Beginning in 2007, Benin’s reformist leaders sought to strengthen the quality of governance and public management by instituting a system for evaluating public policies. National policies and programs often had little impact on development outcomes, and existing systems for monitoring and evaluating government initiatives were largely donor driven and designed to fit donors’ needs. As a result, the government struggled to define, prioritize, and coordinate policies within and across disparate sectors like agriculture, health, and education. With the support of newly elected president, Boni Yayi, Pascal Koupaki, Benin’s minister for planning, development and evaluation, created a bureau for policy evaluation to analyze public policies across different ministries, assess their impacts, and recommend improvements. Given the prevalence of inefficiency and ineffectiveness, the idea of evaluation initially enjoyed little political support. However, a small team based in Koupaki’s ministry, gradually built national evaluation capacities and increased internal demand for policy evaluation. By 2015, the bureau had become a permanent part of the administration, completed more than a dozen evaluation studies, and inspired the establishment of national evaluation mechanisms in West African neighbors Togo, Burkina Faso, and Mali.
Pallavi Nuka, ISS Associate Director, and Khady Thiam, of Sciences Po's Paris School of International Affairs drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Cotonou and Abidjan in September 2015. This case study was funded by the French Development Agency. Case published April 2016.