Lives, livelihoods, and properties are at risk of destruction because of climate change. This is the case in Benin where many people live close to bodies of water. It is one thing to recognise that climate change is real. But another to realise that building the resilience of communities to climate change must start today before it is too late.
SNV, PSL Eau (VNG International), GIRE-PSE (CIDR-pamiga), and NVW-GIRE (Protos) are responding to the global call for climate action in Benin. As manager of the Non-State Actors Fund of the Dutch Embassy’s OmiDelta programme in Benin, SNV published the fund’s key contributions in:
- preparing communities to adapt to climate variability, and
- increasing the valuation of water in the context of climate change.
Within one year of implementation, the following are highlights of the achievements of SNV’s partners in Benin.
PSL Eau (VNG International)
Early warning systems could save lives; especially in areas where flooding is common. Community adoption of PSL Eau’s early warning system is in progress in the municipalities of Abomey-Calavi, Porto-Novo, Sèmè-Podji, Sô-Ava and Zè. Set to be operational by the end of 2021, the system is expected to benefit 70,000 people. State actors have also indicated an interest to take the system nationwide.
Most of the time, water levels do not rise overnight. These often occur over time but could still catch people by surprise. To strengthen adaptation practices, several technologies were introduced. Among others, these include:
- a footbridge equipped with a water regulation device to regulate water flow;
- the construction of drainage systems and protective dikes; and
- decongestion of waterways to restore the ecosystem and improve water quality.
Sketch of a resilient structure with a bamboo wall
To strengthen the resilience of vulnerable populations living along the Ouémé Delta (Adja-Ouèrè, Ouinhi, Toffo, Zagnanado, Zè and Zogbodomey), GIRE-PSE introduced water and soil conservation systems to slow down the flow of water. Low-cost and easy-to-use systems were introduced and adopted by communities. These include fascines, sand barriers, zaïls, agricultural half-moons, stone bunds, etc. to curb or slow down water runoff. As the maintenance of these systems comes with a price, the GIRE-PSE team plan to raise awareness on the importance to pay for services.
GIRE-PSE also partnered with a community in a reforestation project along the Hlan river. The project seeks to slow down the degradation of the riverbank. Construction of water retention basins along the flood-prone areas of the lower and middle Ouémé valley is in progress.
Reforestation efforts to slow down bank degradation
Fascine placement to minimise the risk of soil erosion
In the municipalities of Aguégués, Adjohoun, Bonou and Dangbo, Community Actions Plans to protect the ecosystem were developed and endorsed by the communities. As a result, waterways had been decongested, some forests reforested, etc. Unique to NVW-GIRE’s approach has been in its efforts to turn water hyacinths into a product that brings profits. No longer an aquatic plant that could block waterways, water hyacinths are now being turned into fertilisers, absorbent fertilisers, etc. Today, water hyacinths have become a source of income.
Development of resilience action plans with communities
The NSA Fund
The NSA Fund is managed by SNV in Benin. It places participatory, inclusive, and learning approaches at the centre of its design. The systems mentioned above were created at the request of residents during community dialogues. Clearly, as described above, the partnership has been offering a wide range of systems to help build a climate-resilient future for Benin. But these are bound to get lost. More has to be done to document practical experiences in the design, construction, and maintenance of these systems. More has to be done to strengthen the capacity of different actors to work towards common goals.
As the NSA Fund draws to a close by the end of the year, SNV in Benin is committed to share the story of the Fund. As well, to make sure that these lessons strengthen SNV’s own approach in improving rural water supply management.
Learn more about the Fund. Contact, the SNV/OmiDelta NSA team by email