Products Tackling Global Poverty
People who live in poverty-stricken communities typically do not have access to simple products that can be the difference between life and death. Below are five products tackling global poverty.

5 Products Tackling Global Poverty

  1. The Shoe That Grows: The Shoe That Grows produces a shoe for kids living in poverty. It expands up to five sizes and lasts for years. Kenton Lee founded the shoe after he traveled to Nairobi, Kenya. He lived and worked with kids at a small orphanage and noticed that many of the children either had broken, worn shoes or none at all. He came up with the idea of a shoe that expands to prevent soil-transmitted diseases and parasites that can cause children to miss out on their education and even death. As of now, the company has distributed over 200,000 pairs of shoes to 100 different countries. The organization sent 30,000 of those to Ethiopia alone.
  2. NIFTY Cup: The NIFTY Cup is a device that some use to feed premature babies in Malawi and Tanzania who are unable to breastfeed. Unlike the metal cups and spoons that people in poverty-stricken countries often use, the NIFTY Cup contains durable, soft silicone that one can shape to allow all nutrients to reach babies’ mouths without causing them to cough or choke. The cup serves as a life-saving resource for mothers who do not have the necessary medical assistance necessary to keep premature babies healthy. Donors have made it possible to send over 6,000 NIFTY Cups to hospitals in Malawi and Tanzania.
  3. The Lucky Iron Fish: The Lucky Iron Fish is a tool used to fight iron deficiency in developing countries. Families place the iron fish in boiling water before cooking to add proper nutrients to meals. One of these iron fish is equivalent to five years of iron pill bottles. The Lucky Iron Fish company works on a one-to-one donation scale. This means that when people in developed countries buy one of the fish, the company donates another to a family in a developing country. As of 2018, the company impacted 54,000 lives because of the buy-one-give-one system. The impact fund has distributed the fish to Nicaragua, Tanzania, Cambodia, Haiti, Benin and more.
  4. Embrace Warmer: Embrace Warmer is a life-saving tool that developing countries use. In these places, newborn babies often suffer hypothermia due to being premature and low weight. The tool is essentially a sleeping bag that helps regulate the body temperature of newborn babies during their first few days of life. Embrace Warmer began as a class project at Stanford, when students had to design a cost-effective product to help battle neonatal hypothermia. Eventually, the product expanded to rural India and has now helped 200,000 infants in developing countries.
  5. Flo: Flo is a reusable menstrual hygiene kit that Mariko Higaki Iwai designed to provide a solution for women and girls in developing countries to take care of their bodies. The kit allows girls to wash, dry and carry reusable sanitary pads. This kit makes it easier for girls to stay in school, prevent reproductive diseases and illnesses and take care of their menstrual cycle in privacy. Flo is still a prototype but people working in the field in developing countries have been trying to make Flo available for their communities. The team is currently seeking manufacturers to make this possible.

These life-saving products are working at tackling global poverty, while also giving those who live in poverty-stricken communities a better chance at having a healthy lifestyle.

Juliette Lopez
Photo: Flickr

 

Progress in Benin
Despite a low unemployment rate of one percent and a GDP growth rate that increased from two percent to over five percent from 2015 to 2017, progress in Benin has been slow and it is still a poor country in West Africa. With more than a third of the over 11 million population living below the poverty line, it is difficult for Beninese to live without a feeling of unease. Three major reasons Benin has a rising poverty rate is because of over-reliance in Niger’s economy, the largest exporter, reluctance for Benin to modernize its own economy and climatic shocks, particularly massive floods.

Agricultural Productivity and Diversification Project

The agriculture sector employs over 70 percent of Beninese. In an effort to boost the economy, the Republic of Benin is investing in improvements in the agriculture sector. The Agricultural Productivity and Diversification Project began on March 22, 2011, with a budget of $61 million and ends on February 28, 2021. Its purpose is to repair major damage caused during Benin’s 2010 flood and improve productivity in certain export-oriented value chains, such as aquaculture, maize, rice, cashew and pineapple.

