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Reaching the last mile: Introducing Digital Payments for Refugees in Meheba, Zambia

This case study focuses on the journey to design and implement a project to digitize cash-based interventions (CBI) by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) in the Meheba refugee settlement of Zambia. The case study captures the entire journey to digitize CBI payments and offers critical insights about introducing a new payment method. The pilot for two digital payments was successfully completed in August 2018 with 100% of the payments digitized. Collaboration on this project by multiple stakeholders, including from the private sector, the Government and UNHCR, highlights the importance of flexibility in planning as well as of allocation of roles and responsibilities, with clear accountability for each stakeholder. The case study shares key lessons learned and concrete actionable next steps for UNHCR to take to digitize CBI payments in all refugee settlements of Zambia.

The UN Capital Development Fund makes public and private finance work for the poor in the world’s 47 least developed countries (LDCs). With its capital mandate and instruments, UNCDF offers “last mile” finance models that unlock public and private resources, especially at the domestic level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development.

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