GWP Benin has been involved in several major projects including:
• Partnership for Africa's Water Development (PAWD II, 2005–2009) supported by GWP;
• Multi-Year Programme for Water and Sanitation (PPEA, 2007–2012) supported by the Dutch Ministry of Cooperation;
• Project for Promoting Integrated Water Resources Management at the Local Level (PAGIREL, 2006–2011) financed by the European Union Water Facility; and
• WASH Programme (2011–2015).
The network is growing, with over 300 members, local Partnerships at eight locations in the country plus international collaboration, such as the promotion of IWRM in the Niger and Mono basins, and international training on IWRM in West Africa, involving GWP West Africa, Sida, SIWI, and Ramboll Natura from 2005 to 2011. But this all sprang from humble beginnings. The Partnership was established in 2001 and is hosted by the Benin branch of the pan-African intergovernmental agency Water and Sanitation for Africa (WSA, formerly CREPA). This African water supply and sanitation knowledge centre provides administrative and financial services to GWP Benin.
Working at the national level
The Partnership has been involved in all the major policy processes in the country over the last ten years, and is a constant presence ensuring that national actors are informed about IWRM and are conscious of the need to apply it in Benin. GWP Benin organises capacity building and sensitisation workshops on water issues and IWRM for public administrators, decision makers, municipalities, NGOs, the private sector and water users.
An IWRM media network was created in 2007 and is actively supplying information, lobbying and involving itself in the activities of institutional actors in the water sector. The network organised a parliamentary training workshop on IWRM and the draft Water Law in November 2009. GWP Benin has worked for the closer involvement of national and local water stakeholders at each step in the development of the country's Water Law, Water Policy and IWRM Plan.
A major success was the new Water Law. GWP Benin had worked on this for several years, and lobbied to convince parliament to approve it. With the law and its implementation, the institutional basis for a new way of managing water is now in place. Some of the institutions (Basin Committees, Local Water Committees, the National Water Council, and the National Water Agency) are supposed to pick up some of the tasks that up to now have been completed by GWP Benin.
The Partnership will contribute to the development of a methodology for establishing and developing the capacities of the new institutions defined under the Water Law. In some cases, these institutions will consolidate local IWRM activities supported by GWP Benin in a formal institutional framework.
The selection of GWP Benin and the Netherlands Water Partnership as the technical secretariat of the technical advisory platform on cooperation between the Netherlands and Benin in the water sector is another success for the Partnership – GWP Benin was one of the drivers behind the process. The platform was the subject of a Memorandum of Understanding for the period 2012–2015 to be signed by the two countries in January 2012. The Memorandum of Understanding will strengthen cooperation on integrated water resources management and the mobilisation of water for food security and for achieving the Millennium Development Goals on water and sanitation. The creation of this platform connects the administrations of water and sanitation, civil society and the private sector of both countries, particularly through GWP.
Even before all the national institutions were in place, GWP Benin had already started work on local-level water resources management together with other partner projects (PPEA, PAGIREL, and the Multi-Year Programme supported by the Belgium Government, 2008–2013). Since 2008, eight local water Partnerships have been set up (Alibori, Atacora, Atlantique-Littoral, Borgou, Couffo, Mono, Ouémé-Plateau and Zou-Collines). The creation of this network means that IWRM implementation at the level of water users is becoming a reality.
Looking outside the country
There is also a need for collaboration between countries at the national level on the use of the major transboundary basins. Both the Niger and the Volta are part of the national water system and, although they have a limited direct effect on hydrology, their indirect effect is considerable. For example, almost all the electricity in Benin comes from hydropower generated abroad.
GWP Benin's success has been recognised by its neighbours and it is regularly asked to support GWP West Africa. But the collaboration extends even further – GWP Benin's experience and advice was called on when GWP Rwanda took shape. GWP Mali, Niger, Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire, and Togo have all visited the country to learn from the GWP Benin experience.