Unesco Green Citizens

Solidarity for water on Nokoué project (PCSEN)

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Project begin: 07/08/2006

Seven communities around the lake Nokoué are suffering from the lack of water sanitation. To solve this problem, they have launched a participatory management programme, enabling everyone to take part in looking for water sanitation solutions! 

The PCSEN is a project, structured under the auspices and with Emmaus International’ that enables participatory management and sustainable access to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene on the Nokoué lake in Benin. Originally, the project was financed for 52 months (from July 2011 until October 31, 2015), the PCSEN was then extended for six months to end on May 31, 2016. But the consultations started in 2007 and today, Emmaus international continues to dedicate a budget to this project.

The project has several objectives: improvement of living conditions, improvement of health, empowerment and reappropriation of fundamental rights, development of public citizen management of water and sanitation.
The PCSEN was implemented around four main activities:

– Access to drinking water
– Access to sanitation
– Hygiene promotion
– Capacity building

The project went through a first phase targeting 2 pilot sites (Ahomey-Gblon and Gbessou). These positive experiences led to a second phase targeting 7 sites in the municipality of Sô-Ava, that was financed jointly by Emmaus International, the European Union (Water Facility) and the Abbé Pierre Foundation.


Leading organisation: Emmaus international and its local group based in Cotonou (Emmaus Pahou)
Covered Countries: Benin
Theme: Education for Sustainable Development, Hydrology
Sub-themes: Access to water, Knowledge sharing, Poverty and inequality reduction, Resources management, Rural areas, Water education, Water resource management
Tag: #Africa
Selection: 2020
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Initial Problem

The health situation in the commune of Sô-Ava is alarming, especially the situation of the population living on the shores of the Nokoue lake in the commune. The inhabitants of the different villages live on water thanks to houses on stilts but have no access to drinking water. The problem, therefore, is not a question of water scarcity but of access to water, purification, sanitation and management. The very high level of water pollution is partly due to the defecation of the population in the lake water (inexistence of toilets in the houses) and the presence of animal corpses and garbage in the lake. In addition, the lake is connected to the sea and has a particularly high rate of salinization. The existing water points are not in good condition, so a large part of the population has to travel 10 to 15 kilometers by pirogue each week to get water. The lake water therefore provided an alternative but increased the insalubrity and health risks such as cholera, typhoid fever, malaria or dysentery. The situation created other problems such as the disruption of children’s schooling, drowning of children in search of water, disputes over boreholes…

The positive impacts that the project has made:

In 2011, 10% of the population of the 7 localities had access to drinking water. Following the implementation of the PCSEN, this has increased to 61%.
The implementation of the PCSEN has made it possible to provide the populations of the 7 sites with 84 sanitary blocks, i.e. 336 latrine cabins.
The participatory and inclusive approach has had a positive impact because it contributed to strengthening community dynamics involvement.
The creation of an association of users who come from the communities of the concerned sites is also a success of the project.
Another positive impact is the capacity of the most excluded to organize themselves in order to win back a common good: water (and sanitation).

The impacted areas and population

The main impacted areas are located in Southern Benin, Atlantic Department, Commune of Sô-Ava, localities of Dékanmey, Sô-Tchanhoué, Ganvié I, Ganvié II, Vekky, Sô-Zounko and Kinto.
Until now, thanks to the project, 69,443 people have access to drinking water and sanitation facilities and got training in good hygiene practices. The population living on the shores of the Nokoué lake, lead their lives in a context of relative exclusion, that is why this project is strongly impacting their lives as actors of transformation.

The obstacles and challenges

The project is currently facing two big issues:
– Capacity building needs: The lack of human resources and management capacity in the Association of Users makes it difficult to monitor and build the capacity of the different user groups. It is also essential to build the capacity of operators regarding the maintenance of pumping and treatment plants.
– The sustainability of the project is threatened by the cost of some facilities, especially the choice of power supply by generator.


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