From 10 to 11 December 2019, SNV, manager of the Non State Actors Fund (NSA) of the Benin OmiDelta Programme, brought together implementing organisations of the fund’s IWRM component for a two-day exchange on project lessons and best practices.
Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) OmiDelta NSA Fund expert, Apollinaire M. Hadonou, started the meeting by highlighting its importance as part of programme implementation and follow-up. Welcoming all attendees – CIDR-CREDEL-Africa, Green Corporation SA, VNG International, Protos-Green Keeper Africa-ANTEA Group, and PNE-Bénin-ALCRER-Social Watch and key actors from the OmiDelta Technical Assistance, the General Directorate of Water (DGEau), the National Water Institute (INE), the National Agency for the Drinking Water Supply in Rural Areas (ANAEP-MR), the National Association of Municipalities of Benin (ANCB), Ouémé Basin Committee (CBO) – he emphasised the need to share results and collectively build upon these to strengthen synergies in WASH programming and planning.
Progress review and challenges
The CIDR-CREDEL-Africa Green Corporation SA – whose project aims to reduce the impact of flooding in low and middle Ouémé valley – mainly shared their lessons in the development and implementation of awareness-raising plans to improve communities’ knowledge of IWRM and encourage their participation in mapping out water resources within the project area. Towards building an evidence base for future actions, the consortium carried out an inventory of water and soil conservation (CES) techniques, and conducted a hydrological study to identify potential sites for the construction of micro-facilities.
VNG International/Benin – whose project goal is to improve integrated flood management in Ouémé Valley – explained the community dialogue approach they undertook to establish non-state structures to deliver similar types of services while official local water committees,CLE, are still being set up. During the same period, the process of identifying and selecting 16 initiatives with high potential for developing pilot actions was finalised. It is envisaged that all 16 initiatives will contribute to increased flood resilience and where possible, communities’ productive use of water resources, e.g., river tourism, sand extraction, water hyacinth business, etc.
Protos, ANTEA Group and Green Keeper Africa – whose project promotes eco-systemic services in the New Valley of Wémé – presented the opportunities following community-led action plans development, the setup of mobile concentration groups and the safe collection and transformation of water hyacinth for compost generation and other by-products.
PNE-Benin in partnership with ALCREER and Social Watch, shared encouraging results in introducing governance principles in the WASH sector. To facilitate improved governance, the partnership published a handbookto deepen and improve public accountability hearings in communes. Parallel to this, accountability-related advocacy actions were undertaken to raise awareness of officials and staff in sectoral technical ministries. Part of the advocacy was to also encourage ministries to incorporate integrity action plans within their action and budget plans. In addition, the partnership organised a national forum titled, 'Integrity in the Water and Sanitation Sector in Benin' (FoNIEAu) where key recommendations were offered to various state institutions to improve accountability within the sector.
Lessons and recommendations to improve project performance
Of the lessons learnt, two issues stood prominently throughout the two-day exchange: 1) the involvement of local authorities is essential in the execution and success of OmiDelta programme activities; and 2) permanent dialogue with communities and partnering with them meaningfully are crucial to ensure development cohesion.
Major recommendations to overcome programme implementation challenges include:
- giving high priority to building synergistic actions across organisations for sustainability;
- enhancing document sharing between state and non-state actors; and
- increasing effectiveness of IWRM and the operationalisation of the institutional framework in Benin.
In wrapping up, Mouftaou Gado, NSA Fund WASH Expert, congratulated all attendees and said confidently that 'the bet (regarding IWRM operationalisation) is going to be won.'
'We have learned a lot' said Sèdjro Tonoukoin from VNG International. For Baldomer Migan from Protos, exchanges and reflections on sustainability must continue beyond this workshop. And Apollinaire Hadonou encouraged participants to courageously face the challenges posed by sustainability.