By Linda Shaffer (Posted: March 26, 2009)
More than 35 participants gathered in Cotonou last week for the official launch of TAI –Benin. The three-day workshop opened with remarks from Claudia Amegankpoue, Eco-Ecolo; Théophile Worou, Ministry of the Environment and Protection of Nature; Sophie Kutegeka, Advocates Coalition for Environment and Development and Linda Shaffer, World Resources Institute.
The workshop was led by Augustine Njamnshi, Bioresources Development and Conservation Programme-Cameroon and Coordinator for TAI activities in West Africa and Sophie Kutegeka. The workshop consisted of an overview of The Access Initiative and in-depth presentation of the methodology. Participants discussed ideas for case studies to evaluate access to information, public participation, justice and capacity in Benin. A separate session was devoted to access rights among impoverished communities.
Participants represented an impressive number of civil society organizations including Social Watch, Nature Tropicale, Victory Way, CEBEDES (Benin Centre for the Environment and the Economic and Social Development), and many others. Also present were members of the Benin government and representatives from national universities.
The workshop received a lot of media attention including full articles in two newspapers, La Nation and Notre Temps, a radio interview with Claudia Amegankpoue and Augustine Njamnshi, and a segment on the evening television news. The TAI coalition hopes this attention will help raise the profile of The Access Initiative in Benin and generate greater awareness of access rights in general.