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Representatives of municipal authorities in Benin are urging key government officials to increase the level of resources allocated to basic hygiene and sanitation services in an effort to sustain the gains made so far and close the financial gaps to continue critical interventions across the country.
COTONOU, Benin – The National Association of Municipalities in Benin (ANCB) organized a workshop on 26 June, which was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of the Living Environment, the Bureau of Analysis and Investigation (BAI) and the Presidential Monitoring Unit (UPS).
On behalf of Benin’s 77 municipalities, organizers engaged in advocacy with the three ministries responsible for basic sanitation and hygiene, shedding a special light on the importance of local funding for sanitation and the guidelines on basic sanitation and hygiene spending across the country. It also provided an opportunity to tackle the difficulties faced by municipalities in relation to spending on basic hygiene and sanitation.
In particular, the National Commission on Local Finance (CONAFIL) - the umbrella organisation for the country’s municipalities - issued an appeal to the government to increase its support for the Municipal Development Support Fund (FADeC) to provide local funding for sanitation.
The attendees analysed the concerns of organisations implementing the National Strategy to Promote Basic Hygiene and Sanitation (SNPHAB), particularly the sustainability of the achievements of the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach, which has been implemented in five departments in Benin thanks to the Programme for Improving Access to Sanitation and Hygienic Practices in Rural Areas (PAPHyR).
Mr Félix Adegnika, WSSCC’s National Coordinator for Benin, warned that while progress had been made in implementing the CLTS programmes, with the support of partners, achievements are still essentially fragile and at risk of being lost as projects and programmes end, unless there is a move to consolidate them locally for the long term.
He also emphasised the importance of local authorities making a commitment and working to support areas that have ended open defecation to ensure the sustainability of existing achievements.
The appeal from the WSSCC National Coordinator was followed by others from the representatives of various programmes in the hygiene and sanitation sub-sector (PAPHyR, UNICEF, OmiDelta and USAID). Each of them, in turn, emphasised the need for sustainable funding for basic hygiene and sanitation from municipal authorities, to build on what has already been achieved.
In response, the president of the ANCB and mayor of the largest city in Benin, Mr Luc Atrokpo, thanked organizers for its support to hold the discussion on sustainable funding and the management of basic hygiene and sanitation by municipal authorities, at the start of the fourth term of office for local elected representatives in Benin. He was delighted by the efforts made by municipalities, with the support of technical and financial partners, to combat open defecation.
“We are all happy whenever somewhere declares that it has ended open defecation,” he confirmed, adding that, “getting a community to achieve this status and maintain it in a rural area comes at a price”. He also stated his regret that, “these costs are not yet covered by the FADec, which provides local authorities with the resources to fund various actions related to basic hygiene and sanitation”.
Indeed, in terms of the FADeC mechanism, the dedicated budget line for sanitation which comes under “FADeC living environment” does not cover spending on basic hygiene and sanitation activities. Authorised expenditure only relates to rainwater drainage works. The guidelines for the FADeC under water and health also do not cover local funding for basic hygiene and sanitation.
Following the appeals made by the ANCB and WSSCC, the representatives of the ministries responsible for sanitation made a commitment to report back to their respective Ministers and to make it easier for municipal authorities to access FADeC resources and substantial, long-term funding for their basic hygiene and sanitation work.