AWEPA and the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD) joined forces formally in 2011 in a partnership aimed to strengthen political parties, parliaments and the party-parliament nexus in Benin. The overall objective is to contribute to the development of pluralistic democratic societies through a participatory decision-making process grounded on a solid multiparty system and the work of a strong parliament. The partnership between AWEPA and NIMD, established in 2011, rests on the ambition to link two streams of democracy support, targeting:
- Democratic structure and procedural reform through parliamentary capacity building;
- Political culture and behavioural change through political party support.
The programme follows a multiparty and non-partisan approach and is based on the principles of national ownership, flexibility and gender equality.
The overall goal of the programme is to contribute to the development and consolidation of a democratic pluralist society based on participative decision-making processes rooted in a solid multiparty system and a strong parliament.
A set of actions has been planned within three distinct intervention areas that address the political system of Benin as a whole:
- Facilitation of a forum for discussion between MPs and political parties with the expected outcome of starting a functioning dialogue between Beninese key politicians;
- Capacity building for MPs, parliamentary staff, politicians and young political actors through skills training on relevant issues;
- Enhanced interaction between the political and civil society through the organisation of multiple public hearings on a theme related to multiparty dialogue and training.
Example of activities
AWEPA organised an induction seminar for the recently elected Members of the 7th Parliament on 2-3 November 2015. The key objectives of this seminar were to provide the recently elected Members of the Beninese Parliament with the knowledge required to settle into and function optimally in the legislature; understand its processes; carry out their representative function; and deliver work in committees efficiently and effectively.
AWEPA and NIMD were also successful in setting up a pilot School of Politics, which will continue to operate as a fully-fledged body from 2016 onwards. Following a selection process, about 40 young Beninese people from various political parties and civil society organisations attended two sessions of political training as well as monthly informal meeting, known as “Cafés Politiques”.
The cooperation between AWEPA, NIMD and the National Assembly of Benin has seen success, despite challenges relating to the parliamentary elections held in May. Good progress has been noted regarding the impact of capacity building activities on both Parliament (MPs and staff) and political parties (by training young talented members through the School of Politics).
Parliamentary outreach visits are also an important aspect of AWEPA’s programme in Benin. This is a major focus under the upcoming Strategic Partnership Programme (2016-2020) on interactions between political actors and civil society. In addition, AWEPA and NIMD will continue to build capacity in the Parliament and political parties, and will initiate a multi-stakeholder dialogue process on democratic reforms.
This programme is part of the ‘Lobby and Advocacy’ programme of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is implemented in cooperation with NIMD. More on the Strategic Partnership with the Ministry: www.awepa.org/strategic partnership.