On an early May morning at the Benin Royal Hotel in Cotonou, guests were welcomed into the building by hotel staff who were dressed in their finest attire. As they made their way into the ballroom, decorated with the Advancing Partners & Communities (APC) banner, guests mingled and chatted until the program began.
After nearly seven years in partnership with the Beninese government to strengthen community health systems and advance policies to support family planning, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded APC project closing event on Thursday, May 23, was a time to showcase its successes and share challenges and lessons. Implemented in Benin since 2012 by JSI Research & Training, Inc. (JSI) with partner FHI 360, APC helped the Ministry of Health (MOH) roll out a package of high-impact primary health care interventions and expand access to injectable contraception, including the introduction of Sayana Press® at the community level in 10 USAID priority health zones. APC also enhanced the ability of three local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to manage future USAID funding.
With more than 100 attendees consisting of MOH, donor organization, implementing partner, and local NGOs representatives and mayors and community health workers, the program kicked off with an overview of project accomplishments, presented by APC Benin Country Director Jean Affo. He was followed by detailed presentations of project results by colleagues from the National Directorate of Public Health and the National Maternal and Child Health Directorate. Next, each of the distinguished panelists, including the vice president of JSI, the USAID Benin country representative, and MOH officials, reflected on APC’s work. The presentations were followed by a video featuring family planning beneficiaries, a religious leader, Ministry of Health officials, NGO staff, and community health workers talking about how APC benefited their professional and/or personal lives. The dynamic program closed with a drama performed by a family planning youth ambassador. By the end of the performance, the entire audience was yelling for “APC, Version 2!”
After the program, invitees visited stands staffed by the three NGOs to learn more about their work and the technical assistance provided by APC. APC had a table offering participants copies of the final project report and the opportunity to talk with and ask questions of staff. Photos and posters from project activities lined the walls, illustrating and explaining the impact that APC has had on individuals and communities.
Though the APC project will soon close its doors in Benin, it will remain in the hearts and minds of the many people who were touched by its work. To find out more about the APC Benin project and its results, visit https://www.advancingpartners.org/countries/benin.