DeFi Community Strives to Raise Aid for Quake Victims
DAO Defers to Charity Amid Race to Get Food, Water, and Shelter to Victims
By: Samuel Haig •Dive
In an effort to get aid to the victims in the 7.5 earthquake that struck southern Turkey and northern Syria on Monday, anonymous members of Turkey’s crypto community formed a DAO and a website to rally support.
Yet a paltry sum has been raised so far — 2 ETH. And with harsh weather, terrain, and political risks in the region, longstanding non-government organizations such as the International Red Cross are struggling to get food, water, medicine, and emergency shelters in place.
Even so, the push to utilize cryptocurrency technology to assist in a disaster that has claimed 16,000 lives marks an important moment in the evolution of the industry. Just as it did with the outbreak of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February, DAOs are rapidly forming to leapfrog traditional barriers to providing help to victims. Gauging their efficacy remains an open question.
The Turkiye Earthquake Relief DAO launched a Twitter account on Monday with the endorsement of several prominent figures in the crypto industry, including Solana, Mina Protocol’s Emre Tekisap, and the Ethereum Foundation’s Kaan Uzdogan.
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Uzdogan, a software researcher, told The Defiant the team remains anonymous because Turkish law prohibits the unlicensed collection of donations, and does not recognize crypto assets as a medium of exchange.
“These people were taking personal risks at the time when there were no officially allowed campaigns, therefore they didn’t dox themselves,” Uzdogan said.
He added that the DAO ceased collecting donations directly after Haluk Levent, the founder of the reputable non-profit organization Ahpab, received official licensing to collect donations in the form of crypto assets.
“[Turkiye] took down their public addresses and forwarded funds to public campaigns,” Uzdogan said.
Uzdogan also showed The Defiant on-chain data showing that Turkiye forwarded its ETH holdings to other charities. Turkiye is still awaiting approval from a final multi-sig signer before donating all its remaining assets to an earthquake relief campaign overseen by Paribu, a Turkish crypto exchange.
On Tuesday, Binance, the leading centralized exchange, announced it will airdrop $100 worth of BNB to each of its users in the Turkish earthquake regions. The exchange expects to donate about $5M in total.
Binance Charity also launched a public donation address to support local relief efforts. Donated funds will be converted to Turkish Lira and donated to an authorized non-government organization (NGO).
“The recent earthquakes in Turkey have had a devastating impact on so many people and communities,” said Changpeng Zhou, the CEO of Binance. “We are also calling on our industry peers to once again come together to offer support in these times of crisis.”
Last year, UkraineDAO, a DAO dedicated to organizing relief supporting Ukraine’s defense against the Russian invasion, showcased the power of using web3 technologies and decentralized organization for disaster relief.
The DAO launched shortly after the war began in February 2022, and has since raised millions in donations for the local NGO, Come Back Alive, organized a fleet of 30 trucks distributing aid into war-torn regions of the country, and been endorsed by Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation.