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Can biometrics put a dent in humanitarian aid theft? Nothing else has

Categories Access Control  |  Biometrics News  |  ID for All
Can biometrics put a dent in humanitarian aid theft? Nothing else has

A pattern for international food aid has been set. Biometric checks that to date have been marketed as a nice-to-have or even prestige achievement in the field are being mandated.

Reportedly historic levels of food theft occurring right now in Ethiopia have so outraged United Nations and the United States aid officials that, according to Associated Press reporting, the officials want to force the use of scans before they hand out another grain.

Biometric systems were deployed several years ago in Yemen to make food distribution more efficient, where civil war caused or complicated famine. Ethiopia is much the same.

The U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.N.’s World Food Program are investigating aid thefts that officials say has reached systematic and historic levels.

Some food aid in Ethiopia was stopped in March after it became clear that massive thefts were occurring, reportedly with the active help of the national government.

Faced with an apparently unstoppable siphoning of critical food aid, the U.N. and U.S. have temporarily cut off aid to the whole of the country, affecting 20 million people, according to the AP.

Of course, this is happening as privacy advocates in Africa and elsewhere are raising an alarm about deploying biometrics without adequate safeguards in place. Organizations have not always been able to balance transparency, performance and privacy.

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