Benin: Food Banks Help to Ensure Food Security in Epicenter Communities

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Update to the Global Board
(October 2008)

Executive Summary

The objectives for the last six months were:

  • To assure food security in all The Hunger Project-Benin epicenters including the one built in 2007 at Zakpota. Those objectives remain a great challenge because of the current food crisis.
  • To complete three-quarters construction Bétérou Epicenter by September 30, 2008.
  • To make the health unit of Zakpota Epicenter more functional through collaboration with the Governmental Health Department.
  • To raise loan repayment rate (on time) from 94 percent to 100 percent.

Most of the above objectives have been achieved. To the left is a photo illustrating Zakpota's food bank which is stocked full of grain.

Details on Progress

Food banks have experienced more progress and dynamism than they have in the past. The reasons for this achievement are as follows:

  • Vision, Commitment and Action Workshops (VCAWs) are oriented towards focusing on the issue of food security;
  • Food producing contests held at Avlamè and Ouissi Epicenters; and
  • The allocation of a fund for increasing the stock of Avlamè, Ouissi and Zakpota food banks.

In the epicenters where the food banks were full, as in Ouissi, Zakpota, Avlamè, Akpadanou and Dékpo, approximately four tons of grain (i.e. 80 bags of 50 kilograms) was stocked. However, in Wawata and Kpinnou epicenters, food banks were about two-thirds full due to the temporary flooding of farms during the farming period.

The health unit of Zakpota Epicenter was recently established. Over ten days of work, 21 people were treated and three births registered.

Bétérou Epicenter is only half built, falling short of the three-quarters construction that was initially planned. This is due to a cement shortage that has recently become a nationwide problem.

The loan repayment rate (on time) is now 100 percent.

Recent Innovations

Because the food crisis remains a forefront concern, The Hunger Project-Benin has initiated a food production contest, which aims at encouraging epicenter partners to produce even more. The first contest involved Ouissi and Avlamè Epicenters. The second one is underway at the Zakpota, Ouissi, and Avlamè Epicenters. In the photo to the right, a cassava grinding mill equipped with a portable motor is being awarded at the award ceremony honoring the best food producer, Agbogbohonou village in Avlamè Epicenter.

Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E)

The main achievements of our M&E program are primarily based on the following points:

Elaboration of primary database

This has consisted of reviewing and updating the number of villages in each epicenter, the population (male and female), as well as the assessment of projects which have been carried out or are still underway. In total, The Hunger Project-Benin is working in 11 epicenters with 191 villages. The population of those villages is about 336,426 people, with 177,108 women.

Study and analysis of indicators to be relayed on the web site

This work has enabled us to classify the information and indicators into three different categories:

  • Category A: information gathered from the daily activities of different programs (VCAWs, literacy classes, loans);
  • Category B: information and indicators that will be collected by the trained animators, for instance latrines and water supplying points; and
  • Category C: specific information or indicators provided by Government Departments of health, education, and so forth.

The work has enabled us to develop a data collecting mechanism for monitoring and evaluating important information. The stages of such a mechanism are outlined below.

Identification of partners who collect data on the ground

Community partners have been identified in each The Hunger Project-Benin epicenters to help with the collection of Category B data. The partners who lead this process include members of the Epicenter Committees as well as village committees. This has the double advantage of being (i) pedagogic, as it allows partners to learn the system and (ii) long-lasting, as it enables partners to develop the system with the long-term view of epicenters' self-reliance.

Creating data collecting materials

This stage involves the creation of a method of data collection. The collection method is decentralized down to the village level in order to involve as many local partners as possible, and mostly to encourage data collection from the partners who are nearest to the actual source of information. They have created ten data collection forms for collecting information on 37 indicators on the website.

Training of partners for conducting date collection on the ground

Four training modules have been created for the preliminary phase of training data collectors. Thus far, the training has only been held in Ouissi. The remaining epicenters are scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter.

Prospects for M&E during the coming six months

  • To proceed with the training of the people identified in the epicenters for data collection.
  • To test the data collection forms and materials to assess their validity.
  • To update, if need be, the said forms, materials and methods of data collection.
  • To relay the collected data onto the website in collaboration with all The Hunger Project-Benin units.

