Hospital sanitation in Benin: Biomedical wastes – a health hazard being ignored

The investigation brings to light the management of wastes generated in health centers as hospitals, clinics, dental and veterinary laboratories in Benin. It reveals the state of affairs by laying bare the weaknesses in the collection and handling of BMWs and shows that the current management of BMWs in Benin is exposing both the practitioners (health personnel) and users (patients and visitors) to numerous risks. To buttress this point of view, the investigation lets victims speak in order to share their situation.

By Jean-Claud D. DOSSA.

Published November 14, 2012 in L’Événement Précis.

Read the article in French Les déchets biomédicaux, un péril sanitaire ignoré.

Presumed Guilty

The magazine programme brings to light the phenomenon of wrongful preventive detention in Benin. It puts under the spotlight life in Benin’s prisons, 70% full of persons who are on remand. In the first part devoted to an observation of this phenomenon, we follow accounts of prisoners yet to be sent before the courts and others who have had to be in prison for years before they were simply released. A lawyer, a State Prosecutor and human rights activists provide what they believe are the reasons for this situation.

The second part of the magazine is devoted to avenues for finding solutions. Experts therefore propose among others:

The possibility of trials without remand for minor offences; The release of persons being tried for minor offences and who have already been detained for a duration more that the maximum sentence due; The promulgation and enforcement of the new criminal code procedure which was recently adopted by the National Assembly; The possibility of instituting proceedings against the state in the event of wrongful detention.

By Carmen Toudonou.

Broadcasted  September 21, 2012 à 9h 30 on the nationale radio Ortb

Listen to programme in French Présumés Coupables.

Benin: Combating violence against women

Summary by Marie-Louise Matchoudo: Following several negotiations and advocacy efforts carried out by civil society organizations, the National Assembly of Benin debated on and adopted, during its sitting of September 27, 2011, Law 2011-26 on the prevention and curbing of violence against women. In Benin, tradition has been blamed for being the favorable ground for violence against women. In the district of Ouidah, the custodians of the shrines explain the traditional values which help to refute all these accusations.

According to the Report of the 2009 survey on violence against women in Benin conducted by the Observatory of the Family, Women and Children (OFFE), Benin’s women and girls are subjected to traditional rites and practices which also amount to violence against them. The types of violence which are most frequently observed are physical, moral and psychological. It is particularly in the rural areas that this type of violence is frequent. 69 % of women said they have suffered violence at least once in their life. The most common forms of violence are insulting statements (88%) and beatings (75%). The less common ones are wrongful imprisonment (8, 5%), excision (8%), punitive marks, scarring (7%) committal to traditional and religious rites (6%).

In fact, the custodians of the shrines defend the basis of some traditional practices. An example of these is scarification and others. “Women want to adhere to some acts to show that they love their husbands to death”, says by way of example Dagbo Hounon Houna II, Supreme Spiritual Leader of Voodoo Hwendo of Ouidah. He denies the assertion that voodoo promotes violence against women. In the world of voodoo, women outnumber men. Persons and adepts in the majority cannot be persecuted, for they have a hold on power.

Apart from the custodians of the shrine who debunk the claims of violence against women, some academics such as sociologist and lecturer, Honorat Aguessy, in spite of some unacceptable cases, hold the view that tradition and voodoo have always exalted and celebrated women on account of the paramount position they have in society.

While the law has provided for punishments for those who commit violence against women, the voodoo tribunal on its part has not been silent towards them. That is why it has always acted swiftly with its own sanctions against those found guilty of non adherence to customs. The conflict in interpretation of the two systems calls for bridge building between tradition and law. Professor Bio Bigou, a former Member of Parliament and former president of the network of parliamentarians on issues of population and development, advises that this law should be made known and especially that it be translated into the national languages.

By Marie-Louise Matchoudo.

Published September 14, 2012 in Le Matin.

Read the article in French Quand la loi et traduction chassent à Ouidah.


Sand winning sites in Abomey-Calavi – an ordeal for the communities

Located to the north of Cotonou, Abomey–Calavi is the largest district of the Atlantic region. With an area of 650km², it has 70 villages and 500 thousand inhabitants from different backgrounds. There are several mainland sand winning sites in this town, with areas varying between 5 and 20 hectares. These sites were established in 2010 following the ban imposed on the collection of sea sand by the government of Benin in its desire to fight against coastal erosion.

Based on a thorough environmental impact study carried out by Benin’s Environmental Protection Agency in conjunction with the Ministry of Mines, the government authorized extraction of lagoon sand in the areas of least impact such as Abomey-Calavi in order to satisfy consumers with pending demands. This explains the proliferation of sand extraction pits in the Abomey- Calavi district. Among them are the sites in the suburbs of Dèkoungbé, Agassa-godomey, Akogbato, and Togbin-Daxo.

For the Municipal Council and the 9 contractors in the district business is flourishing. They are alleged to making about 8, 000, 000 CFA Francs a day, that is about 2000 US dollars. The communities on their part are faced with environmental problems. These are among others, the highly degraded state of the access roads to the sites, the risks of accidents, the risks of diseases arising from the atmospheric and noise pollution as well as flooding. The flora and fauna are not spared either.

