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The Role of Financial Services in Humanitarian Crises

2017 — By Mayada El-Zoghbi, Nadine Chehade, Peter McConaghy, Matthew Soursourian

More than 75 percent of adults who live in countries that are coping with humanitarian crises remain outside the formal financial system. Financial inclusion would provide both refugees and residents with a diversified set of financial products (including savings, remittances, credit, and insurance) that are critical for vulnerable communities as they try to mitigate shocks, build up assets, and promote local economic development.

This timely paper—a collaboration between the World Bank’s Middle East Finance and Markets team and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor—provides an important framework for understanding the role of financial services during periods of humanitarian crisis. It offers specific guidance to development partners, governments, and financial market actors by outlining operational lessons for financial-sector interventions. By doing so, the authors have made a significant contribution that will help advance the global policy discussion and encourage further research into the role of financial services in building sustainable livelihoods for people in crisis.

The proposals outlined in this paper—which was funded by the State and Peace-Building Fund within the World Bank Group—directly support our broader objective of promoting diversified, efficient, and inclusive financial systems at the global and country levels