Distance at the signature but not in the matter – Contract ceremony in Corona times
News from 2020-06-26 / KfW Development Bank
Compared to its neighboring countries, Benin is taking a special path in the fight against COVID-19. While Nigeria has long imposed a curfew, the Beninese government wants to avoid it. A European-style "shutdown" would have dramatic consequences for the poor population. So far, the response has been mainly directed at the southern, densely populated part of the country and planned and implemented by central government authorities. Now the government will additionally enable nationwide, decentralised responses to the pandemic and its consequences. Financed by German Financial Cooperation, the municipalities will translate the national COVID-19 strategy into local measures and implement them on the ground – a challenge for the municipal representatives newly elected in mid-May.
On 12 June the Beninese partners and KfW signed the financing agreement and the implementation agreements to support the Beninese municipalities in containing the pandemic. The funds will be made available to the municipalities at the end of June. Planned measures include the improvement of hygiene conditions in the communities, including the rapid rehabilitation of water connections, conversion and equipment of health centres, support for health services, food security activities and information campaigns. In March – only two weeks after the first Covid 19 case in Benin became known – KfW submitted a proposal to the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) on how to extend the financing for the "Fond d'Appui pour le Développement des Communes (FADeC)" in Benin in order to include anti-COVID-19 measures. Thanks to accelerated procedures, only three months will pass from the idea to the first disbursement. From the total of EUR 10 million in committed funds, an initial EUR 6 million will be used for immediate municipal COVID-19 measures. An increase is under preparation.
There is a long-term cooperation with the FADeC within the framework of Financial Cooperation. The financing mechanism enables the Government of Benin to provide all Beninese towns and municipalities with substantial financial resources within a few days - in this case for prevention and disease control measures. The disbursement of the funds follows fixed procedures and is subject to annual audits. The municipalities also receive support for improved management of local infrastructure and their finances. Since the creation of the Municipal Fund in 2007, approximately EUR 516 million have been made available to the municipalities to date, more than 10% of which is provided by KfW on behalf of BMZ. Part of the COVID-19 measures under FADeC are implemented through labour-intensive cash-for-work approaches in order to create income opportunities for the poor population and thus at least partially cushion the serious economic consequences of the pandemic at municipal level.