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The P20 in Benin: From consultation to consensus: Chapter 1

Executive summary

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Executive summary

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set an ambitious agenda for change. In 2015 countries committed to end poverty in all its forms everywhere, to leave no one behind and to reach the furthest behind first. Although progress has been made at an aggregate level, the income gap[1] between the poorest 20% of people and everyone else has been widening, both globally and in most countries. People are being left behind – excluded from progress as a result of their poverty, location or aspects of their identity that contribute to their marginalisation. Leaving no one behind requires a different way of thinking and a radical approach to improving data and evidence for all countries – one based on collecting and analysing disaggregated data, and that looks at people, not averages, to understand the characteristics of those groups and individuals who are at risk of being left behind. It will also require ensuring that everyone is counted in official data − especially those who are less likely to be counted in household surveys, censuses and administrative data.

The P20 approach[2] focuses on a small number of indicators linked to the SDGs to assess whether the people in the poorest 20% of the population (the P20) are being included in progress. To leave no one behind, the progress of the P20 needs to be fast enough to narrow the gap between them and everyone else. The approach highlights the importance of disaggregation by wealth quintile, gender, geography, age and disability to track the inclusion of different groups.

The governments of Switzerland and Benin have been working with Development Initiatives (DI) to apply the P20 approach, examining the extent to which the poorest 20% of people are included in progress in their own countries. They shared initial lessons, challenges[3] and experiences at a High-Level Political Forum side event,[4] in 2018.

To build on this momentum, the Ministry of Planning and Development with support from the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, the Maison de la Société Civile (MdSC), and DI brought together relevant stakeholders in Benin at a high-level roundtable and technical workshop in Cotonou in November 2019. The technical workshop included participation from civil society organisations, several ministries, technical and financial partners, and academia. Three ministers, senior representatives from the United Nations system, local government and civil society took part. They discussed current trends among the P20 in Benin, with a focus on the departments of Alibori and Borgou and how the commitment to leave no one behind could be operationalised at both national and subnational levels. Key findings and recommendations have been integrated into this report and are also attached in Appendix 3.

This report is not meant to provide a comprehensive view of the wellbeing of the P20 in each of the 77 communes, or in each sector. Rather, this report is meant to start a dialogue about the potential of the P20 approach drawing on a subset of issues and a preliminary discussion of how the P20 approach might be applied at a subnational level.

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Key findings

While there have been improvements in average household consumption, nutrition, birth registration and other sectors in Benin, the gap between the P20 and the rest of the population is growing. The latest data indicates that the average per capita income for Benin’s P20 decreased to almost half their 2011 level by 2015, dropping from $0.82 per day to $0.44 per day.[5] The P20 approach also proved to be a useful framework to identifying challenges and opportunities at a subnational level and within specific sectors. Discussions with local government and civil society in Alibori and Borgou Departments on the planning and allocation of resources showed that the P20 approach provides a useful framework for guiding conversations to ensure that the impact policies and interventions have on the P20 is considered – even if data analysis remains a challenge in those contexts.

There are promising efforts to improve data, count missing populations and provide social safety nets that could substantially improve the lives of populations at risk of being left behind. Digitising civil registration systems and the development of the Assurance pour le Renforcement du Capital Humain (ARCH) system of social safety nets are two major policy areas touching on key challenges for the P20.

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Recommendations

In order to meet the commitment to leave no one behind by 2030, several actions could help accelerate P20 progress in Benin in three key areas:

  • Sharing policy responses and learning across government departments and together with stakeholders by regular consultations at national and subnational levels on implementing leaving no one behind.
  • Supporting a robust, independent national statistical system to provide and share better statistics and data.
  • Addressing data gaps in official and unofficial sources, with a particular focus on data related to being left behind.

Concrete recommendations to enable key stakeholders to take these actions forward are outlined below:

For the Ministry of Planning and Development:

  • Create a multi-stakeholder thematic grouping to better understand the challenges faced by the P20 in Benin and share policy responses and learning.
  • Increase Institut Nationale de la Statistique et de l’Analyse Economique’s (INSAE’s) independence while also focusing on funding sustainable data systems.
  • Prioritise public investments in the health and education sectors for the poorest communities and citizens.

For local governments:

  • Invest in fully digitised civil registration systems with appropriate training for staff.
  • Apply the P20 approach for the Plan de Developpement Communal and other planning processes.

For INSAE:

  • Apply the P20 approach in publications and strengthen availability of relevant microdata and administrative data for analysis.
  • Accompany sectoral ministries in strengthening their administrative data management systems.
  • Add Washington Group short set questions on disability to major surveys and censuses.

For civil society:

  • Develop analytical capacity and incorporate the P20 approach in advocacy work.
  • Apply the P20 approach to work conducted by organisations as possible.

For technical and financial partners:

  • Apply the P20 approach internally, exploring the extent to which efforts are promoting the interests of the P20.
  • Support the development of a robust, independent national statistical system, administrative data systems, and human resources for INSAE.

DI will seek to provide support as possible with the following stakeholders to implement these recommendations and to further explore other cross-cutting issues discussed in this report.

Notes

  • 5

    Development Initiatives has calculated this data drawing on the World Bank PovcalNet data retrieved January 2020. Currencies are expressed in 2011 $ PPP.

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