Published Friday , on 26 October 2018, 11:00:00 by Christophe Hitayezu

Equity Bank has led a three week registration and activation exercise targeting 20,000 Burundian head of households in the youngest but densely populated camp.

Rwanda 25th October 2018: For the first time, over 57,000 refugees from Burundi residing at the Mahama camp in Kirehe district will now have access to cash transfers from WFP/UNHCR via an Equity Bank card, following a successful registration exercise at the camp.

The initiative, which is part of United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) aims at delivering cash transfers, through a monthly stipend of RwF 7,500 to each household in the camp, with an aim of improving food and nutrition security among food insecure households.

The just concluded three week registration and activation exercise rolled out by Equity Bank, targeted close to 20,000 head of household Burundian refugees residing at the camp. Mahama becomes the last refugee camp in Rwanda to have cash based transfers rolled out and for the first time, beneficiaries will be receiving the humanitarian aid in form of cash.

During a visit to Mahama Camp to witness the on boarding process, Equity Bank Managing Director Mr. Hannington Namara said the Bank has already put in place convenient means of availing the allocated funds to the registered beneficiaries.

“We are pleased to have successfully rolled out the registration process and look forward to disbursing the first cash allocation to the registered residents. Already, we have put in place an agency network with close to 20 Equity Bank Agents in Mahama camp, to facilitate withdrawal of the cash payments,” said Mr. Namara.

Upon registration, the beneficiaries received an Equity Bank card, which uses biometric authentication to enable them access the cash allocations once disbursed. The card will be used to withdraw cash from the Equity Agents in Mahama camp.

“The Equity Bank card we have issued to the head of household will enable them access money at the camps through our Equity Agents, withdraw from an ATM and shop at merchant locations. The card is secure because it uses the pin or biometric authentication methods,” added Mr. Namara.

Equity Bank has over the last three years registered and disbursed to over 14,500 households in Gihembe, Nyabiheke, Kigeme, Kiziba and Mugombwa camps in Rwanda. Mahama Camp, which remains the largest refugee camp with a population of 57,000 refugees, is the youngest camp in Rwanda and the sixth to roll out WFP/UNHCR funds via the Equity Bank card.

First implemented in 2015 in Gihembe camp, the programme is targeted at distributing humanitarian aid to households in refugee camps to deepen financial inclusion through movement of people from food aid, to more sustainable forms of socio-economic development. So far the WFP/UNHCR-Equity Bank programme has disbursed over RwF 10bn in the five camps, over the last three years.

Also present at the event, Equity Group’s Special Projects Director Mr. Allan Waititu reiterated the Bank’s commitment towards financial inclusion of displaced persons, citing the role of financial institutions in promoting their economic wellbeing.

Said Mr. Waititu: “Our vision is to see more refugee families become more self-reliant and productive members of the society, with the ability to contribute to economic development. We have been successful in implementing this programme in other camps in Rwanda and will use our experience as a stepping stone to successfully roll out WFP/UNHCR funds to the already 20,000 registered head of household in Mahama camp. In addition, we are rolling out a similar programme in refugee camps across Kenya and Uganda.”