Benin: advocating for putting rights to water in the country’s constitution

CWP Benin, leading the consultation framework of non state actors of water and sanitation sector has organized on May 3, 2016 a meeting of stakeholders. This meeting was followed by a press conference on the proposal from the civil society organizations asking that the rights to water and sanitation be included in the constitution of Benin. It came out from discussions that a Note should be drafted and addressed for advocacy purposes to the commission set up by the Government on the issue. A team of the civil society was heared by this commission on 23 May 2016.


This advocacy is made to contribute to the reforms process undertaken by the new Government, which has set up a Technical Committee to be responsible for making new political and institutional reforms. Indeed, the Constitution of 11 December 1990 in Benin, like most constitutions adopted in Africa in the 90s implicitly recognizes water and sanitation rights in that they are derived from the fundamental right constitutionally recognized as the right to a healthy environment (Article 27). In doing so, it conformed to the level of recognition of this right in the Conventions, Resolutions and International Covenants ratified by Benin.

Since then, the rights to water and sanitation have been ongoing concerns globally and improving access to water and sanitation has become an essential legal requirement for all countries that have ratified international conventions that deal with access to water and sanitation including:

-        The General Comment No. 15 of 2002 of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which states that "The right to water is fundamental to human beings to live a healthy and dignified life and is a prerequisite for the realization of all other rights »;

-        The United Nations Resolution 64/292 of 28 July 2010, which recognizes that the right to water and sanitation is a human right essential to the full enjoyment of life and the exercise of all human rights, and;

-        The Resolution A / c.3 / 70 / L.55 / Rev1 of 17 December 2015 which now recognizes the rights to water and sanitation as distinct, while reaffirming that they are closely related and linked to the right to an adequate standard of living.

The CSO delegation that met the Commission

These are great progress even though the social and health situation is worrisome because of the level of coverage of drinking water and sanitation services in Benin and it is important to oexplicitly recognise this right as a fundamental right by giving it a higher legal value. So water and sanitation should be brought to the level of development priorities and vulnerable and disadvantaged groups should be targeted in sectoral policies and strategies and the internal law should be in compliance with international commitments.

Meeting with the Commission

The opportunity of the constitutional reform will Benin to join the global momentum that has already resulted in fifteen African countries to integrate the rights to water and sanitation in their constitutions and where significant progress are noted in the universal and continuous access to water for sanitation through the revitalization of the national and international solidarity and moral obligation to help the poor.