Combating Refugee Hunger via Inclusive Finance

> Posted by Center Staff

This week the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and MasterCard forged a new partnership to develop inclusive financial systems to support small-scale farmers and lower-income families. The team’s first effort focuses on the Kakuma refugee camp in north-western Kenya, a settlement home to roughly 170,000 refugees who have fled wars and violence in neighboring countries.

The partnership seeks to harness the duo’s respective strengths: FAO in fighting hunger and malnutrition among the most vulnerable and hardest-to-reach, and MasterCard in expanding financial inclusion through digital services. Their initiatives will center on, among other elements, providing credit and cash to households in economically-marginalized communities for the purchase of basic needs and farming inputs.

In the case of Kakuma, the partnership will target the charcoal business chain. Over 1,200 households in Kakuma’s host-community will be provided with improved charcoal making kilns that produce fuel in a sustainable, environmentally-friendly way. In turn, 7,000 refugee households will receive energy efficient stoves, as well as prepaid cards and credit to purchase 25 percent of their annual charcoal needs. The project aims to improve quality of life for refugees, raise incomes of the host-community residents, and reduce social tensions between the residents and the refugees.

Kakuma has hosted the camp since 1992, supporting refugees from more than 10 countries, including South Sudan, Somalia, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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