Financial Literacy Kit

Using design to increase the impact of World Food Programme's Cash for Work programme in Karamoja


The challenge and project

Situated in northeastern Uganda, the Karamoja region is one of the most deprived and marginalized in the country. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has been operating in Karamoja for more than fifty years, initially providing emergency food assistance and then moving onto cash for work programmes. In November 2012 WFP entered into a collaboration with Design without Borders (DwB) to help increase the impact of the program in the region.

The WFP in Uganda wished to use design to increase the impact of their Cash for Work programme in the Karamoja region. Design without Borders approached the task with various service design methods and at the same time regarding the WFP programmes’ activities as an ordinary service provided to an ordinary client (the beneficiaries).

During the evaluation of interactions between the service provider (WFP) and the client (beneficiaries), DwB involved all stakeholders through the initial research and mapping of the Cash for Work programme. Design methodology was used to facilitate workshops and the DwB designers spent extensive time in the field to observe and work with the beneficiaries of the programme and WFP’s implementing partners. The mapping made weak elements in the chain visible, as well as pointing to opportunities to increase impact. One of the findings were  that the participants in the Cash for Work programme, mainly used to a barter economy, were not familiar enough with the use of money and monetary systems to benefit from the programme.

The solution identified during the mapping materialised in a financial literacy kit and a digital registration tool.

Project results

The Aki Financial Literacy Kit – a kit made up of three different products developed by DwB, that together introduce the concept of cash to beneficiaries and increase financial literacy. A planning tool, a board game – a Karamojan version of Monopoly – and a savings tool. The Aki Digital Registration System – a digital registration system is a digital offline tool, which registers beneficiaries, documents their attendance in a work cycle and adjusts their earnings at any given time.

The planning tool – called Aki Plan: The goal of this tool is to educate people on time, salary and financial planning. It is made up of two components. The first component is a calendar andcalculation tool to inform beneficiaries on when they are supposed to work and how much they earn if they go to work. With this exercise, they can calculate how much money they potentially earn in one work cycle. The second component is a tool directly linked to financial planning. It allows the beneficiaries to imagine how much cash they are going to receive and how they can spend it and save some of it. It also presents different situations which can arise that have consequences on their plan.

The board game – Aki Play: The board game is a tool for training and increase the financial literacy. This is a fun way to show how different financial decisions can affect their family situation. Participants of the board game have to consider how best to invest their money; buying a cow, investing in school fees, saving for emergencies etc. Along the way the participants are hit with scenarios such as “You have to get your cow vaccinated – pay UGX 10,000”. All of the scenarios are based on life-like situation in Karamoja.

The personal budget tool – Aki Save: The third product of the financial literacy kit is a motivational tool. This has not only a function of financial planning but also of saving. The tool is putting the theory in to practice at the point when beneficiaries receive their cash. Through the pockets of the personal budget tool (a wallet) they can maintain their plan of action and have a tangible reminder of their financial planning.

All the elements of the Aki Financial Literacy Kit were prototyped and repeatedly modified based on feedback from user-testing. This resulted for example in a total redesign of the savings wallet. A first prototype of the wallet was made out of a thick white material that could be folded and put into people’s pockets. It had an ordinary wallet shape, with the six pockets as an additional feature. When the wallet was presented to communities, the feedback and co-creation process resulted in a wallet with only one pocket and with a design that was far more suited for the local customs and needs. The final design is a belt-like wallet that can be tied around the waist and hidden under clothing to help prevent theft.

Registration system: During the early mapping and research period, DwB observed another challenge within the Cash for Work programme. The registration of the participants in the programme was entirely manual and frequently led to errors. DwB aligned already existing technology and infrastructure and developed a digital registration system using QR codes. The concept can be used without network coverage and minimizes the load of paperwork and manual documentation. It has made the registration and storing of information of the participant a lot easier for the implementing partners and for WFP.


Watch the short film about the Aki Financial Literacy Kit here: