The origins and rationale for the UnBlocked Cash pilot project in Papua New Guinea.

By Shreeju Shrestha, Oxfam Global Humanitarian Team

Matehau community was heavily affected by the 2020 flooding and landslides. Credit: Oxfam in PNG

Heavy rain in early April 2020 caused floods and landslides in several highland provinces in the remote center of Papua New Guinea (PNG), including the Eastern Highland Province. About 700 people were directly affected by these floods, which damaged and destroyed their houses and gardens. As an immediate response to this, Oxfam in PNG rolled out its support by distributing in-kind assistance — non-food items such as jerry cans, tarpaulins, hygiene items and kitchen sets to the affected people. Because of the remoteness of the affected communities, access is difficult and limited and…

UnBlocked Cash team at registration in Santo, Vanuatu. (Credits: Oxfam in Vanuatu/Arlene Bax)
UnBlocked Cash team at registration in Santo, Vanuatu. (Credits: Oxfam in Vanuatu/Arlene Bax)
UnBlocked Cash team at registration in Santo, Vanuatu. (Credits: Oxfam in Vanuatu/Arlene Bax)

A year after its groundbreaking pilot, Oxfam in Vanuatu, together with 17 local and international partners, is scaling its blockchain-based UnBlocked Cash project to distribute cash and voucher assistance to over 35,000 beneficiaries affected by the Category 5 Cyclone Harold and COVID-19. The registration of beneficiaries has been inaugurated on Wednesday in Vanuatu by the High Commissioners of Australia and New Zealand, as both governments are the main donors to the program.

UnBlocked Cash is now serving as a single payment platform to unite partners in the harmonized delivery of cash assistance, enhancing coordination, collective capacity, and ensuring more value…

The Oxfam-led response program to Covid-19 and TC Harold in Vanuatu has passed a 6-month milestone. We’re looking back at the last half a year to see what was accomplished and what lessons can be learned to scale digital cash assistance.

The data as of April 20, 2021. Oxfam in Vanuatu

IMPACT — Reviewing the program outcomes

The successive impacts of COVID-19 and TC Harold have resulted in a significant reduction in income and livelihoods across Vanuatu. In order to address these growing needs, Oxfam is deploying a large-scale cash intervention, adopting a consortium-style approach. The program is covering the most vulnerable households in Sanma, Tafea, and Shefa Province. Local partners have been conducting monthly Post-Distribution Monitoring (PDM) in order to improve the way assistance is designed and delivered. We present and discuss these results below.

The humanitarian response in Vanuatu continues and has expanded to a third national province, Shefa. The additional funding from donors will extend the digital cash assistance program through August 2021.

The UnBlocked Cash project continues to scale as the response in Vanuatu extends to a third and last province targeted by this response program, with close to 800 new beneficiaries and 70 new vendors registered in Shefa in February. This brings the number of participating households to 4071, which means that the total population reached is 20,335 people (the average household size is 5 persons). The total value of cash distributed surpassed 145M Vatu (or ca. 1,33M USD) with the spending level at the same 86% level as in previous months. Spending patterns remain the same, with a slight increase…

Oxfam in Vanuatu uses blockchain technology to mitigate the risks of gender-based violence and strengthen women’s economic empowerment

By: Maja Tønning, Humanitarian Consultant

A vendor makes a transaction with a beneficiary using her e-voucher card at the food market. © Arlene Bax/OV.

A new case study designed for the Grand Bargain Gender and Cash Sub-Workstream highlights Oxfam’s UnBlocked Cash project as an example of how to successfully integrate gender equality and gender-based violence risk mitigation in Cash and Voucher Assistance.

Up to 60% of women in Vanuatu have reported being survivors of intimate partner physical and/or sexual violence. The prevalence of violence against women serves as an indicator of women’s status in society and traditional gender roles, which impacts all levels of society including women’s safe access to income, financial inclusion, and role in household decision-making.


The humanitarian response program in the Pacific nation of Vanuatu entered its 4th month of implementation. Here are the latest monitoring results for January 2021.

Photo: Arlene Bax / Oxfam in Vanuatu

In January 2021 the response program did not carry any new registrations and thus continued providing assistance to the 3,211 already registered beneficiaries and vendors (you can find the numbers for Dec 2020 here). Therefore much of the numbers in January are the same as in December — the demographics of beneficiaries and types of vendors participating in the program did not change from December.

The major change has been seen in the volume of transactions as beneficiaries continued to receive cash assistance disbursed directly onto their e-voucher cards through the UnBlocked Cash online dashboard.

We look at the numbers summarizing the UnBlocked Cash response in Vanuatu at the end of 2020

Oxfam and partners registering beneficiaries in Tanna, Tafea province. Photo: Oxfam in Vanuatu

Since October 2020 the Oxfam-led consortium of partners has been implementing the cash and voucher-based response program across the country’s two most populated provinces: Sanma (Santo and Malo islands) and Tafea (Tanna island).

Oxfam’s UnBlocked Cash has been selected the winner of the 2020 World Summit Awards in the Inclusion & Empowerment category.

Beneficiaries can pay with these e-voucher cards at the network of vendors participating in the program. Photo: Arlene Bax / Oxfam in Vanuatu

The World Summit Awards are promoting the projects that utilize technology with smart content to hack the worldwide gaps defined by the UN SDGs. The Oxfam-led project has been recognised from among +350 nominated projects as the technological solution with high social impact on promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all (SDG 8) and reducing inequalities (SDG 10).

The UnBlocked Cash is a blockchain payment solution that features community-inclusive product iteration, decentralized finance, and blended service delivery across tech, civil society, and the humanitarian sector.

Oxfam has first piloted the project…

Oxfam in Vanuatu leads the UnBlocked Cash first live implementation and presents statistics for the first calendar months of the program (10-11/2020)

Bombarded with the severity of the Tropical Cyclone Harold and COVID-19 restrictions in Vanuatu since March until today has resulted in a significant reduction in income and livelihoods across Vanuatu, particularly amongst households with pre-existing vulnerabilities. In order to address the needs of our people Oxfam in Vanuatu is now deploying a cutting-edge innovation to meet the needs of nearly 6,000 families across the country.

The UnBlocked Cash (UBC) project, a blockchain-powered cash transfer solution piloted in 2019, is now going to full scale for humanitarian response, emergency recovery, here in Vanuatu. The project involves the use of an automated…

UnBlocked Cash by Oxfam

Modernizing humanitarian aid with the blockchain-based solution for Cash & Voucher Assistance programs. Led by Oxfam in the Pacific.

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