One component of this project is improving technology and restoration of productivity. The devastating flood in 2010 destroyed over 316,000 acres of cropland and 50,000 homes. The project began after the major flood and takes into account the need for drainage systems to stifle rising waters during floods. Small-scale irrigation infrastructure repair and improvement are issues that the project faces and hopes to correct in the timeframe. Climate-smart production systems are another investment that the country is developing to prevent widespread destruction to cropland when a natural disaster threatens to destroy homes and crops. The project is also set to create new jobs by investing in small and medium enterprises (SMEs), especially for youth and women.

Improving the Business Environment

Although flooding caused several Beninese people to lose their homes and cropland, there is one impediment that halts economic development: corruption. President Talon became the President of Benin in 2016 and stated in his inaugural address that he would “make the fight against corruption an ongoing and everyday struggle.” A 29 percent electricity access is another issue that prevents developmental progress in Benin, but since 2016 blackouts have reduced and electricity generation has improved significantly.

Economic Diversification

The last major impasse that prevents development in Benin is over-reliance in Nigeria, Benin’s major exporter. Current IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, announced a call for economic diversification in Benin. Lagarde believes diversifying is one way to reduce the high poverty level of 36 percent. Due to the country’s economic reliance on the agricultural sector and economic conditions in Nigeria, it is difficult to grow if a recession, such as the 2017 recession in Nigeria, occurs. In her speech at the Chamber of Commerce in Cotonou, Benin, Lagarde discussed how Benin could strengthen land tenure, increase food security in rural areas and invest more in education and health, and improve transparency in the government so that outside investors would find investing in Benin appealing.

Rate of Progress in Benin

There is room for growth, though the poverty-stricken nation has had success in certain areas, such as the average life expectancy that rose from 50 years in 2000 to 62 in 2018. With the creation of the Agricultural Productivity and Diversification Project, improvements in agriculture and infrastructure are already underway. The estimated rate of urbanization is fairly high at 3.89 percent from 2015 to 2020. At this rate of progress in Benin and under the leadership of President Talon, the country will continue its headway in development so that the percentage of Beninese in poverty will gradually drop in the coming years.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

PA Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Benin
Benin is a relatively small country located in West Africa and is home to approximately 11.7 million people. The climate is hot and many people are impoverished. As of late, organizations have started programs in Benin to reduce poverty and alleviate the problems associated with it. Living conditions in Benin can vary for those living in urban areas versus those living in rural areas, with those in urban areas typically having access to more resources.

Although Benin is working toward development, with increases in business and transportation, the country still faces issues associated with underdevelopment. With increased development, a decrease in poverty is likely to follow. In this article, the top 10 facts about living conditions in Benin are discussed.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Benin

