Better regulation of rainwater upstream to put a stop to flooding downstream. This is the challenge the people of Benin are tackling, with assistance from CIDR Pamiga. Simple solutions to limit human and financial losses.

From September to November, southern Benin is regularly impacted by heavy flooding, leading to significant damage that is both economic (crop losses) and social, with houses flooded and people unable even to use boats to access schools or health centres. In 2010, the flooding was so severe that lives were lost. 

The best solution for preventing these risks and improving the attractivity of the impacted regions? Adopt integrated water resources management upstream of the Ouémé River while encouraging local people to take a variety of simple steps to prevent water run-off, such as reforesting and building dykes, stone barriers and storage basins. CIDR Pamiga is involved in this challenging project alongside the not-for-profit CREDEL and the Africa Green Corporation, as part of a programme funded by the Royal Dutch embassy in Cotonou, and via the OmiDelta Non State Actors Fund managed by SNV and the Seine Normandie water agency.

“Ask people living upstream to act to help people living downstream.”

One of the mission’s core challenges is to succeed in engaging people who need to take actions that will protect others. “Our number one focus is on building the upstream-downstream relationship. We had to ask people living upstream to act to help people living downstream,” explains Hervé Sterkers. This is why awareness-raising, in all its forms, is so critical, including radio advertisements, meetings and poster campaigns. Development organizations act via local correspondents — one per commune — who are asked to make presentations on the possible actions and help see that they are put in place. But there are upstream benefits to be had too; as water is encouraged to flow more slowly across the land, less soil is washed away.

“People were quick to grasp the benefits of these measures, which are extremely simple and don’t need much money,” says Hervé Sterkers, Project Manager Climate Change & Environment.

“An old man had been forced to abandon a field that had been flooded by a waterway. After listening to our advice, he was able to build weirs and drainage channels. And this year he’s managed to grow cotton,” recalls Médard Dahodo, a local CREDEL representative in Zogbodomey commune. 

As well as awareness-raising, CIDR Pamiga is also helping to establish a local governance system, creating water committees where villagers can discuss projects before then implementing them together. And despite the fact that the programme is primarily focused on working with communities to implement simple actions, the hope is that it will help to promote IWRM governance, rooted in intrinsic financial sustainability, throughout the entire Ouémé River basin.

People informed during the first year

Actions rolled out during the first year

Communes involved

Other projects