Innovation at WFP: A safe space combined with scale

Enrica Porcari, director of technology at the World Food Programme. Photo by: ©FAO/Giuseppe Carotenuto

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. — When refugees at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan check out of the supermarket, they do not pay for groceries with cash or credit card, but instead use a service called “Building Blocks.”

“The world is moving too fast for us to be steadfastly bolted into our comfort zones.”

— Enrica Porcari, director of technology, WFP

They walk up to an iris scanner at the checkout counter, which confirms their identity on a United Nations database and settles the bill, after it checks that money is available on their account from the World Food Programme, the food assistance branch of the U.N.

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    Catherine Cheney

    Catherine Cheney is a Senior Reporter for Devex. She covers the West Coast of the U.S., focusing on the role of technology and innovation in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. And she frequently represents Devex as a speaker and moderator. Prior to joining Devex, Catherine earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Yale University, worked as a web producer for POLITICO and reporter for World Politics Review, and helped to launch NationSwell. Catherine has reported from all over the world, and freelanced for outlets including the Atlantic and the Washington Post. She is also the West Coast ambassador for the Solutions Journalism Network, a nonprofit that trains and connects journalists to cover responses to problems.