Partnership

The Hunger Project-Benin collaborates with:

  • Officials from the Ministry of Health in the epicenters to reduce child mortality, promote maternal health and fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases;
  • Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture to promote food security;
  • Officials from the Ministry in charge of Nursing and Primary Schools to supervise the epicenter maternal schools that have been initiated with The Hunger Project-Benin's support in Ouissi, Avlamè, Wawata and very soon Zakpota Epicenters; and
  • Officials from the Ministry of Literacy to supervise the literacy training curricula and ensure that it remains consistent with Benin's national plan.

In-country Funding Opportunities

The Hunger Project-Benin has not received funding at the local country level.

The Hunger Project-Benin has sent partnership letters to all UN agencies through the Resident Coordinator of Operational Activities of the UN System in Benin. The letter pointed to the similarities in approach of UN agencies to that of The Hunger Project. After the submission of our letter, we have planned to hold a meeting with the representatives of the UN system agencies so that The Hunger Project-Benin can bring forth more information to increase the possibilities of a partnership.

Broader Awareness of The Hunger Project/Media Coverage:

As the world food crisis is becoming more severe, the Country Director of The Hunger Project-Benin delivered a speech about food security in The Hunger Project-Benin epicenters in the presence of representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and the local administration at Ouissi Epicenter. On Friday, May 16, 2008 the daily papers Le Challenge and Le Beninois Libéré released part of this speech in an article entitled, "The Hunger Project-Benin Stimule la Production Vivrière," translated as "The Hunger Project-Benin is enhancing food production."

The speech addressed the pressing issues of the food crisis. The Country Director asked, "Shall we every year keep on running the risk of that dreadful situation of food shortage, of weakened health, of poor financial resources, not being able to meet the basic need of a human being-to eat?" He also expressed that, "We definitely have to have awakening and awareness, to thrill our senses and rouse ourselves to showing on the top level our commitment to achieving total freedom from hunger." The speech also prompted the partners in our epicenter communities to increase food production, as the current food crisis can also be considered an opportunity for small-scale farmers.

Finally, the speech announced the newly-founded "Food Production Day." The Hunger Project-Benin established this day to recognize the best village food producers as a means to continue to stir passion and commitment in the epicenters' partners.

Future Plans

The priorities for the six coming years are as follows:

  • To proceed with food security programs;
  • To complete the building of Bétérou Epicenter;
  • To make the health unit of Wawata Epicenter more functional through collaboration with officials from the Ministry of Health;
  • To follow-up on developing a partnership with the UN system agencies in order to implement the 2009-2013 Assistance Plan Development for Benin;
  • To start The Hunger Project-Benin expansion plan scheduled to begin in 2009; and
  • To keep the loan repayment rate (on time) at 100 percent.

Profile of a Leader

Mrs. Juliet Ketehoundje is a woman food farmer living in Zakpota Epicenter in the Department of Zou in the Republic of Benin. Formerly a leader of a group of about 50 women in 2000, she is now leading a group with more than 500 women members.

Through the AWFFI program, Mrs. Ketehoundje has had the opportunity to develop dynamic leadership to help groups of women progress towards self-reliance and development.

Initially, her house was made of clay and covered with straw, but she now lives in a house made of modern materials that she helped her husband build. She has also succeeded in paying the school fees for two of her daughters so that they now attend secondary school.

The Hunger Project-Benin intends to make Mrs. Ketehoundje's profile known in the other epicenters where her story can serve as a source of inspiration.

Country Profile - Benin

Population (male, female)

Total: 8,053,690 in 2007

Male: 3,934,723; Female: 4,118,967

Source:INSAE 2008

Percent of population in rural areas
58%
Infant mortality rate98/1000
Maternal mortality rate500/100,000
Life expectancy

55 years

(Source: SCRP 2007-2009, final version April 2007)

Percent population undernourished
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate2%
HIV/AIDS - deaths474 (officially declared in 2007)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS11,468 (number of officially under treatment - June 2008)
Literacy Rate (male, female)

General: 32.6

Male: 45; Female 21.9

Primary school enrollment (male, female)

General: 55.3

Boys: 60.8; Girls: 49.4

GDP per capita302 (in CFA 000 Francs (Source: SCRP 2007-2009, final version April 2007)
Population earning less than $1/day31% (Source: SCRP 2007-2009, final version April 2007)