Financial inclusion in Côte d'Ivoire

Voluntary repatriation (returning home)

Financial inclusion in Côte d'Ivoire

Contact details

Submitted by: Alpha Diallo, Admin/Finance Officer, UNHCR Cote d’Ivoire Innovation fellow

Email: [email protected]        


Article about the project launch available on (in French only).

Introduction to the project 


Cote d’Ivoire


October 2018 – Dec 2019

Project aims

  • To allow returning refugees (or Protection staff depending on household dynamics and protection risks) to choose their preferred modality of receiving the assistance – e.g. cash in an envelope or through mobile money, to the head of household or different household members, as a lump sum or several payments, at the transit centre or upon return.
  • To serve as a single remittance mechanism for return assistance from multiple stakeholders (WFP: monetized food, UNICEF: monetized school kits, etc.)

Resources used

Connectivity for refugees Innovation fund complemented by UNHCR CIV OPS and ABOD resources


  • UNHCR Cote d’Ivoire
  • UNHCR Liberia
  • UNHCR Guinea
  • UNHCR Ghana
  • DAARA – main government partner
  • WFP – UN agency
  • MTN – telecommunication and mobile money company
  • ARTCI – telecommunications regulatory body

How challenges were overcome 

The main challenges were as follows:

  • The lack of documentation (a regulatory requirement) is a major hindrance to receiving a SIM card.
  • A very bureaucratic internal systems (LAS, Procurement, etc.) that is resistant to change.
  • Relatively low organizational capacity with regards to Cash-Based Interventions.

These challenges were addressed with leadership, a facilitative protection environment, and advocacy with the national identification body. Some challenges are still being overcome.

Results of the Good Practice

  • More choice and less risk for returnees, resulting in a sense of security and dignity enhanced during voluntary repatriation
  • Bringing in non-traditional private partners -> partnership base expanded to telecommunications companies
  • Revisiting the UNHCR mind-set to perceive commercial stakeholders as partners, not just vendors
  • Saving resources: by spending less on contracts (common procurement) or by advocating that telecommunications companies waive fees (for all or a part of the caseload – appeal to corporate social responsibility)