The Global Sanitation Fund-supported programme in Benin

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Women, men and children, reunited in the village of Sondi, re-committing to their sanitation journey

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, WSSCC has provided the country’s  partners with guidance about reprogramming, allowing funds to be directed to preventing, delaying and containing COVID-19 in line with government and advice from the World Health Organization (WHO). More detailed country information can be found here.

Executing Agency:
Medical Care Development International
Programme duration:
Programme Coordinating Mechanism:
Chaired by the National Directorate of Public Health (Ministry of Health)
National Coordinator:
Felix Adegnika


In 2019, PAPHyR continued to build a foundation for empowering communities to achieve Open Defecation Free (ODF) status while also advocating at the sub-national level to increase institutional engagement and resource mobilization for hygiene and sanitation.

PAPHyR’s overall objective is to improve sustainable and equitable access to sanitation services as well as good hygiene practices, without discrimination. In line with the SDGs targets, the programme focuses on disadvantaged rural communities with the vision to improve their overall health and living conditions. Since 2018, the program has also carried out some supportive interventions in markets, schools, mosques, health care facilities, leading to obtain entire ODF villages.

Results: With the support provided by PAPHyR, 1,092,000 people across Benin reached ODF status since the start of the programme in 2015. This comprises 72 percent of total ODF coverage in this West-African country of approximately 11 million people, indicating the importance of the PAPHyR programme in Benin. As of the end of December 2019, PAPHyR had enabled 5,444 localities to reach ODF status. At the national level, 17% of the country's localities have been declared ODF.

Innovation and learning: Over the past years, PAPHyR worked around the implementation of the sanitation marketing model, or the application of social and commercial marketing practices to change behavior and to scale-up the demand and supply for improved sanitation, promoting the construction of new latrines. In 2019, some community consultants were trained and subsequently transformed into local engineers to cover the demand for the construction of slabs, latrines and handwashing stations. The successful pilot will be scaled up in 2020.

In 2019 and 2020, the programme continued to exchange lessons learned and best practices with other WASH actors and GSF-supported programmes such as with Togo and Madagascar. The learning generated from these exchanges is being integrated in the future direction of PAPHyR’s implementation.


Benin has a population of 11 million (47% urban and 53% rural) with a GDP of 10 billion. In the country, at the household level, only 16% of the population has reached basic sanitation levels (JMP 2017: limited, basic and safely managed sanitation service levels) and 54% of the population still practices open defecation corresponding to 4 million people. The most recent data states that the estimated number of annual deaths due to diarrheal diseases for children under five surpasses 1600; hence diarrhea represents one of the primary causes of mortality for children under five in the country.

Despite the significant progress in behavior change brought by PAPHyR, an independent outcome survey that was carried out in 2019, revealed sustainability challenges. As a response, WSSCC has provided technical support to reorient PAPHyR’s strategy with a focus on consolidating the results achieved. In line with this objective, a support mission with MCDI experts from Madagascar took place in February 2020 to capitalize on the lessons learned by the GSF-supported programme in Madagascar and strengthen the capacity of Implementing Partners and local government staff. A reorientation plan for PAPHyR is now being rolled out following an analysis of the root causes, the strengths and weaknesses of the programme as well as lessons learned by other GSF countries.

Community ownership, climatic hazards, political and financial commitment are critical challenges in the hygiene and sanitation sector as they all play a role in the achievement and the maintenance of long-term results. The integration of “Leave No One Behind” and “Equality and Non-Discrimination” in the implementation of the programme also represents a challenge.

Future direction

Today, the programme can count on local governments’ engagement, this representing a solid anchor to both scale up ODF results and defeat the sustainability challenge. Municipalities and respective Mayors are committed and acknowledge the importance of sanitation and hygiene as well as the impacts those have on other spheres of life.

The results of previous years will be reinforced to meet the sustainability challenge. Hence, localities returned to the practice of Open Defecation will be brought back to quality Open Defecation Free and the achievements of ODF localities will be consolidated. Through its delegated Implementing Partners, PAPHyR will focus on capacity building to strengthen the strong base of the communities and improve standards in hygiene and sanitation, with a focus on vulnerable people.

PAPHyR will continue to advocate for increased institutional engagement capitalizing on a political opportunity that emerged in the sector:  Sanitation and Hygiene transformed from a Unit in April 2020 to a Directorate under Primary Health Care, which represents a favorable situation for WSSCC’s future engagement in the country.