  1. More than one-third of the population in Benin is impoverished. While equality for women is largely lacking, families in which women are the leaders have lower levels of poverty. According to The World Bank, the levels of poverty are 28 percent for women-led families compared to 38 percent for male-headed families.
  2. Natural resources are not the easiest to find in Benin. However, agriculture plays a large part in the country’s economy. Increased cotton production led to a positive increase in GDP from 4.0 percent in 2016 to 5.6 percent in 2017. Additionally, domestic oil has benefited economic productivity.
  3. From a political standpoint, Benin is doing well. Their democratic elections are peaceable and people are generally pleased with those in power. In the 2016 presidential election, cotton businessman, Patrice Talon, won. His election provides for positive increases with trade between Benin and its foreign partners.
  4. The Global Hunger Index rates Benin at a 24.3, which means that Benin is labeled under the “serious” category for hunger. While that number reflects a large number of people facing malnutrition, the number of people facing food insecurity is decreasing over time. This is hope-inspiring evidence that organizations working to combat hunger such as UNICEF are gradually making progress in Benin.
  5. Sanitation remains an issue in Benin. According to UNICEF, only 20 percent of people have access to basic sanitation services. Open defecation is practiced by half of the population and lack of toilets can cause other health issues. This can be instrumental in the spread of various diseases. Organizations, such as UNICEF, are working to improve sanitation in countries where open defecation is still practiced through expanding access to sanitation services.
  6. Transportation in Benin is developing. Currently, urban roads are primarily paved, unlike rural areas. There is a railroad in Benin connecting domestic cities, but it does not go into any other nations. Cotonou, a largest and economically most important city, has a port and airport, proof of development.
  7. Child marriage is a serious problem for the country. Girls Not Brides reports that 26 percent of girls in Benin are married before their 18th birthday. This issue persists, in part, from gender inequality. The United Nations, UNICEF and the Government of Benin are working to fight this through advocating for policy changes regarding the legal age of marriage.
  8. Nigeria and Benin have a close relationship. The majority of Benin’s exports go to Nigeria. Consequently, the economy in Nigeria can have both positive and negative effects on the country. Lately, increases in Nigeria’s economy have led to subsequent improvements in the economy of Benin. Trade is somewhat limited, partially resulting from lack of credit access to the people. However, in recent years, aspects of business, such as agriculture and exports, have positively grown.
  9. Seven percent of the country’s expenditures go toward public health. Under-five mortality rates are at a continuous decline. With growing emphasis placed on health care, this trend should continue. In addition, private health care is growing. There are some limitations though. For example, private health care is typically only available in urban areas. Within the health sector, UNICEF is diligently working to improve health care for both women and children through shaping policy and providing access to health care services.
  10. Benin initiated free public education for all citizens in 2007. International schools are also options for those who can afford it. Higher education is also a possibility in Benin at the National University of Benin.

Based on these top 10 facts about living conditions in Benin, it is clear that poverty is still abundant in the country. However, in recent years, there have been many efforts to combat underdevelopment and improve living conditions. Organizations, such as UNICEF and USAID, are working to improve the quality of living conditions in the country. UNICEF places an emphasis on helping women and children. USAID has implemented programs to shed light on corruption in Benin. These top 10 facts about living conditions in Benin show that with the joint efforts of these organizations and local communities, the country has a bright future.

– Carolyn Newsome
Photo: Flickr

Girls’ Education in Benin

Benin had set tremendous precedence after The Cold War ended by being one of the first African nations to democratize. Its successful democratic system has since allowed Benin to achieve relative economic stability; however, it still suffers from high infant and maternal mortality rates as well as women’s illiteracy.

Barriers to Girls’ Education in Benin

Girls’ education in Benin has been hindered by factors such as illnesses, extreme poverty and illiteracy. As the world becomes more and more technologically driven, the economic development of a country is directly affected by low levels of literacy. Poverty, coupled with the high costs of education, creates limited opportunities for girls to acquire a quality education in Benin and succeed in life.

Other major issues that Benin is facing regarding education are the high rates of teacher absenteeism and the limited resources to effectively manage the educational system. Along with these overarching issues, Beninese girls are disproportionately burdened with traditional gender roles. The traditional division of domestic labor typically calls for girls to stay at home and work, which has led to the traditional belief that an education is irrelevant to a girl’s reality. In Benin, the male literacy rate between the ages 15 and 24 is about 55 percent while the female literacy rate in the same age group is about 30 percent.

Improvements to Girls’ Education in Benin

An education population serves as the backbone of every nation. In Benin, improvement has been their top priority. The former president of Benin, Yayi Boni, took very important steps in developing the national education system and ensuring that girls had the resources they needed to go to school by enacting certain measures between the years 2006 and 2013.

A few of President Boni’s measures included ensuring free and universal primary education for all children, tuition support for girls pursuing a secondary education and partial support of enrollment fees for girls who are in industrial science and technology fields.

Partnerships for Education

International organizations such as the United Nations, The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and UNICEF have all worked with the government of Benin to ensure that girls’ education in Benin is prioritized. Thus far, these partnerships have produced impressive results.

