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Benin and the World Bank Work Together to Put a Stop to Urban Flooding

May 6, 2015


  • The World Bank is supporting Beninese municipalities as they work to improve sanitation conditions in the cities of Cotonou, Abomey-Calavi, Ouidah, Porto-Novo, and Sèmè-Podji.
  • These joint efforts will create better living conditions for 1,426,000 beneficiaries and will reduce by 30% the number of households vulnerable to flooding.
  • Benin’s local governments are also benefiting from training and technical assistance that will help boost disaster preparedness.

COTONOU, May 6, 2015 —The fear of reliving the devastation caused by the 2010 floods is slowly dissipating, becoming merely a bad dream for the residents of Cotonou, Benin’s economic capital, and those of several other big cities.

“Rainy seasons were trying times for us, especially the 2010 floods. We had to use boats to run our errands downtown and to access our homes, we were practically living in water!” exclaimed a resident of Fifadji, one of Cotonou’s most flood-prone neighborhoods.  

" Thanks to the early warning system and a simulation of flood risks, we were able to identify and protect the most vulnerable villages. This year’s floods resulted in far less damage and no loss of life "

César Agbossaga

Director General of the National Agency for Civil Protection


Following the completion of the second Decentralized City Management Project , a World Bank financed projet, the Emergency Urban Environment Project (EUEP) picked up where the project left off in 2011 with the goal of improving sanitation conditions, limiting the impact of floods, and building the institutional capacity of development actors. The improvements initiated by both projects are changing the urban landscape across the country.

“The work currently underway is enabling us to implement long-term solutions to sanitation problems in our municipalities and allows us to provide our people with a healthy environment. It also helps us better manage the effects of floods and other natural disasters,” said Marc Didier Dubogan, Cotonou’s Director of Technical Services.

For example, in Cotonou’s Fifadji neighborhood, a new bridge is being built six meters above a flood barrier to ensure a year-round traffic flow of more than 20,000 vehicles and thousands of pedestrians and cyclists. A main thoroughfare of the capital, this road was frequently closed off during the rainy season due to high flood waters.

The EUEP is also having an impact on other neighborhoods of Cotonou. The elevation of a number of main thoroughfares, such as that of the Calvaire junction in the Fidjrossè neighborhood and a section of the Fidjrossè/Godomé segment near the Salem pharmacy, will solve issues of inaccessibility for thousands of residents during the rainy season.  The same is true of construction works that are building and calibrating 8.57 km of sewage lines.

Overall, the project will help reduce the number of flood-prone households by 30% in targeted municipalities and will benefit 1,426,000 people, 52% of whom are women.

Apart from Cotonou, the EUEP is working to improve sanitation in the cities of Abomey-Calavi, Ouidah, Porto-Novo, and Sèmè-Podji. Significant strides have been made to improve the collection, transport, and disposal of solid waste through the construction of 40 garbage collection points and two garbage transfer stations. Works funded by the project also paved the 5 km access road leading to the Ouèssè (Ouidah) dumpsite, and dug a new cell at the sanitary landfill in the same commune. A feasibility study was conducted to explore the possibilities of building a new sanitary landfill in Abomey-Calavi.

In addition, the project is addressing the issue of wastewater management, particularly as it pertains to strengthening Benin’s institutional capacity to develop wastewater master plans and implement a pilot project for improving wastewater infrastructure.

Flood Prevention

Strengthening disaster preparedness at an institutional level is critical to preventing recurrent floods in Benin. The EUEP is dedicated to assisting national coordination entities and local governments in the optimal use of technical flood risk information. This entails the establishment of an early warning system and efforts to raise awareness about the importance of effective flood management among all the actors involved.

Working with local governments to integrate flood risk management into urban planning, the project has helped establish an operational contingency plan in 21 of the most vulnerable communes in the country to facilitate a coordinated emergency response in the event of a natural disaster. A number of municipalities have already been equipped with 12 pick-up trucks and 38 motorbikes that will boost their capacity to intervene and maintain community infrastructure.

“Thanks to the early warning system and a simulation of flood risks, we were able to identify and protect the most vulnerable villages. This year’s floods resulted in far less damage and no loss of life,” said César Agbossaga, Director General of the National Agency for Civil Protection.

Initial World Bank Group financing for the EUEP stood at $50 million (25 billion francs CFA).  In 2014, the project received an additional financing of $6.4 million.  A second additional financing of $40 million is being prepared to allow the country to meet other sanitation needs indicated by beneficiary cities.