From 11 to 16 October 2023, a delegation made up of several members of the Bureau and Board of Directors of Acting for Life (AFL) travelled to Benin to monitor the NGO’s projects there. Jean-Cyril SPINETTA, President of the NGO, and Philippe CALAVIA, Treasurer, were accompanied by two new members of the Association’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors: Florence PARLY and Jean-Marie BOCKEL. The Director, Matthieu DE BÉNAZÉ, and part of AFL’s operational team were also present.

During the trip, multiple visits were organised with local partners and beneficiaries.

As close as possible to the realities on the ground

During the trip, the delegation visited two processing units organised by our partner Hortitechs Développement. Firstly, a unit supported by the DISTRI’SOLIDAIRE project divided into two locations: one building for food processing, and one for the storage and sale of goods. Acting for Life’s President Jean-Cyril Spinetta took the opportunity to talk to Edgar Deguenon, Coordinator of Hortitechs Développement, about the challenges facing these units. Several transformers were also able to testify to the support received by the project teams.

A visit was paid to Adélaïde Laourou, a key figure in Dassa-Zoumé and Managing Director of AGBARA. She presented a host of local products to the AFL teams, mainly cashews and juices produced in her processing unit. Later, a meeting was also organised with a young man trained in poultry farming/breeding under the TERSAA programme.

Finally, our Beninese partner, GIC, showed us around its distribution plant. These visits enabled us to see the relevance and quality of the projects implemented.

Discussion workshop with Acting for Life’s partners in Dassa-Zoumé

Welcomed in Dassa by Denis Ayéna, Director of GIC, the delegation participated in one of the highlights of the mission. A discussion workshop bringing together 16 partners from Benin, Togo and Burkina Faso, from eight different NGOs. It was an opportunity for members to gain a better understanding of the challenges facing the region. The event began with a speech by Jean-Cyril Spinetta, President of Acting for Life. AFL’s three areas of activity were reviewed, with a view to continuing to improve the effectiveness of its projects. In particular, it was mentioned that the Beninese government has expressed its desire to develop vocational training. The MADE project intends to do so in the departments of Atacora and Donga.

There was unanimous agreement that it is important for AFL and its partners to do even more to ensure that girls and women and their needs are taken into account within our projects. It is essential that the power of women continues to be strengthened. This is why Acting for Life is relentlessly pursuing the dual objective of reducing gender inequalities and strengthening the economic impact of its projects through greater inclusion of the women who contribute to or benefit from them.

Official meetings held during the mission

The trip was also an opportunity for the delegation to meet Mr Marc Vizy, the French Ambassador in Benin, and discuss ongoing projects financed by AFD, as well as the challenges of livestock mobility, one of Acting for Life’s three emblematic themes. AFL representatives also met European Union Ambassador Sylvia Hartleif to discuss regional/national programmes.

The delegation also met Mrs Véronique Tognifodé, Minister for Social Action and Microfinance, Mr Ali Ouattara, Resident of the World Food Programme (WFP) in Benin, and Mr Raymond Adjakpa Abile, Secretary General of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The aim was to present the association and its programmes, as well as to discuss possible partnerships.

In another context, AFL had the honour of being welcomed by the King of Dassa-Zoumé during a courtesy visit.