By Ceridwen Johnson, Senior Programme Officer – Country Engagement, Coordination and Membership, WSSCC
The National Consultation workshop for Benin took place in Cotonou on Tuesday 5th July thanks to the joint efforts of Félix Adégnika, WSSCC National Coordinator for Benin and the staff of the GSF Programme, known as PAPHyR (Programme d’Amélioration de l’Assainissement et des Pratiques d’Hygiène en milieu rural). It was interesting to see the positive working dynamic between the NC and GSF colleagues.
With committed support of the Ministry of Water and Sanitation, our WSSCC colleagues in country had gathered senior representatives from the ministry of health, UNICEF, mayors, international and national NGO representatives and the media for a lively day of sharing information, discussion and debate.
Opened by the Minister of Health of Benin, Alassane Séidou, he stressed the commitment of the government to increase its contribution to the sanitation and hygiene sector and urged participants to think critically around how WSSCC’s next strategic plan could contribute to the national commitment of ending open defecation by 2030.
Some of the challenges identified arising from discussions however were the lack of political will, the low priority given to basic hygiene and sanitation by the government and municipalities, as well non-compliance with international commitments. To this end, participants would like to see more support from WSSCC in information sharing and exchange of experiences at national, regional and international; supporting monitoring of commitments; and strengthening the capacity of organizations of civil society to engage in policy advocacy.
An interesting outcome of the national strategy consultation was that participants recognised the value of WSSCC’s contribution in bringing key people together for this day-long discussion and were keen to meet more regularly to discuss the challenges and future of the sub-sector. They would like to establish a mechanism for improved coordination and exchanges.
Participants left on a high note, grateful that WSSCC had gathered them together to have the conversation and hopeful that the ‘parent pauvre’ that is the basic sanitation and hygiene sub-sector could be reborn through their collective strength and WSSCC support.
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