Digital Micro-Banking as a Health and Protection Intervention for Street-Connected Children and Youth? Analysis from a Togolese Pilot

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Background The SaVa pilot offered street-connected children and youth (C&Y) access to digital micro-banking services to help them save money and thus avoid the violence associated with theft at night. It further used the micro-banking service as a gateway to attract C&Y towards other health and protection services. It took place over 12 months in Lomé, Togo and involved one social worker (SW) plus volunteers running ‘the bank’ in a non-governmental organisation-funded drop-in centre.

Methods C&Y peer researchers were trained to interview and use collective drawing with peers, which they did on a bi-monthly basis. The SW recorded information about case management, training and additional services offered. He administered a survey to C&Y at the point of entry into the project and after 1 year, asking questions about recent experiences of violence or theft. At the end of 12 months, the author conducted interviews with C&Y using the bank, C&Y researchers who used the bank, project staff and steering committee partners and child protection stakeholders. One focus group was conducted with C&Y participants, alongside limited participant observation of where C&Y sleep and work.

Results Findings suggest that the intervention was successful in encouraging children to open accounts and save money, and in contributing to a reduction in theft and associated violence. The incidence of theft reduced 90%; 95% of C&Y account holders were happy with the service; 200 accounts were opened. The project supported the delivery of additional services, including counselling, school reinsertion and removal from the streets.

Conclusions Analysis suggests that it is possible to offer street-connected C&Y formal financial services but that this offer has potential as a health and protection intervention, especially in combination with the provision of a safe space, dedicated SW support and add-on services.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere002423
Number of pages5
JournalBMJ Paediatrics Open
Issue number1
Early online date30 Apr 2024
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2024

Data Availability Statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Data may be obtained from a third party and are not publicly available. The original report on which this article was based is publicly available and free to download, cited in the submission. Certain of the primary data and the research tools can be shared once anonymised by the author. Others are owned by a third party and contain personal identifiers and cannot be shared for legal reasons.

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