The recent signing of a policy document between the government of Benin Republic and several municipal mayors to address climate change in the country has garnered widespread acclaim. It is particularly noteworthy in the light of the World Bank’s recent warning about the escalating environmental degradation taking place in the nation, of which, it attributed, in part, to the rapid growth of the population and the unsustainable utilization of natural resources.
Minister Tonato emphasized that Pavicc will significantly contribute to building climate-resilient infrastructure, specifically in areas like roads, sanitation, and equipment.
The World Bank also forecasts that climate change is poised to worsen existing development challenges, particularly in the agricultural and health sectors. The Minister of Living Environment and Transportation, José Tonato, representing the government signed the specific agreement document entitled “Program for Adapting Cities to Climate Change (Pavicc)” alongside the mayors of some cities, including Cotonou, Bohicon, Comè, and Sèmè-Podji. Minister Tonato underscores that Pavicc has a crucial aim: to bolster the climate change adaptation capacities of beneficiary municipalities. He characterizes Pavicc as a dynamic framework for experimenting with local development within the context of the increasingly adverse impacts of climate change. “Pavicc must serve as our laboratory, a pilot program with prototype projects through which we can acquire expertise in climate-resilient construction and then replicate these practices in other municipalities,” he explained. Minister Tonato underlined that the success of Pavicc isn’t just about financing; it hinges on the sustainability of the initiatives. He affirmed a dedicated commitment to ensuring Pavicc’s success and setting an example for future programs. Pavicc encompasses various key components, including comprehensive urban planning strategies. This involves the development of strategic urban planning tools designed to better account for climatic and socio-economic risks in land use planning. It also includes investments in resilient urban infrastructure for long-term urban services, such as drainage systems, neighborhood development, material asset protection, and flood-prone area management. Moreover, the program strengthens the capacities of local and national authorities to exercise better control over urbanization while fostering international technical assistance for effective program implementation and monitoring. It also allocates resources for the operational coordination unit, community awareness campaigns, and environmental measures during project implementation. Minister Tonato emphasized that Pavicc will significantly contribute to building climate-resilient infrastructure, specifically in areas like roads, sanitation, and equipment. He stressed that maintenance is the cornerstone of resilience, ensuring that infrastructure remains sustainable over time.
Despite work not being entirely complete, the early effects of the program are already evident. Cities like Bohicon have benefited from comprehensive planning documents, notably the Municipal Development Plan. Rufino d’Almeida, the Mayor of the Municipality of Bohicon, pointed out that the program has bolstered their capacity and resilience to withstand natural disasters, especially floods. He highlighted the active involvement of beneficiary municipalities in implementing the program, including ensuring the proper functioning of local technical monitoring committees, engaging municipal executives and managers in the development and execution of planning documents, and efficient allocation of budgetary resources. Comlan Hounnou, the Director General of Urban Development, emphasized that the project is co-financed by the French Development Agency and the national budget, reflecting the international and national commitment to this vital initiative.