UN turns to direct money transfers to pay refugees


The UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) has started direct money transfers to refugees, a move the agency says is cost-effective and secure.
In a pilot that was successfully done in Bidi Bidi Settlement Camp, the biggest area accommodating South Sudanese in West Nile, at least 15,000 refugees were paid monthly stipends using mobile money.
Beneficiaries received eight instalments of $38 (Shs136,800) per month.
“Physical cash is expensive. You have to pay a bullion van and [security]. Compare that to a click of a button,” Ms Delia Dean Adam, the UNCDF value chain and digital finance consultant, said.
She said making refugees line up for cash, is not “dignified” as majority are children and elderly.
Uganda is home to about a million refugees from South Sudan, DR Congo and Rwanda, among others.
To digitalise money transfers, UNCDF in 2017 partnered with DanChurchAid and Airtel, which built 13 masts in settlement camps to enable connectivity.
Ms Karin Elisabeth Lind, the DanChurchAid country director, said digitalising payments will go a long way to help refugees save and reduce the risk of moving around with billions of cash.