Uganda on Tuesday launched a two-year project aimed at increasing refugee access to financial services to improve their livelihoods.
Juliet Tumuzoire, head financial services at Financial Services Deepening Uganda, a non-governmental organization said at the end of the two years, they project to have over 200,000 refugees access financial services.
Tumuzoire said the project dubbed “Financial Inclusion for Refugees,” will target five out of the 28 refugee settlements in the country. Uganda has the biggest number of refugees in Africa totaling to 1.4 million refugees, according to UN figures. According to government figures, only 13 percent of the refugees in the country access financial services as opposed to 78 percent of Ugandans.
Anthony Kituuka, executive director of Equity Bank Uganda, said the bank will extend services to the refugee settlements through agency banking. He said at a later stage the refugees would be able to access money through mobile money services. Gerald Menhya, acting commissioner for Refugees in the Office of Prime Minister, said that as the international financing of humanitarian relief reduces, refugees are encouraged to be self-reliant.
Menhya said Ugandan law allows refugees to engage in income generating activities in a bid to improve their livelihood. He urged the financial service providers to extend credit to refugees who are already in business. He said those who are not in business should be given financial literacy so that they can be able to start saving.