Capital: Porto Novo
Human Development Index ranking (2013): 166/187 countries
Life expectancy at birth: 56.5 years
Country profile DI (UNDP): http://hdr.undp.org/en/countries/profiles/BEN
Cooperation between Belgium and Benin dates back to the 1970s. Benin was subsequently listed as one of Belgium’s partner countries and the first meeting of the Belgian-Beninese Joint Commission was held in December 1998 and the fourth one took place on 28 February 2013.
Belgium is one of Benin’s major European donors, along with Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany. Belgian development cooperation covers the four departments considered to be the poorest in Benin: Atakora and Donga in the north-west of the country and Mono and Kouffo in the south-west of the country. Belgium’s activities currently focus on agriculture and health. Decentralisation isn’t a priority sector put is taken into account through decentralised institutions in the fields of health and agriculture.
The programme developed by Belgium aims to strengthen the entire health system by promoting the sector-based approach; its main target will be the central level of the Ministry of Health and the intermediary level. The specific objective is to "increase public access to high-quality health care by supporting the Ministry of Health in increasing the efficiency of the operational structures".
Persistent poverty and Benin's strategy on poverty reduction
The poverty and human development indicators in Benin are a cause for concern. Measured in monetary terms, poverty increased from 28.5% to 37.4% of the population between 2002 and 2006. The potential for economic growth in Benin is largely dependent on the agricultural sector, which currently constitutes almost 36% of gross domestic product and 88% of export revenues and employs 75% of the working population.
The agricultural sector remains largely dominated by cotton growing, which represents approximately 80% of Benin's exports. As a result, the Belgian cooperation programme focuses on diversifying and intensifying agricultural industries such as rice and vegetable crops. Such efforts should help to feed a growing population and allow farmers to increase their revenues.
In addition to the poverty affecting Benin, we have also observed the stagnation of the health indices. For example, the maternal mortality rate was higher in 2009 than in 2001. The current situation is partly due to inadequate services and very low attendance rates at healthcare centres (39% in the public sector).
As regards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), progress towards the 2015 targets has been slow, mixed and littered with constraints (inappropriate macroeconomic context, financing deficit, low mobilisation of the ODA, etc.). Poverty persists and the chances of achieving MDG 1 are low. There is a high probability of achieving access to universal primary education (MDG 2), although there are huge disparities between boys and girls and rural and urban areas; the same applies to reducing the rates of infant and infant juvenile mortality (MDG 4) and access to drinking water (MDG 7). The nutritional situation remains worrying (4 out of 10 children suffer from stunted growth). Malaria is the number one disease. The fertility rate remains very high.
Benin has drafted a document called the "ALAFIA 2025" vision, which states that "in 2015, Benin is a well governed, united and peaceful country with a prosperous and competitive economy, cultural reach and social well-being". This long-term strategy resulted in the medium-term Strategic Directions for Development (SDD), which take account of the achievement of the MDG ("improve global competitiveness and reduce poverty"). The SDD have been translated into the new National Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy 2011-2015 (GPRS), whose overall objective is to "accelerate economic growth to significantly reduce poverty and improve people's living conditions". The GPRS is itself broken down into a "Programme of Priority Actions" (the sustainable acceleration of growth and the transformation of the economy, the development of infrastructure, the strengthening of human capital, an improved quality of governance and the fair and sustainable development of the national territory).
- Indicative Cooperation Programme 2008-2011 (PDF, 1.74 MB)
- Belgian Official Development Assistance (ODA) (PDF, 23.21 KB)