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 9.6 million, composed of 51.5 percent women and 17.4 percent children under 5.
Classified as a low-income country with a GDP per capita of US$1,481, Benin is ranked 166 out of 187 on the 2012 UNDP Human Development Index (HDI). About a third of the population lives below the international poverty line of US$1.25 per day.
Agriculture is the economy's key sector; however, structural problems in this sector persist, thus negatively affecting both food security, nutrition and the trade balance. These include the lack of modern farming technologies, poor soil condition, and weak post-harvest infrastructure (storage, preservation, processing etc.). In addition, floods, droughts and the impact of the global financial crisis and increase in commodity prices have exacerbated an already fragile nutritional situation in the most vulnerable regions of the country. A comprehensive food security and vulnerability analysis (CFSVA) conducted in 2008 estimates that nearly 1 million people in the country (12 percent of the population) are food insecure, that more than one third of children under 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition, and that the level of acute malnutrition is 4.7 percent. A 2011 survey conducted at the national level by the Benin Government shows that 33.6 percent of households are food insecure. The HIV prevalence among adults is currently 1.2 percent, however, this percentage could rapidly increase if preventative efforts aimed at young adults and vulnerable populations are not ensured.
Despite the efforts of the Government of Benin to ensure universal education by 2015, the National net enrolment rate remains at 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. WFP operations in Benin support the Government’s efforts in implementing Millennium Development Goals 1 through 6.