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What are the current issues in Benin

Benin is located on the West African coast, bordering Nigeria and Niger in the east, Togo in the west and Burkina Faso in the north and has a total population of approximately 9million. The countryis ranked 167 out of 187 on the 2011 UNDP Human Development Index (HDI).

Benin is located on the West African coast, bordering Nigeria and Niger in the East, Togo in the West and Burkina Faso in the North. It has a total population of approximately 9 million, of which 51.5 percent are women and 17.4 percent are children under 5.

Agriculture is the economy's key sector, but structural problems—a lack of modern farming technologies, poor soil condition, and weak post-harvest infrastructure (storage, preservation, processing, etc.)—persist, which has negatively affected food security, nutrition and trade conditions. In addition, floods, droughts, global financial conditions and elevated commodity prices have exacerbated an already-fragile nutritional situation in the some of the most vulnerable regions of the country. A survey conducted at the national level by the Benin Government (EMICOV: Enquête Modulaire Intégrée sur les Condition de Vie des Ménages) in 2011 showed that 33.6 percent of households are food insecure. Additionally, results from the 2012 Multi-Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) showed that acute malnutrition affects 16 percent of children under 5 and chronic malnutrition affects 44.6 percent of children under 5 in the country.

Despite the efforts of the Government of Benin to ensure universal education by 2015, the National net enrolment rate remains 90.28 percent (92.82 percent for boys and 87.53 percent for girls). Several rural districts still have net enrolment rates below 50 percent (Annual Statistics 2009-2010, Ministry of Education, Benin). Benin is ranked 167 out of 187 on the 2011 UNDP Human Development Index (HDI).

What the World Food Programme is doing in Benin

WFP has been present in Benin since 1964, providing assistance to children enrolled in primary school, to orphans and vulnerable children, people living with HIV and vulnerable populations affected by emergencies such as floods, droughts, and the high food price crisis.

  • School feeding

In partnership with the Government of Benin, WFP currently provides food assistance to children enrolled in public primary schools through its school meals programme, which operates in 6 of the 12 regions in the country, covering 364 schools and more than 100,000 students. The school feeding programme aims to support districts where there are high rates of poverty and chronic malnutrition and where net enrolment rates are below the national average. In some districts of Benin, the enrolment levels can be lower than 50%. Through the project, students in primary schools receive a daily meal made up of maize, beans, vegetable oil and salt. The daily meals help to increase enrolment and attendance rates and improve concentration during class.

WFP emphasizes the importance of community ownership of the school canteens. Parents’ Associations are involved in canteen management committees, contribution to the meals and the construction of kitchens and food storage areas. In order to encourage community development and local production, WFP plans to purchase 70% of commodities for the project on the local market, principally from small farmers. In 2012, 76 % of commodities that were distributed were purchased locally.Government capacity building for management of school canteens is a core aspect of the project’s strategy. WFP provides technical assistance to the Government of Benin in order to support the establishment and functioning of a national school feeding programme that will eventually take over from WFP.

  • Emergency Operations

Benin has experienced heavy flooding in recent years, which has exacerbated an already precarious nutritional situation in some of the most vulnerable regions of the country. WFP Benin has continued to assist vulnerable populations affected by floods in order to improve their nutritional status and enhance the resilience of local communities.

In 2010, Benin experienced heavy flooding that led to a significant deterioration of the country’s overall food security situation. The flooding left thousands of people homeless and caused considerable damage to community and individual assets. In response, WFP launched an emergency operation to meet the urgent needs of food-insecure, flood-affected populations. Under this operation, WFP provided a comprehensive assistance package to meet beneficiaries’ acute needs and to protect their livelihoods following the crisis. This included a series of nutrition and food-for-work activities which reached about 306,000 food-insecure, flood-affected people and host families.

Additionally, the rising waters of the Niger River in August 2012 had a critical impact on the northern regions of the country, causing severe flooding and affecting over 50,000 people in the communes of Karimama and Malanville. In response to the flooding, WFP launched an emergency operation in order to provide food assistance to flood affected people. The project paid special attention to the estimated 9,000 children under 5 years old from the affected communes by providing a ration to prevent acute malnutrition. The decision to target all children in this age group was taken based on the lack of structures to treat acute malnutrition in the area. The project also paid special attention to community members and families who hosted displaced people and with whom they shared their limited supply of food. These hosts are populations who already faced a precarious nutritional situation due to the 2011 drought and who needed immediate food assistance in the months to come.

The development of Disaster Risk Reduction activities is growing more relevant for Benin, where floods are becoming a more frequent phenomenon. Promoting capacity building through training with NGOs and the Government in order to reduce the negative effects of future floods is crucial.

Featured Benin publications

  • Benin: WFP Country Brief (PDF, 400 KB)

    A Country Brief provides the latest snapshot of the country strategy, operations, operational highlights (achievements and issues/challenges), partnerships and country background.

Looking for more publications on Benin? Visit the Benin publications archive.