Togo: a digital savings system to protect migrating children
Child and adolescent migrants living in street situations are faced with problems of insecurity such as being robbed of the money they have earned by small jobs – that they need to survive another day. To help them, Terre des hommes (Tdh), the Ecobank Group and the Movement for Young African Workers (MAEJT) have launched the SaVa project this February in Togo.
The aim of the SaVa project (Safe Savings) is to protect children and young migrants living in street situations. This pilot project will, for one year, support 150 children in street situations in Lomé, Togo. This use of a banking application to secure young migrants' savings is a world first in child relief. SaVa was launched after a study carried out in the framework of CORAL, our regional project for the protection of migrant children along the Abidjan-Lagos corridor. This study showed that one of the problems of insecurity these youngsters have is the stealing and misappropriation of the money earned by their small jobs. Many children carry their cash around with them, others bury the money in different places, and some of them use informal savings systems to keep their earnings. But these methods are neither safe nor sustainable, and this is where the interest comes from to develop a digital system of micro-saving in their places of transit and destination.
Small-scale banks for young migrants
SaVa aims to improve the security, independence and financial ability of the children and young migrants living in a street situation and working in the Grand Market in Lomé, Togo, and its outskirts. This will allow the children to keep their savings safe by way of the banking application ‘Ecobank Mobile’. So as to make it easy for them to make deposits and withdrawals, an XPRESS ECOBANK point (a neighbourhood micro-agency) will be installed in the Hope Points, reception and assistance sites for young migrants, set up by Tdh.
“When my mother died, I was abandoned and finally found myself on the beach with other kids of my age. I did jobs at the Grand Market in Lomé and earned 500 F (around 0.90 USD) a day. I gave 35,000 F (around 60 USD) to a woman – but she ran away with my money”, Elie tells us. This 13-year old thinks the idea of Terre des hommes and Ecobank is great. “We are being given support, and our money won’t be stolen anymore.”
At the launching ceremony of the SaVa project in February, the Secretary General of the Ministry for Social Welfare, in charge of child protection in Togo, praised the innovative project and invited all the parties in the field of child protection to strengthen their collaboration with Tdh and its partners to make this pilot project successful, with a view to developing it on a large scale.
Photo credit: ©Tdh/Sandro Mahler