Development Strategy for Greater Cotonou



Approval Date
Actual Completion Date
Proposal Focus
Core Focus
Secondary Cities
Country Type
Lesson Learned for Cities Alliance Members and Partners
The diagnostic study enabled local officials and population of the city to deepen their knowledge about strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities of the city development. This diagnosis provided an opportunity to evaluate planning policies, urban management and urban governance. It also presents the trend of short and medium term. The study gives the orientation and good proposals for a better functioning of the urban system. It was possible to assess and prioritize the needs of the community through the strategy. The participatory approach gave the opportunity of arranging meetings and consultation between populations, civil society, municipal councils, responsible government officials, local decision makers.


The city of Cotonou dominates the urban landscape of Benin because of its demographic and economic prominence. Although Cotonou is not a political capital of Benin, it is an important national administrative center and the country’s main hub of activities. Cotonou’s greater urban area which includes the cities of Cotonou, Abomey-Calavi and Semè-Kpodji forms the country’s largest economic centre. With urban growth now presenting serious challenges to the cities, this project aims to undertake a CDS to develop a shared vision for sustainable development of Cotonou with all relevant actors.
The overall objective of the grant is to establish a partnership between Cities Alliance, the conurbation of Greater Cotonou and the Government of Benin in order to formulate the urban development strategy for Cotonou and its environs, according to the following steps. 1) Establish a collaborative mechanism that takes into account the concerns, recommendations and contributions of all actors including civil society and private sector 2) Identify the needs of actors and beneficiaries, in particular, vulnerable resident population, and tailor the strategies accordingly 3) formulate strategic themes for poverty reduction and development for the conurbation as a basis of negotiation with partners 4) formalize the legal and operational framework for interfacing among communes, as a joint institutional tool for strategy guidance for implementation to be used by several communes belonging to the same territory for development purposes The operational objectives are as follows: 1) Apply the best practices from Cities Alliance projects to the methodological approach, integrating the approach used under the Sustainable Cities Program (UN-HABITAT/UNEP). 2) Define and agree on institutional and technical mechanism at the level of both the city (ie communes of Cotonou, Abomey-Calavi and Seme-Kpodji) and the ministry in charge of urban (MEHU) for the participatory formulation and implementation of the strategy. 3) Endeavor to harmonize the strategy with the major orientations of the master plan for greater Cotonou and priority options covered in the communal development plans for Cotonou, Abomey-Calavi and Seme-Kpodji, and with the investment program of the Government and of the main urban development partners. 4) Operationalize the strategy: action plan, institutional set-up, financial package, resource mobilization plan. 5) Internalize the strategy. 6) Develop a training plan for institutional and technical actors. 7) Identify opportunities for mobilizing private investment for implementation of the action plan. 8) Disseminate lessons learned and best practices at the national, sub-regional, and international levels, by means of an urban development forum.
Activities: 1) Establishment and setting up of the Coordinating Committee and project team. 2) Development of a communication strategy aimed in particular at those involved in the city’s development and at citizens, including the vulnerable population. 3) Participatory diagnostic (city profile) identifying major urban problems and bottlenecks. 4) Establishment of thematic working groups responsible for, in particular, developing strategies and action plans. 5) Conduct of thematic studies. 6) Internalization and validation of strategic sectoral studies. 7) Participatory formulation and validation of urban development strategy of Cotonou. 8) Analysis of institutional framework and strengthening the capacity of local actors and of cross sectoral development entities. 9) Operationalization of the strategy: developing short and medium term action plans, financial evaluation of the interventions, financing plan for the strategy, harmonization with current investment plan. 10) Training of relevant actors and identification of training institutions. 11) Documentation of the process and knowledge sharing
Expected Impacts and Results
One of the important achievements of the project is the improved cooperation and an agreement between the mayors of the 3 cities to set up an inter-communal body for a concerted management of the agglomeration’s local development. The project achieved following results: (i) Development of local partnerships and strengthening of capacity of local communities; (ii) Identification and better understanding of major metropolitan challenges; improved capacity of local authorities for urban management and governance; (iii) Sustainable urban development, which also addresses environmental concerns. During its development the project attracted interest from two leading development partners in Benin: AFD and UNDP. This led to a strategic partnership with AFD (an influential CA member) and UNDP, both supporting the project: - AFD financed a study mission and experience exchange of members of the three beneficiary Communes (Abomey-Calavi, Cotonou and Seme –Podji). The mission went to Dakar (Senegal) and to Sfax (Tunisie) and had a fruitful exchange with the people involved in the CDS project. The AFD is willing to support the implementation of the Priority Action Plan. It is recommended that the AFD should lead the process of mobilizing partners to attend the round table to be organized by the piloting committee of CDS. The goal of this round table is the mobilization of resources for implementation of priority actions - UNDP facilitated and supported the national workshop of validation of the strategy document held December 10th 2009 in Cotonou and the UNDP is willing to support the implementation of action plan The expected long term impact of the initiative is a sustainable urban development of the Greater Cotonou.