SNV celebrates 50 years of sustained developmental partnership in Benin (1970-2020)

Happy 50th!

For over 50 years, SNV Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV), has consistently and collaboratively been introducing improvements that last in the day-to-day lives of people living in Benin. Last 3 June 2021, SNV held its 50th anniversary celebration in Benin. Key highlights of the celebration and video testimonies are presented below.

Representing SNV in the Sahel region for 16 years, SNV in Benin Country Director Jeanette de Regt opened the ceremony by sharing some tangible changes resulting from SNV's presence in the region in general, and in Benin in particular. In reflecting back on SNV’s work, Jeanette described SNV’s contributions in the water and sanitation sector (e.g., latrine-building), energy (e.g., creation of innovative enterprises), and in agriculture (e.g., improvement of farmers’ income). Listen to Jeanette describe how direct results from SNV’s development projects contributed to systems change.

Her Excellency Madam To Tjoelker-Kleve, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Benin, praised SNV’s and SNVers’ 50 years of support to Beninese populations, and their many contributions in the areas of hydraulics (WASH/IWRM), well-being, local governance, and improvements in living conditions and infrastructure. Going forward, HE Tjoelker-Kleve encouraged SNV to continue focusing on its three main strengths: its staff, community development (local approach), and inclusive approaches (gender equality and social inclusion).

William Comlan, representative of the Government of Benin’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and Director of Cabinet, recalled in his speech that for more than fifty years SNV has been and remains an important partner for Benin. According to him, SNV successfully tested approaches and possible development solutions with the government and local communities, capitalised on experiences in several fields, and contributed to strengthening the capacity of grassroots organisations. Mr Comlan urged partners to maintain their confidence in SNV and finance SNV development projects in support of government efforts to make Benin a prosperous country. In concluding his speech, he said: ‘What characterises SNV is efficiency and results.’

Esteemed SNV in Benin guests during the 50th celebration

[From left]: Sylvia Hartleif (European Union), William Comlan (Government of Benin), Jeanette de Regt (SNV in Benin), and Antonie de Kemp (Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands)

SNV CEO Simon O’Connell presented SNV’s systems change outlook. Simon explained that ‘SNV is increasingly focusing its efforts in contributing to systems change and sustainable progress on a larger scale by mobilising additional financial networks and reviving the markets.’ He added, ‘Development assistance can be a catalyst for transformational change, but it is not enough on its own. It will also require contributions from governments and all partners.’ He stressed that ‘the change of rules and norms, specifically with regard to the inclusion of women and young people in all aspects of life and socioeconomic activities – as shown for example by our work for the empowerment of women in Sahel and Benin – we now know that especially in the face of this pandemic, it is, more than ever, necessary to modify systems on a large scale in order to build better.’

Simon O’Connell’s intervention gave way to an expert panel discussion on systems change, the theme of SNV in Benin’s 50th year anniversary. Following the exchanges, attendees were treated to Burkinabe artist Nael Melerd’s creative interpretation and expression of systems change, likened to a ‘caterpillar that has turned into a butterfly spreading its wings.’

The celebrations continued with a presentation of the key moments of SNV in Benin’s evolution, given by Edouard Fagnon, Head of Renewable Energies sector. Taking the audience back to SNV’s historical beginnings, which started with the placement of technical assistants, Edouard explained that SNV’s work in Benin expanded through the decades. See video presentation of SNV in Benin's activities between 2011 and 2019.

Prepared by: Margot Piquet, PME Advisor, SNV in Benin

More testimonies here