The advent of democracy in Benin in 1990 laid the foundations for participatory governance that involves civil society at the level of the constitution. The State of Benin recognises CSOs as non-state actors playing a critical role for development. It also recognizes its duty of accountability and transparency towards citizens. Freedom of association and expression is therefore reaffirmed and supervised in order to promote the development of civil society and a better contribution to development objectives at the national level.
As a stakeholder in international agreements, civil society is taken into account in the national development agenda. The 2016-2021 Government Action Program (PAG) clearly distinguishes civil society as a component that must participate in the mechanism for monitoring and evaluating public governance. In the field of monitoring and evaluation of public policies, the participation of CSOs is framed by the National Evaluation Policy (NEP) 2012-2021 that underlines the need for the participation and involvement of civil society in the monitoring and evaluation activities of public policies.
As such, civil societies are actors in the Institutional Framework for the Evaluation of Public Policies and are represented within the National Evaluation Council – the highest body at the national level responsible for advising the Government in terms of monitoring and evaluation of public policies and ensuring compliance with norms and standards in the field.
The synergy between state actors and civil society for monitoring and evaluation of public policies can contribute to improving the performance of those in government. Although the monitoring and evaluation activities of public policies practiced by the two actors are different in their approaches, they are complementary and mutually nourish each other for a better efficiency of public action.
In Benin, the NEP defines the role and place of civil society in the national evaluation system. The NEP stipulates that civil society organisations must be involved in the conduct of evaluations, be consulted during the process of design and contribute to the reliability of the evaluation work through their knowledge and expertise in the fields concerned.
As in many African countries, CSOs play a crucial role in improving the production and use of evaluation data. Therefore, a framework for sharing and learning between governments and CSOs should make it possible to strengthen the implementation, sustainability and impactof national evaluation systems (NES), thus contributing to the achievement of one of the main objectives of Twende Mbele. It is within this framework that the Twende Mbele program developed the project “Strengthening the participation of civil society organizations (CSOs) in National Evaluation Systems”.
As Benin begins to pilot activities aimed at strengthening this collaboration, a diagnostic study was undertaken in 2021.
Objectives of the Study
The general objective of this study is to carry out an inventory of collaboration between the government and CSOs in terms of monitoring and evaluation and to propose the modalities and strategy for better collaboration in the future. Specifically, it will be:
- identify current practices in Benin on how civil society works with government in using M&E to strengthen government performance;
- define a model of collaboration between the State and CSOs ;
- identify areas where collaboration between the state and CSOs would improve government performance and / or accountability;
- to make recommendations for strengthening the participation of CSOs in Benin’s NES, and strengthening the government’s capacity to better use the evidence produced by CSOs in reform processes and / or in the implementation of policies.
CSO Monitoring of Public Policies in Benin
The monitoring and evaluation of public policies by civil society take the form of citizen monitoring often called Citizen Control of Public Action (CCAP). These are initiatives taken by CSOs to monitor and evaluate public action. The CCAP draws its foundation from the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789 which stipulates in its article 14 that “all citizens have the right to ascertain for themselves or through their representatives, the necessity of the public contribution and to monitor its use”. The practice of CCAP makes it possible to strengthen the participation of citizens in the management of public affairs, to promote the accountability of those in power and to contribute to the effectiveness of public action.
Strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for collaboration
The environment of collaboration between the State and CSOs in Benin presents several strengths that can foster collaboration, this includes:
- The existence of a regulatory and legal framework which forms and frames the collaboration between the State and CSOs. Additionally,
- the practice of monitoring and evaluating public policies is developed both on the part of the State and on the side of CSOs.
However, the weaknesses of collaboration between the State and CSOs in Benin relate to:
- predisposition of certain State institutions to collaborate with CSOs. The latter have not yet become aware of the challenges associated with such a collaboration.
- the difficulties in accessing information on public governance
- the existence of international agreements that recommend that governments involve civil society in public governance is a factor that CSOs can refer to for advocacy and lobbying.
- The support of development partners for civil society is a factor which should also be underlined.
- the establishment of an institutional mechanism for collaboration in the sectors of water, energy, health and education like the agricultural sector with the PASCiB and the MAEP.
Model of Collaboration Between the State and CSOS
Collaboration between the state and civil society organisations requires an a systematic approach and methodology. From the successful experience of the collaboration between MALF and PASCIB, as well as that of the Social Change Benin, PASCIB and WANEP consortium, five determinants of collaboration emerge:
- Establishment of inclusive and continuous dialogue between state and non-state actors;
- Harmonization of visions and development approaches;
- Awareness of the importance of the collaboration between the State and CSOs;
- Inclusive participation of NSA in the management of public policies;
- Formalization of the collaboration.
Utilising the lessons from successful partnerships, and understanding the factors for success, BEPPAAG is leading a pilot project with the Education Sector in 2022. The aim of this project will be create a more sustainable collaborative relationship for M&E using new tools for collaboration on evaluations.