- At national level: journalists not able to access information on activities of the water sector authorities in a country where no current law outlines the right to information
- At local level: complex distribution of responsibilities following decentralization measures increased tension between planning and implementing authorities, creating loopholes and in some cases blocking WASH developments
Action and Outcomes
The Partneriat National de l’Eau in Benin (National Water Partnership or PNE Benin) has led several successful initiatives to ensure journalists have the tools and knowledge to assess the water sector more accurately and encourage more transparency and integrity from authorities.
At the national level, the PNE Benin advocated for the initiation of regular information sessions between water sector decision-makers, key private water sector stakeholders, journalists and civil society organizations. Water and Health authorities now share information publicly on budget allocation twice a year, including project execution, planning and key challenges of the water and sanitation sector. This provides a platform for authorities to highlight results and is an incentive for more transparency. The sessions are also an opportunity for journalists to obtain more accurate figures and question ongoing developments.
At the local level, the PNE Benin developed training sessions for local journalists [LINK blog post] on WASH issues and integrity, and organized one-day immersion sessions or direct contacts with local stakeholders. The articles, radio programmes and TV documentaries developed by the journalists following the sessions clearly pointed to serious deficiencies in the way projects had been carried out. The new information spurred a local debate and pressured stakeholders into taking action to clarifying responsibilities and improving tendering processes.
Emphasis on dialogue between stakeholders, rather than cross-examination, helps build trust and can ease the set-up of such initiatives
- The credibility of the local partner (PNE Benin) involved in advocating for and setting up the info sessions was key to the success of the initiative
- Water sector authorities can be keen to communicate and improve public image. This can be a useful entry point
Case Sheet (only available in French)