Benin: Bétérou Epicenter Inaugurated and Food Banks Filled to Capacity
Update to the Global Board
The main achievements for The Hunger Project-Benin (THP-Benin) during the past six months were:
- Completing Bétérou Epicenter and organizing its inauguration ceremony;
- Assuring food security in all of THP-Benin's epicenters including the new Bétérou Epicenter;
- Stressing two types of income-generating activities to diversify and assure self-reliance in epicenters:
- Off-season gardens at Kpinnou Epicenter;
- Village shops at Kpinnou and Dékpo Epicenters; and
- Keeping the on-time loan repayment rate at 100%.
Photo: Example of diversification of revenue sources in the epicenters: Off-season garden farming on Kpinnou Epicenter community land.
Details on Progress
In December 2008, construction of the Bétérou Epicenter was completed, and later celebrated in an inauguration ceremony on March 10, 2009 attended by investors visiting from The Netherlands.
By the end of the first quarter of 2009, the food banks of all eight constructed epicenters were filled to full capacity. Three main sources contributed to fully stocked food banks at THP-Benin:
- Production from the community farm on the epicenter land;
- Production from farms at the village level through a contest; and
- Purchases of supplements (when need be).
Self-reliance is built through income source diversification, and THP-Benin has been actively involved in diversifying income-generating activities at epicenters this reporting period. For example, the off-season gardens at Kpinnou and the village shops at the Kpinnou and Dékpo Epicenters help ensure future self-reliance in those epicenters.
At the Zakpota, Ouissi, Akpadanou, Kpinnou, Wawata and Gohomey epicenters, the loan repayment rate has been maintained and/or raised to 100%. This is the result of intensive monitoring and training from our African Woman Food Farmer Initiative (AWFFI) team. However, in Avlamè and Dékpo, the loan repayment rate is still under 100% (with an average of 83%). This will be taken into account in the future so that requisite actions will be duly implemented.
A partnership with a governmental project that supports education in the Dassa district has resulted in the construction of two furnished classrooms with latrines in the epicenter of Ouissi.
In addition, THP-Benin continues to collaborate with:
- Decentralized structures of the Ministry of Health to reduce the infant mortality rate, promote maternal health and fight HIV/AIDS and malaria; and
- Decentralized structures of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Breeding and Fishing for promoting food security.
Broader Awareness and Advocacy
On the occasion of the 21st World AIDS Day, THP-Benin organized a debate conference on December 5, 2008. The topic was: "Exercer le Leadership pour limiter la propagation du VIH/SIDA'' (Leadership for fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS). For this event, THP-Benin gathered journalists, HIV/AIDS animators, THP-Benin staff and other guests such as Dr. Julien Tchibozo, an HIV/AIDS specialist. On that occasion, the Country Director delivered a speech which was relayed in the daily newspaper "Le Quotidien info-plus" on December 9, 2008.
In his speech, the Country Director highlighted that leadership should be exerted by all: THP-Benin staff, epicenter committee members, animators, heads of women's or men's groups, and so forth. In whatever activity they are to lead, or whatever meeting they hold (VCAWs, literacy classes, credit granting or nutrition follow-up sessions), the Country Director asked people to recall how they would protect themselves against HIV/AIDS.
He also indicated that the best way to show leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS is to support education as a key to development. He stipulated in the name of THP-Benin: "We would like to seize this opportunity of the 21st World AIDS Day to renew our support to education for all, in particular, to the education of young people and more especially the education of girls. We are expressing this today by allocating the symbolic amount of 100.000 CFA (US$206) to contribute to the fund recently granted by THP to support girl's education in Zakpota Epicenter."
A recent innovation at THP-Benin concerned the use of organic fertilizer from household refuse and other sources. The objectives were:
- To assure fertilization of poor soils at low cost so as to significantly increase food production; and
- To clean-up villages by disposing of polluting deposits.
This operation is called "Villages Propres - Champs Fertiles" (Clean Villages - Fertile Farms). Apart from household refuse, other sources are used such as:
- Excrement from animal breeding units; and
- Rotten cotton grains from cotton grain plants.
This important innovation creates organic fertilizer which is then deposited into seedbeds at the beginning of the rainy season.
The main objectives for this period were:
- Create detailed action plans for THP-Benin activities for 2009
This objective has been fully achieved. Indeed, planning for 2009 activities on a quarterly basis for each unit/program is available. It will be evaluated at the end of the year in order to draw out progress made and to explain, when need be, the gap between the planned activities and the ones carried out.
- Create and report on Key Performance Indicators (KPI)
These indicators are intended to mark THP-Benin's progress in regards to food security, health, education, microfinance, and other relevant initiatives. The concerned indicators are agreed on by THP Global Office, the investors from the Netherlands and THP-Benin and are to be posted quarterly from January 15, 2009. Some difficulties appeared in the first attempt to collect data. The indicators have been revised and a reviewed presentation table has been designed to be posted during the recent mission of The Netherlands investor trip in March 2009.
- Report on the 60 indicators and post the required data on the website
This exercise has helped THP-Benin realize that a number of indicators did not reflect all of the impacts of THP-Benin's actions. On the basis of the exchanges with THP's Global Office through a teleconference and other considerations, a list of more realistic indicators have been made available. The required data for reporting on these indicators for the first quarter of 2009 will be finalized very soon.