Digital Financial Services in the Uganda Refugee Response - December 2021



Under the Uganda Refugee Response Plan (RRP) 2018-2021, both international partners and local government place a strong emphasis on shifting the response paradigm “from care and maintenance to inclusion and self-reliance.” In pursuit of this, cash-based interventions are marked as a priority modality with partners committing to encourage the transition from in-kind assistance to cashbased assistance where possible.

Financial Service Providers (FSPs) play an important role in the implementation of most cash and voucher-based assistance (CVA) by facilitating the transfer of payments. Cash can be delivered in-person at the FSP location or a designated distribution site, or delivered electronically through banking or mobile money services. The choice of FSP and delivery mechanism are central to the success of any CVA programme. Considerations such as beneficiary preferences, inclusion of all vulnerable target groups, feasibility, cost, and speed of delivery should be streamlined along with the specific programmes' objectives to inform this decision. Two assessments can therefore provide partners in the refugee response with the information needed to design a successful CVA programme. The first looks at the FSP landscape and supported delivery mechanisms while the second aims to understand user experiences and preferences with humanitarian financial assistance mechanisms and commercial financial services.

While previous FSP assessments undertaken by partners in Uganda were often conducted internally, focusing on one specific location or the feasibility of one particular delivery mechanism, this assessment takes a more comprehensive approach. USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) funded REACH to conduct an assessment of FSPs in Uganda, and further contributed to the U-Learn assessment on user experiences and preferences around digital financial mechanisms. Both assessments aimed to bridge information gaps expressed by the partners in the Uganda Cash Working Group (CWG). The qualitative and quantitative data collected during both assessments aims to provide partners with a comprehensive overview of the capacity and experience of FSPs, updated information on beneficiary preferences surrounding FSPs and delivery mechanisms, as well as the risks, challenges, and potential barriers to inclusion associated with each. Please see page 4 for more details on the methodology.