Tanzania - A Financial Education Toolkit Designed for Refugees and Host Communities

  • May 22, 2020

  • Dar es Salaam, Tanzania


Tanzania has a long history of hosting refugees fleeing civil strife and ethnic conflict. As of February 2020, the largest camp, Nyarugusu, hosts 136,911 refugees1 that are mainly from Burundi and DRC.

In August 2017, the UNCDF team in Tanzania launched a programme in partnership with UNHCR and international and local NGOs, to deepen the access to finance in the Nyarugusu refugee camp through savings groups, digital and financial literacy interventions, and advocacy. UNCDF placed a major focus on the inclusion of women and youth in the design of all its interventions. A financial literacy toolkit was developed and implemented. Savings groups were leveraged in the programme to deliver the learning programs and offer the much-needed financial services.

At the beginning of the pilot, between 2017 and 2018, UNCDF conducted an assessment research in the Nyarugusu camp with three partners: perip, Arifu, and Fundación Capital, to ascertain the initial financial literacy levels and gather insights on how to develop appropriate financial education content for refugees and their host communities. Based on the findings of the research, the UNCDF team in Tanzania initiated three financial and digital educational projects that now compose the toolkit: a tablet-based app (Jijenge, Kwiyubaka in its Kirundi version), an SMS learning platform (Arifu) and a face-to-face training modules (MicroSave).

Learning by playing with an app

Jijenge is a tablet-based app that builds users’ digital and financial capability through video stories, drag-and-drop quizzes, games, and short cases. The name jijenge means ‘to build oneself’ in Kiswahili. With the support of Fundación Capital, the app developer, Jijenge provides users a simplified way to learn financial literacy about mobile money, saving, budgeting, and making spending decisions.

SMS learning platform

To complement the interactive lessons in Jijenge, UNCDF and Arifu developed a phone-based system for further learning. Arifu is an SMS system with the goal of allowing financial education to achieve scale cost-effectively using interactive SMS messages. Users dial a code using any type of phone – smartphones not required – and receive a reply that allows them to enter the Arifu learning platform. They interact by reading content and replying by SMS to answer questions or move forward in the lessons about savings, savings groups and mobile money.

Face to Face training module

The MicroSave face-to-face training module is designed for trainers wishing to supplement technology-based tools with classroom training. In addition to creating the face-to-face modules, MicroSave led a training of trainers (ToT) workshop for partner NGOs, incentive workers, and any others engaged in providing financial education through the UNCDF Tanzania toolkit.
These three tools were tested, refined, and finalized in late 2018, at the last stages of phase I and early stage of phase II (2018-2019). Throughout phase II, UNCDF and partners adjusted content based on monitoring of usage and feedback from organizations on the ground.

In June 2018, the scope of the programme was expanded from the Nyarugusu camp to the remaining camps, Mtendeli and Nduta, as well as to the host community in the Kigoma region, particularly in agricultural communities. The programme in place today, called the Kigoma Joint Programme, also engages in policy advocacy to create a more enabling environment for the financial inclusion of refugees and rural communities and worked to accelerate linkages to the formal financial sector.

Videos for more learning

Furthermore, several videos were added into the 2019 toolkit to make learning more fun. Working with Peripheral Vision International and Khangarue Media , these videos highlight aspects of rural and refugee life, and were distributed throughout Kigoma and in the refugee camps as part of longer Kiswahili-language films. ‘Savings is Love’, the resulting campaign, is comprised of seven short videos that showcase savings, budget planning and using mobile money. In addition, UNCDF translated and added ‘Noa Ubongo’ to existing tablets. Noa Ubongo is made up of 12 episodes that introduce business and entrepreneurship skills, aiming to reinforce good financial behaviors.

Because of the positive response to learning via video, UNCDF further partnered with Mediae Kenya to add videos about agriculture and is currently producing new episodes. This series, called ‘Shamba Shape Up’, provide practical demonstrations on improved farming practices and approaches.

Training for what

Between 2017 and 2019, more than 22,000 refugees and Tanzanians have had a chance to use Jijenge and Arifu, respectively. During the period, UNCDF has brought stakeholders working in Nyarugusu together for workshops, facilitated a number of ToTs. The most recent ToT was held on 5 March 2020 in Kibondo, a town in the Kigoma region, to train two new partners (Kigoma Youth Agricultural Development Organization and Ministry of Agriculture Training Institute) on the latest financial and digital literacy package and to create a work plan on following financial education activities.

In the latest 2020 package, new financial education materials branded as ‘Lenga’- a comic book and podcast series – whose name represents ‘goal’ in Swahili, were added into the toolkit and tested in the Kigoma region in early March. These are under development with Khangarue Media.

What changed with the toolkit

Overall, in the past three years, the financial and digital toolkit has progressed from an initial assessments and contents adaptation, to material productions, training of trainers, product roll-out and implementation, and monitoring and evaluation.

Recurring evaluations on the impact of the toolkit have shown positive differences between those receiving and not receiving financial education: more use of mobile money, higher ability to identify a trustworthy mobile money agent, greater safety awareness, more participation in household decision making, higher perception on financial security, among other outcomes.

As part of the Kigoma Joint Programme, UNCDF Tanzania is partnering with local governments, NGOs and private sector, including financial service providers, to contribute to a more enabling environment for financial inclusion and self-reliance among refugees and host communities, accounting for the informal practices that are locally embedded.

1 UNHCR. (2020, Feb 29). Tanzania Refugee Population Update.