Benin has once again distinguished itself from other West African countries in the area of environmental safety. The Autonomous Port of Cotonou has recently equipped itself with an environmental monitoring platform. The initiative is the result of collaboration between scientists from the Autonomous Port of Cotonou and the University of Abomey-Calavi, the French IRD ( Research and Development Institute) and the Belgian cooperation. It is a unique innovation in West Africa and aims to monitor the spread of viruses and invasive species in and out of the port.
Due to the constant trade at the Autonomous Port of Cotonou, viruses spread and can seriously affect human health. To monitor these pathogenic viruses and neutralise them, Sylvestre Badou, a graduate of the University of Abomey-Calavi, along with some of Benin’s other young scientists, spends his days chasing insects, viruses and rodents. These viral populations live hidden in the shops of the port of Cotonou, in the holds of ships and in ballast water.
“Ports are gateways for these species that are transported through trade,” explains Sylvestre Badou. Ports are gateways for these species that are transported through trade,” explains Sylvestre Badou.
These environmental monitoring activities have several aims.
The environmental monitoring platform that was created for the Autonomous Port of Cotonou for several reasons. It is a matter of prevention and protection for port actors. “From the moment the rodents enter the port of Cotonou, they are likely to spread throughout the city, and why not even to the hinterland countries that use the port of Cotonou as a transit port,” says Sylvestre Badou. This laboratory therefore serves to protect not only port workers and the rest of the country from viruses, but also Benin’s trading partners, he continued.
A virus already detected by the laboratory.
This laboratory, which has been operational since 2021, has already detected a haemorrhagic fever virus of Vietnamese origin which was found in a rodent caught in the warehouses. This platform functions normally thanks to the collaboration of the University of Abomey-Calavi, and also to its partners from the IRD, the French scientific cooperation, and Enabel, the Belgian technical cooperation which financed the project. Paul-Henri Dossou, a scientist in charge of the laboratory’s databases, is also a member of the team.
Benin is one of the first countries in West Africa to set up an environmental monitoring platform.