localisation : Benin


Background and news

With a surface area of 112,622 km², Benin is 700 km long, shares its borders with four countries (Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Togo) and has 125 km of coastline (Gulf of Guinea). Its political capital is Porto-Novo and its economic capital is Cotonou. The country has 12.5 million inhabitants.

A French colony, Dahomey was proclaimed a republic in 1958, became independent in 1960 and was renamed Benin in 1975. After successive military governments, it was not until the 1990s that a multi-party system was adopted and a civilian government established. Benin is known to have a stable democratic regime. In 2021, the elections saw the incumbent President, Patrice Talon, re-elected for 5 years. Today, the country faces a growing security threat in the north of the country due to jihadist attacks in the region.

Benin is economically dependent on agriculture, processing industries for agricultural products (two key exports, cotton and cashew nuts) and trade with Nigeria. It also remains largely dependent on the informal economy. Although it moved into the middle-income country category for the first time in 2020 (World Bank classification), Benin is working to revive its economy after suffering not only the economic repercussions of the global health crisis but also the trade ban imposed by Nigeria. By the end of 2020, inflation had reached almost 3%.

In the United Nations Human Development Index 2020, Benin ranks 158th out of 189 countries listed. Even before the pandemic, many children and families had great difficulty in accessing basic social services, for example less than 10% of the population was covered by health insurance. The crisis has exacerbated the difficulties of vulnerable populations and worsened their socio-economic situation. Thus, according to the World Bank, from 2019 to 2020, the poverty rate has risen from 38.5% to 45.9%.


The situation of children

Benin ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 3 August 1990.

The country is young, with 42% of its population under 14 and 23% aged 10-19.

In recent years, infant mortality has decreased significantly among children under five, from 139 per 1,000 births in 2000 to 93 per 1,000 in 2018. However, malnutrition remains a major problem, with over 32% of children suffering from chronic malnutrition and over 10% from severe malnutrition.

Strengthening community mechanisms for the protection of orphans and vulnerable children is one of the priorities of the Beninese government and its development partners. The aim is to combat all forms of violence, break the vicious circle of poverty and improve children’s access to social services.

Despite tangible results in several areas such as birth registration (85% in 2018 for children under 5 years old), the abandonment of female genital mutilation and the reduction of forced marriage of young girls (7% married at 15 years old, 26% at 18 years old), many problems related to child and adolescent protection remain important.

For example, in communities in the north of Benin, the situation of so-called “witch children” is extremely worrying. These children, who are blamed for the community’s misfortunes, are expelled from their families, marginalised or placed in re-education centres. They are often victims of abuse and ill-treatment, even torture, which can lead to their death.

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, 41% of children were forced to work and only 55% of pupils had completed primary school. The literacy rate for the over-15s was only 43% (31% for girls) and for the 15-24s 61% (52% for girls). With the closure of schools and the digital divide, the educational situation has deteriorated, accentuating gender inequalities and urban-rural disparities.

(Sources: Human Development Report 2020, UNDP / The State of the World’s Children, Unicef, 2019 / Unesco Institute of Statistics (UIS) – Benin, 2018 / World Bank – Presentation of Benin / Framework Agreement IV of SOS Children’s Villages World with the MAEE, September 2021)

SOS Children’s Villages in Benin

carte du Bénin

SOS Children’s Villages has been active in Benin since the 1980s and today supports more than 4,100 children, adolescents and adults in Abomey-Calavi, Dassa-Zoumé and Natitingou through its alternative care programmes (for 600 children/adolescents), education and training (for 660 learners), health (for 640 people) and family strengthening (for 2,200 children and adults). From 2022, and for 5 years, two Community Support Programmes for Child Protection (PACOPE) will be deployed in 18 neighbourhoods in the communes of Abomey-Calavi and Parakou (300 families/guardians, 1,400 children/adolescents and 100 young people aged 15-24 years will be direct beneficiaries).



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