The United Nation’s main objective with this initiative was to mobilize the government of Benin and develop partners to improve the quality and availability of education, confront traditional gender norms surrounding girls’ education in Benin and help economically struggling parents afford the direct and indirect costs of school.

In 2016, the GPE approved a $428,794 grant for Benin to develop its education sector. This plan was implemented in 2017 and is set to end in 2025. The Education Sector Plan Development Grant will allow Benin to conduct a sector-wide analysis of the educational system in Benin.

UNICEF and Big Sistering

A creative UNICEF-supported program called “Big Sistering” was also established in Benin to make the typically long walk from home to school a little more enjoyable. The older girls who are considered “big sisters” not only make sure that the younger girls get to school every day but also have the added responsibility of advocating for the importance of going to school.

If a girl does not come to school one day, it is the big sister’s duty to find out why and report it back to the headmaster. Big sisters also keep a lookout for girls who are not enrolled in school and encourage them to attend. Often times, parents keep their girls home from school to work on farms or tend to animals. In these cases, the parent-teacher association contacts the parents in hopes of finding ways to overcome these barriers.

Through the collaboration of international organizations and the government of Benin, gross enrollment rates for primary education rose from 93 percent to 121 percent, the primary school completion rate increased from 65 percent to 77 percent and gender parity has almost been achieved.

To support these developments, Benin plans to continue its efforts in increasing the education budget. Increasing the budget will not only improve access to secondary education but also the quality of learning and equity at all levels of education.

– Lolontika Hoque

Photo: Flickr

Credit Access in BeninCredit access in Benin is a complicated issue that activists, governmental organizations and foreign aid groups have been working to improve for several years. 

Development Credit Authority

There are a few different ways that organizations have approached the issue. One method, incorporated by the U.S. Agency for International Affairs (USAID), involves improving Development Credit Authority (DCA). The program is designed to allow residents to apply their credit to projects for improving health and agriculture.

Through DCA, more than 500 guarantees have been made with USAID by financial institutions. These have resulted in up to $4.8 billion in private financing, creating opportunities for more than 245,000 entrepreneurs worldwide.

The Microcredit Program

Credit access in Benin is an issue that the local government attempted to solve as well. In 2007, the governmental set up the Microcredit Program, which allowed people to take out loans for individual success and enterprises. It was designed to improve credit access across the country.

Credit access can affect poverty rates as well, giving people a chance to start new. Loans majorly affect a person’s ability to be successful and achieve personal goals.

Credit Access in Benin for Women

The World Bank recognizes in an overview of Benin’s finances that poverty in the country has a history of being unequal between genders. Women are more vulnerable and have fewer economic opportunities despite a lower poverty rate. Female-led households in poverty are at 28 percent in the country, while male-headed homes are higher at 38 percent. 

Economic opportunities such as the opportunity to participate in personal economic goals or business endeavors can be improved by credit, increasing the accessibility of economic opportunity for women.

Risks to Credit Institutions

Despite foreign aid efforts and the government working to improve credit access in Benin, the issue is still a complicated one and improvement is difficult due to the way that credit has been established in the country.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), several risk factors are present regarding the way credit institutions have been established and overseen in Benin. Government involvement, government bonds and the shallow financial market are risks to the success of the banking system and credit access in Benin. According to IMF, “The recent government plan not to pay back short-term bank loans, but to issue long-term bonds instead would not only deepen banks’ exposure to sovereign risk but also aggravate liquidity risks due to a sharp change in the maturity structure of the affected banks’ portfolio.”

As the government works to improve the credit system and the management of government loans and bonds, credit access in Benin may change. USAID and other groups will continue to look for ways to improve credit access in Benin. The DCA program is only one way activists are working on improving the issue and financial analysis from organizations such as the World Bank and the IMF will be useful going forward for people looking to make a change.

– Gabriella Evans

Photo: Flickr

infrastructure in BeninBenin’s road and bridge network was initially built in the 1990s with vast economic and sociopolitical expansion in mind. The government of Benin wanted to connect all rural and urban areas to enhance overall national development by connecting everything and everyone together with an expansive and intricate network of roads and bridges. Infrastructure in Benin was a key element to accomplishing this goal. It would provide all areas of the country with basic needs, including education, electricity, potable water and better communication.

