The Role of Financial Services in Humanitarian Crises

Guidance and operational lessons on financial sector interventions for people in crisis

Humanitarian crises pose a formidable development challenge. While the nature and incidences of these crises vary significantly, they affect millions of people, particularly the most vulnerable. Financial inclusion is one potentially foundational opportunity to support people affected by crises. Financial inclusion allows low-income households to build assets; mitigate shocks related to emergencies, illness, or injury; and make productive investments. Increased use of emergency cash transfers and digital mechanisms to address immediate vulnerability may offer an opportunity to enable financial inclusion. 

This paper 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 directly support the broader objective of promoting diversified, efficient, and inclusive financial systems at the global and country levels. Continued collaboration across sectors, institutions, and borders is the only way that the global development community will be able to address the immense challenge of forced displacement in a sustainable manner.

About this Publication

By El-Zoghbi, M., Chehade, N., McConaghy, P. & Soursourian, M.