Capital: Porto-Novo

Official Language: French

Population: 10.32million

In Benin, OSIWA has supported civil society coalitions working on issues of constitutional reform, corruption, political empowerment and participation of women and youth, and training and capacity building for newly elected local government officials. These efforts have strengthened some of the coalitions’ core members. In addition, the OSIWA/AfriMAP project also succeeded in developing high-level contacts for the foundation and opening conversations on electoral, constitutional and other reform processes.

OSIWA’s decision to work in Benin is informed by the need for an exemplar to inform and inspire others in West Africa, while also ensuring that it avoids the tendency for democratic regression that is sweeping through many African countries.

The Foundation’s strategic objective in Benin is to support the substantial participation of civil society organizations in institutional and policy reforms processes. These efforts will draw on OSIWA’s institutional credibility, its access to government officials and its track record in strengthening civic movements to mobilize and engage citizens in governance and monitoring of public affairs.

OSIWA works to strengthen governance institutions and advance policy reforms by:

  • Building the capacity of the Commission Electorale Nationale Autonome through sub-regional peer-learning mechanisms;
  • Catalyzing a consensual constitutional review process aimed at establishing a permanent independent electoral commission;
  • Strengthening judicial independence and repositioning the Constitutional Court;
  • Promoting mechanisms to ensure greater accountability by institutionalizing the relationship between members of parliament and constituents.

OSIWA also supports decentralization and local governance reform, emphasizing measures to effectively transfer resources and competences and institutionalize the role of traditional rulers in local governance. The Foundation will also work to improve access to justice at the grassroots level by building the capacity of paralegals and promoting alternative disputes resolution mechanisms within the legal system.

OSIWA further works to build a vibrant civil society movement and a pluralistic media sector that can engage on substantive issues in political processes. Specifically, the Foundation will support advocacy to enable civil society and the media to take part in the constitutional review process by engaging the government and the legislature for their buy-in on proposed amendments to the Constitution. OSIWA also seeks to cultivate citizen demand for accountability in public service delivery by creating a national grassroots movement to hold local government to account in this area.

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