Written by Oréaul Houedji, Le BACAR, Benin
In Benin, decentralised government was established in 2003 with the first set of municipal and mutual elections. This was a major break from the strong centralisation of power under previous political regimes that had ruled after independence from France in 1960. This change has created major repercussions on governance at the local level.
Le BACAR, is a local NGO based in the north of Benin, working in community development to improve the status of women by supporting them to improve their welfare with do-it-yourself strategies.
At Le BACAR, we have a mission to contribute to the improvement of living conditions of women and children by promoting health and agricultural development, based on human rights, the protection of the environment and good governance.
In 2001, we began organising the large annual fair of Savalou, bringing together a hundred women’s groups each year.
In 2006 we conducted community-based problem analysis and prioritisation exercises in 114 villages. The issues of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) were recurrent and the need for advocacy at the local, grassroots level was consistently identified. Subsequently, we have developed a stronger commitment to SRHR, with the participation of women’s groups.
Advocating for increased budget allocation should be structured and well-organised.
It can support:
Budget advocacy allows your organisation to be involved in how the government allocates and spends its resources and how these resources meet the needs of different population groups. Budget advocacy for health includes strategic communications and campaigning, to change the way public resources are used in the delivery of health services.
At the local level, this often involves the use of social mobilisation of communities to drive change at the most decentralised levels – linking citizens with policy making via local elected representatives.
In turn, this can boost national advocacy by offering examples and case studies that can be adopted at the national level.
We conducted a situation analysis as a prelude to the development of the Community Development Plan in the local authorities of Savalou and Bante.
We successfully advocated for the inclusion of a budget line for family planning of CFA100,000.
We established a consultation framework at the city level for women’s empowerment in Savalou and Bante, to ensure gender-sensitive policies and budgets and monitoring of commitments.
Our advocacy meetings with the local council in Bante led to the creation of a direct budget line for family planning.
Local level advocacy is a very powerful strategy as:
are more accessible than decision-makers at the national level, both in terms of calendars and costs
feel more accountable towards their constituents and this drives them to take action
I am Oréaul Houedji, gender specialist and project manager. I have 10 years of experience in advocacy for youth and adolescent SRHR, especially relating to government budget allocation.
At Le BACAR we successfully advocated for the establishment of a dedicated budget line for family planning in the 2017 local budget.