For the past 10 years the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) has supported Benin's transport sector under the Programme d'Appui au secteur routier (PASR, or Road Sector Support Programme). PASR is currently in its second phase. Given the many achievements of this programme, DANIDA wanted to share its successes with young people in the context of a new communication strategy. The most important target group is students who will, after all, make up Benin's future leaders and decision-makers. To this aim, three activities have taken place:
Provide three universities in Benin with useful informaitonal materials on transport. These are: l’Institut Universitaire de Technologie (IUT, or Technical University) in Lokossa, the Department of Geography and Land Management at the University of Abomey-Calavi and the National School of Applied Economics and Management(Ecole Nationale d’Economie Appliquée et de Management (ENEAM))
Carry out exchange visits at two different campuses, and
- Develop a training course on rural road construction for the engineering curricular.
These activities were carried out with the aim to create a sense of ownership of the programme among its beneficiaries.
On the campuses of Lokossa and the Unviersity of Abomey-Calavi, between 150 and 500 students from various schools (civil engineering, geography and land management, socioloy, transport economics and applied economics and management) listened attentively to the DANIDA delegation who made a presentation on labour-based methodologies adopted by PASR as a way of rehabilitating community roads.
In the first presentation, DANIDA's Transport Advisor Birte Rorp Pedersen highlighted labour-based methodologies as part of DANIDA's transport strategy to help reduce poverty. In the transport sector, DANIDA has financed many projects and PASR, which is one already started in 1999. Almost 10 years later it is important to share the lessons learnt and success stories.
A specialist in transport economics and head of DANIDA's Transport Programme, Dr Jean-Claude Takpa presented labour-based methods as an economic policy to reduce poverty and youth unemployment. He stated that labour-based methods are centred around people and that the approach is more than just road construction: it is a method that considers the needs of the communities to meet their basic needs. This method has come a long way and today is recognised as a viable approach reuslting in good quality road works.
Unfamiliar with the method, the students wanted to know about quality assurance of using local labour over large equipment.
Consultant Adétutu Yebadokpo demonstrated that the method has resulted in impeccable quality work, as the PASR programme has demonstrated. « What we do with a grader is also possible with our hands», he stated. He added that it is useful to provide follow-up and monitoring and the same standards and specifications as using equipment. Labour-based methods enable some cost-savings as heavy equipment is expensive. For young entrepreneurs, this approach allows them to do business and be active.
According to expert Fiacre ADDA, who is a socio-économist, the method is more than just a solution for youth unemployment as it also has socio-economic impacts. He illustrates this by sharing some of the results of a socio-economic impact assessment study that was carried out upon completion of PASR Phase I. In this phase over 325 km of roads have been rehabilitated, and a total of CFA 943.500.675 have been invested in the local community without including the multiplier effects and over 45,000 people have been employed from over 200 villages.
In addition there was a field visit to see some of the PASR-built community roads first hand. The students were able to visit the building sites and were explained the technical aspects as well as the socio-economic side.
Overall these activities enabled civil engineering students to get some first hand knowledge and experience on not only the Danish- Beninese cooperation in infrastructure but also to appreciate labour-based methods and the importance of maintenance as one of the alternatives to conventional approaches.
Approximately 50 sets of documents have been distributed at these three institutions.
For more information on these activities or on DANIDA's activities in Benin please contact:
Mrs Birte Torp Pedersen, Transport advisor at DANIDA
birtor (at) um.dk
Or Mr :
Dr. Jean Claude TAKPA, Transport economist and sector chief of DANIDA's Transport programmes in Benin
jeatak (at) um.dk
Placide BADJI, Transport Economist
badjiplacide (at) yahoo.fr