Benin to ratify treaty for joint management of the Mono River Basin

31 May 2024 by The Water Diplomat

The government of Benin has announced its intention to ratify the treaty for the joint management of the Mono River bssin shared by Togo and Benin. The Mono River rises north east of Sokodé in Togo and flows through eastern Togo for some 400 km in a southerly direction, draining a basin of some 20,000 km² and whose waters impact on teh livelihoods of some 3 million people.  For the lower part of its course, the river forms the national border with Benin and as such is a transboundary river basin.

A process has been underway for almost a decade towards the creation of a legal framework as well as the establishment of River Basin Organisation assigned with responsibilities for the joint management of the waters of the basin. In the context of IUCN's Building River Dialogues and Governance (BRIDGE) programme, three regional workshops have been held to clarify the importance of transboudary hydrodiplomacy and the contents of River Basin Agreements. 

The process has been under discussion for some time. On December 31st, 2014, the treaty had been signed between (but not ratified by) the two countries to establish a joint management framework for the river as well as for the creation of a planning and management authority. The tasks of this organization is to ensure the sustainable management of the Mono basin through integrated, equitable and collabortive d management of the water resources and the environment to enable the reasonable and equitable use of water resources across different categories of demand: agro-pastoral activities and agriculture (irrigation for corn, cassava, rice and cocoa crops), access to domestic water supplies, industrial use, the production of hydropower, and the conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity.

Mr Adjama, a representative of the government of Benin, speaking at a meeting of the Mono Basin Authority, stated on the 26th of January 2024 that  this responds to a real need in the region and that: “According to the African Development Bank, only 10 to 19 billion dollars are invested in water security out of the 64 billion dollars of investment that should be put in place, every year in Africa. This trend, which could compromise peace and the sustainable development of our societies if not reversed, is one of the challenges facing the development of the people of the Mono basin. This is why, today, it is essential to put in place innovative instruments to not only master the challenges linked to financing and knowledge, but also to enhance the value of water resources in the Mono, in the context of climate change”.

On April 17, 2024, the final step in a 10-year process, a decree was adopted by the Beninese Council of Ministers authorizing ratification by the National Assembly of the official creation of the Mono River Basin Authority (ABM). The ratification of the agreement had already taken place by the parliament of Togo on May 8th, 2023.

Although the official raitification of the agreement is only taking place now, cooperation has been underway for some time, with the establishment of the executive board of the Mono Basin Authority in October 2019 and the adoption by a joint Ministerial Council of a new River Basin Management Strategy for the periond from 2023-2027. Currently the Authority’s  priorities for the coming years are to strengthen the organization's governance and operating framework, develop partnerships with national, regional and international players so that the ABM takes its rightful place in the landscape of basin management organizations, and finally, to establish the Mono Basin Observatory which will provide the evidence base for the decision making process.