypto assets in exchange of data contribution.
Supervisor from early childhood program was explaining the program details to iO2 Team.

How does blockchain work in early childhood program

Lower barrier to program access with Decentralized Identifications

We begin by developing decentralized identifications (DIDs) into the early childhood program. DIDs are based on the participation in social, political, economic and cultural life, and is recognized not only by who the person is, but more importantly, what the person has, knows and does. By employing DID, household members can register to programs nearly anytime and anywhere on their mobile devices without having to go through time consuming, centralized, in-person registration procedures.

To empower vulnerable communities to take control of their identity and data they produce and own, we adopt ID4D protocols, an initiative to modernize national identification systems by enabling access to services and rights for all people through digital identification. This is more important to grassroots communities, especially for those without a political identity to be treated fairly for who they are, what they do, what they know, and what they possess.

Rapid data validation with decentralized applications

Stakeholders can use frontline decentralized applications (DApps) to participate in collecting, creating, measuring, and ultimately cross-validating program data in near real-time. The decentralized nature of DApps ensure that the data contributed by home visitors, supervisors and different family members are validated and immutable, making more responsive child development interventions possible at all levels.

iO2 Team was explaining the features of the decentralized applications to local people.

Rewarding crypto assets to households for data contribution

Despite government’s ongoing effort to promote the long term impact of early childhood program, very often individuals and households living in destitution desire to see immediate and tangible benefits. Instead of staying at home and participating in the program which impact can only be seen in decades, very poor household members may prefer spend more time on informal jobs to earn low but immediate economic benefits. Such phenomenon significantly prevents the very poor from participating in early childhood program, contributing to the exacerbation of education inequality.

Rewarding crypto assets to household who contribute data about early childhood program creates a new “job opportunity” and ”local economy” among municipality, programs and citizens based on digital assets. Such Digital Asset Economics incentivizes the very deprived households to participate in the early childhood program. The Mayor of Boa Vista proposes that crypto assets can be further transacted for locally grown and produced goods and services, which brings more social and economic benefits to participating households and the wider local economy.

About Impact Oxygen Foundation (iO2)

Impact Oxygen Foundation, iO2, is a decentralized autonomous organization for crowd-enhanced impact investment on the blockchain, underpinned by iO2 Token which incentivizes the communities to provide trusted data for impact measurement. Since 2015, the iO2 team has successfully developed and executed over a dozen social impact projects in China via its service platform named “ShanZhai City” (shanzhaicity.com), and now are engaging blockchain-based projects in Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and Brazil.

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Empowering the Bottom Billion with Data Technology. Website: https://www.shanzhai.city/

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Shanzhai City

Shanzhai City

Empowering the Bottom Billion with Data Technology. Website: https://www.shanzhai.city/

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