Kenya and Ghana wing mission report to Ouémé Delta, Cotonou, Benin (3-6 April 2017)

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The Ghana and Kenya Delta Alliance Wing coordinators (Ken Kinney and Peter Odhengo) and Deltares (Cees van de Guchte and Victor Langenberg) went on a mission to Cotonou, Benin (3-6 April, 2017). During the mission several consultative and dialogue meetings were organised and facilitated by BEES (Benin Environment and Education Society) and PNE (Partenariat National de l’Eau du Bénin). The latter being the national antenna under GWP - West Africa (Global Water Partnership).

Objectives of the mission
The main objective of the mission was to discuss with key Delta stakeholders (NGO, academia, government) preparatory arrangements for creating a plan of action to set up a new Benin wing under the Delta alliance for the sustainable management of initially the Ouémé Delta, create national and international stakeholder support and strengthen the cooperation between the Delta Alliance wings and working groups in West and East Africa as of 2017. More importantly to:

  1. Create a Joint view with key players on the status and future developments of the Ouéme delta
  2. Identify institutions, organisational structures, focal points and experts, national and local which are relevant in the initiation, establishment and further strengthening of a DA Benin wing
  3. Present the DA approach to key institutes and ignite interest to participate under the South-South DA cooperation
  4. Initiate the DA Benin Wing establishment process

The Oueme Delta at Cotonou, Benin
The Ouémé delta is the most important delta system in Benin. This delta is sustained by two rivers (Ouémé and Sô), and includes a lake, a lagoon and a channel to the sea. The delta is classified as a Ramsar site. The Delta complex is facing challenges due to population pressure, a lack of integrated and adaptive management, and climate change. Now, over a million persons live in and around Cotonou and the density of the population in the lower delta is high. Many small fishing villages are set on piles or newly acclaimed land in the delta. Main pressures in the Ouémé delta are inappropriate space occupation, overexploitation of the resources, flooding, coastal erosion and pollution. In particular overfishing, sand mining and the entering of untreated industrial and city wastes deteriorate the delta system further at an alarming rate. The Delta system is still largely unregulated and unprotected. 
More details can be found in the Delta Alliance and GWP discussion paper.
The mission intended to hold a Delta reconnaissance and a series of meetings to discuss at both national and local levels the relevance and the need of the establishment of a Delta Alliance Benin Wing for the sustainable management of the Ouémé Delta and to determine the prerequisites for the establishment of the Benin Wing.

Main results

  • The ambitions and the intentions of the DA and the wing coordinators from Ghana and Kenya where very well received by Benin stakeholders. Now, with a first detailed overview of relevant Public and private parties (NGOs, knowledge institutes, agencies and central structures), and the acknowledged support from DG-water and several government advisors we agreed to initiate the creation of a DA Benin wing that will help to improve on the dilapidated Ouémé delta state
  • The organisations BEES (overall coordinator) and PNE (deputy) agreed in setting up a support secretariat first and then start setting up the DA Benin wing
  • The award winning Tana-Lamu delta process approach of Kenya in combining SEIA-framing, Smart Land Use Planning and IWRM for Adaptive Delta management and monitoring is preferred for developing further in and around the Ouémé delta. More info on Tana delta in: Bucx, T., W. van Driel, H. de Boer, S. Graas, V.T. Langenberg, M. Marchand and C. Van de Guchte. 2014: Comparative assessment of the vulnerability and resilience of deltas – extended version with 14 deltas - synthesis report. Delta.  Alliance report number 7. Delta Alliance International, Delft-Wageningen, The Netherlands.
  • All public and private partners agreed that immediate attention need to be given to the fisheries management practices and address the detrimental “AKADJA” fishing practices in delta Ouémé. (This notion has meanwhile also received support by the NWP (Netherlands) and EKN (Cotonou)
  • Furthermore, the parties agreed that it is of outmost importance to combine the delta wing formation with private sector involvement. Several national and international PS networks as well as chambers of commerce from Netherlands, Ghana, Kenya and Benin where identified and these will be approached by the DA wing coordinators
  • The parties also discussed the feasibility of setting up an overarching Africa supra wing entity, to be sure that African deltas are firmly represented within the DA and easing knowledge sharing. In this context, 6 new deltas more where identified that need to come under the attention of the DA network and expertise

Conclusions and follow up

  •  Bees and PNE will start to setup the DA Benin wing, its secretariat, and interim committee as of June.
  • Bees and PNE will draft an action plan and liaise with the Ghana and Kenya Wing coordinators and Deltares before implementation. The action plan contains a shortlist of related delta activities that together with the identified expertise and experience can further develop the DA wing formation process.
  • Under the South-South cooperation, the African DA wings will support Benin with the Buy-inn process of Decision makers, key policy makers, chiefs, and mayors. A communication channel will be opened to commence creating awareness at policy level, engage media. Arrange “breakfast meetings” and media exposure along the concepts (and lessons learned) of the Kenya wing
  • The Benin wing intends to adopt a larger vision of the delta, explicitly NOT prepare a delta-plan, but adopt the larger carried vision, framing, schematics, and aggregated knowledge towards appropriate delta policy making
  • BEES and PNE, with support of INE/ AQUAGIR, agreed to prepare an Ouémé delta status report. DA secretariat will provide guidelines in formats, analyses and the African wings provide help with the standards and framing 


  • With support of the African wings and Deltares and TU Delft, Michael Osei Nkrumah and his team of the MDF-Ghana intend to organise a South-South DA meeting in Ghana (October 2017)
  • DA Kenya wing offered to co-organise a sub-Saharan DA meeting in Nairobi (December 2017). Intention is to involve new identified Delta countries in Africa sub-Saharan. Runner-ups: SAf-Limpopo, Senegal-Saloum, Tanzania-Malagarasi, Botswana-Okavango, Ivory coast- San Pedro, DRC-Congo

For further information you can contact: Cees van de Guchte, Deltares

Read more
Full mission report (pdf)

Delta Alliance Secretary
Monday 17 July 2017
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