What seemed like a student exchange programme over three days was really the result of coordinated efforts to make sure that Togolese children who recently fled into Benin can continue their education even in exile. The prompt action taken by the Beninese government, various aid agencies and refugee teachers is a textbook example of ensuring access to education in refugee emergencies.

An American defence contractor, accused of pumping $2 million into the re-election campaign of President Mathieu Kerekou of Benin, has pleaded guilty to charges of overseas bribery. US regulators said Titan Corp made the payments in 2001 at a time when the company was seeking a four-fold increase in the fees it charged for managing a telephone network in the West African country.

SNV Benin provides advisory support to some 30 mostly rural and middle sized municipalities (population 25-100.000) with the objective to strengthen the capacities of the local governments, especially in the fields of planning, local finance and project preparation and management. These activities take up a large part of the programme.

For International Action Against Female Genital Mutilation, a German group active in Benin and other African countries, 2005 will be a year in which past successes in the fight against mutilation are celebrated – and efforts to eradicate it continue with renewed vigour. A ‘No More Excisions’ festival is planned for Benin in April. President Mathieu Kerekou, who first suggested 2005 as a deadline for rooting out female genital mutilation (FGM) in the country, is expected to attend this event.

Banikoara Community Multimedia Centre (CMC) in Benin has provided many essential services to the large but isolated local community in this cotton-growing region since 2002, but until recently, it was hampered by poor Internet connectivity. Since UNESCO provided VSAT in September 2004, use of the CMC's telecentre has shot up. "Even though nine computers are available for email and Internet from 8a.m. until 11 p.m., queues often form and we frequently have to stay open until midnight", more