The country has been unable to implement a development model based on long-term planning. The economy is shrinking and inequality is worsening at an alarming rate, but the Government is squandering the budget on propaganda and creating yet more jobs in the bureaucracy. The country has been badly hit by natural disasters that have caused havoc in agriculture, health and education, and it is only too evident that the Government had no contingency plans in place. There has been some progress (though not enough) in improving health care and access to potable water, but overall the country’s most pressing need is for a sustainable development model that works.
Benin’s difficulties with development have been aggravated by the international financial crisis. This had a severe impact in the donor countries and brought about a reduction in official aid and direct investment, and led to massive withdrawals of capital by foreign investors. The country must take measures to control the movement of capital so as to promote beneficial foreign investment. In addition, respecting human rights, which is an essential condition for development, must become an objective in itself.
The multiple global crises have had a varied impact on Benin’s economy and the population as a whole has become more vulnerable, especially the poorer members. Civil society has worked both as a partner and in liaison with Government in promoting ways to combat the crisis, develop a new green revolution and provide school food programmes. It has also encouraged investment in agriculture and combating climate change, as well as technological exchange.

This month´s “Spotlight On…” column will profile Social Watch Benin, currently one of the most vibrant groups of Watchers in francophone Africa. As a signal of its success, the Beninese coalition was featured as one of the case studies in the new Social Watch publication “Learning from Successful Experiences”, and in addition will play host to the next meeting of the Social Watch Coordinating Committee, programmed for July 17-19 in Cotonou.

Social Watch Benin has just launched her website. Through this bilingual English and French website Watchers will find out about the work and achievements of Social Watch Benin. This site fulfils a strong desire of the entire membership of the Social Watch Bénin network and aims at making visible all information and inputs susceptible of reinforcing the network’s synergy and the actions for social equality and the achievement of the MDGs.

Next Thursday, January the 31st, Social Watch Bénin will be launching de Social Watch Report 2007 together with the Alternative CSO’s Report on the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). The launching will take place at the Palace of Congress, in Cotonou.



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