By Juliette Mitonhoun.

Broadcasted August 31, 2012 on Radio Azerkè.

Listen to the programme in French Carrieres de sable à Abomey-Calavi – Un calvaire pour les populations.

When scrap becomes valuable

An investigation into the heart of an activity which has been on the rise for nearly ten years in Benin: the scrap business. Thus, pieces of scraps are collected in all parts of Benin and exported to Asian countries. It is an activity which solves the problem of aesthetic pollution of Benin’s cities and towns and in which many young people are engaged and thus creates jobs. Unfortunately, these youths are highly exposed because safety measures are not taken on the collection sites. The environmental consequences should not be glossed over. According to the regulations in force, the stocking of these types of materials on fields, whether fenced or not, is prohibited. This is however not complied with. Sometimes, radioactive materials are found in the heap, while Benin does not have the necessary facility to treat them. In spite of all this, Benin can derive something better from the sector. While the export curve is rising, the state does not collect export taxes. The sector could be organized based on a well determined survey to identify the actors in the sector, the problems, the advantages and disadvantages as well as the prospects. The investigation also made it possible to note that all the scrap collected in Benin is exported. However, industries could be set up to process them and thus create wealth and jobs in Benin.

By Jean Paul Ibikunlé.

Broadcasted August 21, 2012, at 11h 05 on Radio Nationale Ortb.

Listen to the programme in French Quand la ferraille prend de la valeur.

Proliferation of sports training centers

Laxity, amateurism and an FA in crisis, all causing a lot of damage

As is the case in many African countries, Benin has embarked on sports apprenticeship based on training centers and studies. However, the peculiar situation in this case is that these centers have been established under conditions which do not guarantee that results expected from them can be achieved, or are even jeopardized. Thus, the Ajavon Sébastien sports training Centre (Cifas) which is most representative never made a headway. Administratively, it cannot be faulted. Yet, after only five years of existence, it had to fold up.

The reasons are many. Mostly, an amateurish management and, especially, a Football Association in a crisis in which the president of the center is one of the key protagonists. Other centers which have been established do not meet the required conditions and operate in all impunity. Thus, young talented players have seen their dreams broken. The same goes for parents and teachers, who were suddenly left in terrible helplessness. Their accounts speak volumes and are indeed moving. Only a few, which gave priority to the future of the learners, manage to come off more or less well. France Bénin Football Plus (FBF+) which had a different approach enabled its trainees to obtain the Baccalaureate in France, is cited as an example.

Seeing that the problem is assuming greater proportions, the government of Benin, through the ministry in charge of sports, is trying to react. Henceforth, the operation of the training centers shall be subjected to the strictest conditions. But for now, control leaves much to be desired. Though the mess has reduced considerably.

By Pascal Hounkpatin

Published August 14, 2012 in La Presse du Jour.

Read the article  in French: Prolifération des centres de formation sportive.

Barriers limit trade aspiration of ECOWAS

Random road blocks, entrenched bribery and bloated tariffs along the Ghana-Togo-Benin-Nigeria corridor are seriously affecting the achievement of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme ((ETLS) and affecting inter-country trade within the sub-region.

By Michael Thompson, Wisdom Johnny-Nuekpe and Vanessa Obioha Onyinye.

Published July 21, 2012 in The Globe Newspaper and

Read the article Barriers limit trade aspiration of ECOWAS.

Regional smuggling network uncovered

The endemic smuggling of pirated textiles across the Ghana-Togo-Benin borders rapidly is adversely affecting textile manufacturers within the sub-region. Investigations at the Ghana-Togo-Benin borders revealed that the trade is booming and shows no sign of abating. While on the Togo-Benin border, smugglers typically connive with customs officials and pay a bribe per fabric smuggled, well-organised groups facilitate the trade on the Togo-Ghana border. Numerous holes, referred to as “beats” by the smugglers, have been created in the wire fencing that separates Ghana and Togo to serve as smuggling routes for textiles and other goods into Ghana.

By Dominick Andoh (Ghana) and Prince Elolo (Bénin).

Published July 4 and July 31,2012 in Business and Financial Times Newspaper and

Read the article Regional smuggling network uncovered.




Illegal excision resists in Benin

The Benin government has been engaged by law in the fight against female genital mutilation (FGM) known as female circumcision. The parliament and the president of that time, General Kerekoup, passed the law on the suppression of the practice of female genital mutilation in 2003. More than 9 years after the enactment of this law, these retrograde practices still occur in parts of Atacora, where there are some isolated pockets of resistance.

By Jean-Claude Kouagou

Published June 28, 2012 in Le Matinal

Read the English summary Illegal excision resists in Benin

Read the article in French L’excision clandestine résiste aux effort


Data Harvest in Brussels

The Data Harvest is being held the 9-11 May 2013 in at the Erasmushogeschool Brussels. The aim of the Data Harvest is to learn and practice new research methods, find out how to find stories out of unstructured information and get access to hidden data by using specialised techniques. Read more.