Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Country: Uganda

1.1 Background

Financial Inclusion is one of UNHCR Uganda’s key operational priorities under its protection and
solutions strategy. Financial inclusion contributes to promoting self-reliance among refugees as
well as stimulating economic activity at local level. In Uganda, the ongoing strategy to scale-up
cash transfers and deliver assistance in a dignified and accountable manner coupled with the vision
of promoting economic inclusion of refugees and host communities implies that financial inclusion
is a country office priority.
One method of achieving financial inclusion for refugees is by ensuring that refugees own bank
accounts which will not only promote the growth of cash transfers but also contribute to selfreliance and local economic activity by opening up channels for cash flows.

In 2019, UNHCR Uganda plans to open bank accounts for 154,358 refugee households in seven
settlements. These are Oruchinga, Imvepi, Palabek, Bidibidi , Palorinya , Rhino camp and

The first phase of this initiative was implemented in Oruchinga refugee settlement where all
households living in the settlement were assisted to open bank accounts using Equity Bank. Equity
Bank uses the agent banking model a banking solution that was introduced by the government of
Uganda to promote financial inclusion and improve access to banking services in areas with poor
banking infrastructure particularly in rural areas. Given that the majority of refugee settlements are
located in rural areas with no banking infrastructure, the introduction of agent banking was timely
as a solution that can be utilised to extend banking services closer to refugees and hence facilitate
their financial inclusion.

In addition, assisting refugees to open bank accounts will enable UNHCR expand multipurpose
cash transfers to refugees to meet basic needs e.g. in shelter, education, hygiene, energy.
The detailed number of households targeted for this initiative is presented in the map below;

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