How GWP, nations transformed Benin’s water sector

A brand-new national water policy, an innovative water law and a foreign intervention running into millions of Euros now typify the hitherto sluggish water sector in Benin Republic.

Courtesy of the Global Water Partnership (GWP), the West African nation has developed an effective Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) plan, which was facilitated by GWP Benin (the Country Water Partnership), with support from GWP technical and financial partners.

The process, it was gathered, led to the incorporation of IWRM principles in multiple national Strategies for Growth and Poverty Alleviation (SCRP), the government’s 2009 national water policy, and its 2010 national water law. A total of over €23 million was reportedly generated for the implementation of Phases 1 and 2 of the national IWRM action plan.

According to the Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso-based GWP West Africa, The IWRM plan has three five-year phases. Phase 1 (2011-2015) includes the definition and costs of priority actions as well as governance reforms identified as necessary for achieving plan objectives, such as establishing a Steering Committee, an Implementing Unit, and Basin and Local Committees. The total budget for Phase 1 was approximately €22.5 million.

Phase 2 (2016-2020) pushes for improved coordination of IWRM implementation at all watershed levels. The budget for Phase 2 is €36.8 million; external financing is estimated to represent 59%.

“The IWRM planning process was successful in mobilising finances for sustainable water management. This dates to 2006 when the Government of the Netherlands set up PPEA I in Benin, which included over €5 million to support IWRM. An additional €1.6 million was secured from other partners, including the governments of Denmark, Germany, and France,” stated GWP.

It adds that, in terms of implementation, the Netherlands and the European Commission provided support in funding PPEA II (2013-2015) and Programme Omi Delta (2016-2021), which uses Benin’s national IWRM plan as a reference document. Total funding for these programmes is said to over €100 million, with approximately €17 million is specifically allocated to IWRM interventions.

Benin began an IWRM deltaic planning process targeting the Ouémé basin under PPEA II, in respect of which GWP Benin is working to improve understanding of delta management among key stakeholders, including non-state actors.

The influence on water governance frameworks spread far beyond the creation of an IWRM plan, says the GWP. The organisation adds that, from a development planning perspective, the IWRM planning process was closely linked and incorporated into Benin’s SCRPs, which serve as key national reference documents on the country’s socio-economic development as well as mechanisms to align external funding with national priorities.

From a political and legal perspective, the IWRM process, notes GWP, enabled Benin to develop a new national water policy in 2009 and a new water law in 2010, which provide the institutional basis for improved water management strategies.

The establishment of the Benin Country Water Partnership in 2001 was said to have laid the foundation for the development of a national IWRM action plan, which pioneered capacity building initiatives that improved stakeholders’ understanding of IWRM principles and implementation.

GWP says: “Benin’s government formally requested GWP’s support in developing its national IWRM action plan. GWP’s first task was to reignite sectoral ministries’ interest in IWRM, which had decreased due to a lack of tangible progress since the Kouhounou Declaration and the WSSD. GWP Benin’s proactive and persistent advocacy led to the establishment of a management committee to oversee the IWRM planning process.

“GWP Benin provided the committee’s Vice-Chairman and Deputy Secretary, thereby counter-balancing the political weight and maintaining impartiality. All stakeholders approved an IWRM roadmap structured according to the steps of the IWRM planning cycle developed by GWP under the PAWD programme.

“As well as playing a key role in management mechanisms, GWP Benin mobilised its network to support a decentralised approach. Area Water Partnerships (AWPs) were established in eight different regions. These AWPs facilitated local participation in the plan’s development, training sessions, and consultation workshops. GWP was also responsible for engaging with media to maintain visibility of the process.

“GWP Benin has retained a key role in supporting the implementation of the completed IWRM plan. This includes maintaining the neutral partnership platform established as an essential component of the plan and acting as an advisor to the plan’s Steering Committee, which was set up to monitor progress and mobilise external financing.”

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