Field Actions Science Reports (Feb 2010)

Health and Environment Project In Benin

  • Raphaël Edou


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In 1989, the Republic of Benin was facing great social and economic upheavals. In 1990, the Canadian and American Mennonite missionaries created the Bethesda Health Care Centre. In 1993, assessment of the hospital activities showed that many people were coming back to the centre repeatedly with the same illnesses linked to sanitation aspects and living conditions. The Community Development and Environmental Protection Department (DCAM) was thus established to face this great challenge. It quickly helped the community and the local authorities to establish a waste management system. The Programme for Sanitation and Protection of the Environment (PrAPE) was designed and funded by the French Embassy and Evangelische Entwicklungsdienst V.e (EED), a German Christian organization. Households then began to subscribe for the collection of their wastes. Bethesda began to assist other communities to put in place waste management systems. Today, it is working throughout the country with many municipalities. While the programme was being implemented, we discovered that the community needed to be supported in their revenue generating activities. We set up in 1996, a solidarity-based microfinance system. The savings of some people were used to grant credit to others. This community bank has developed into a large bank today. In 2006, a system of mutual insurance was put in place. A complete integrated system to address the basic needs of the community was thus set up.