Unfortunately, this goal of integrating the entire country through a quick and vast spurt in road and bridge networks led to the creation of inadequate structures that often make travel along them inefficient. It is easy to travel across the entire country within a matter of hours, but many of the roads were so poorly built in the first place that they have suffered from rapid deterioration, making travel along them nearly impossible.

Road maintenance is another impediment to safe and passable infrastructure in Benin, being practically nonexistent in most rural areas. Some roads are only passable during certain periods during the year, and even then, only by vehicles obtained at high operating costs. This creates imperative issues during periods of planting and transportation of supplies in rural areas.

Poor maintenance has created increased travel and vehicle costs, heightened accident rates and has promoted the further isolation of rural areas. This last issue is particularly threatening: with increased isolation in rural areas, the possibility of obtaining a decent education and health services decreases.

Approximately 93 percent of goods, including those brought in at ports, are sent along this faulty road and bridge network. Economic growth depends on this system, with raw goods, finished products and information all being transported. Infrastructure in Benin faces massive challenges to its proper and safe expansion. The roads and bridges are a pivotal aspect of maintaining and supporting the country’s continually growing population and economy.

Of the 4,660 miles of road in Benin, only 20 percent are paved, the remaining 80 percent being dirt or mere tracks that are mostly impassable. Creating a uniform road and bridge network within infrastructure in Benin is imperative and the country has allocated funds towards this goal. Of the $452 million spent per year on road rehabilitation and expansion, however, nearly $101 million is lost to inefficient management.

This mismanagement of funds is due to constant changes of chairmen in the local and national branches of government. Every time the chairmanship changes, so do the government’s priorities in infrastructure in Benin. Despite this mismanagement, Benin has rebuilt some roads and bridges, expanding them further into rural areas for greater integration.

– Kayla Rafkin

Photo: Flickr

humanitarian aid to BeninIn 2005, more than 20,000 people fled from Togo to Benin after the extreme violence surrounding the presidential election in April. Since then, humanitarian aid to Benin has been constantly increasing in an effort to educate, feed, house and provide medical support to as many refugees as possible. Commissioner Louis Michel of Benin’s humanitarian aid department is responsible for the distribution of the €1.05 million allotted for humanitarian aid, which comes through its partnership with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Of the 20,850 people who fled to Benin, more than 13,000 were granted asylum in small communities, while the remaining 7,400 lived in refugee camps in Comé and Lokossa. The last of these refugees were moved to the settlement of Agame in 2006, completing the successful placement and consolidation of refugees since they first entered the country and closing the camps in Comé and Lakossa.

Demands for humanitarian aid to Benin rose again in 2010, when more than 680,000 people were forced to flee their homes after severe flooding from heavy rains. In response to this crisis, under-secretary-general for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, said, “The loss of homes, livestock, clothing, agricultural tools and seeds will have devastating and long-lasting effects for many people, and that is why, with the government of Benin, we have launched this appeal for urgent assistance.”

Benin’s government and multiple aid agencies launched the Emergency Humanitarian Action Plan, requesting $46 million in foreign aid. The Cooperative for Assistance and Emergency Relief Everywhere (CARE) focused on providing food, water purification and sanitation services to combat the increasing threat of a cholera outbreak in the aftermath of the flood. Benin constantly struggles with providing adequate healthcare and sanitation services as one of the world’s poorest countries.

Unfortunately, despite providing clean water and soap mosquito nets, in addition to other supplies, CARE’s humanitarian aid to Benin barely made a blip on the radar of other countries. Many assumed it was simply another flooding season and did not express much concern for Benin, which normally has periods of heavy rain.

Over 1.6 million people in Africa have suffered the effects of heavy rains, but Benin received the worst of it, according to the Department for International Development. Humanitarian aid to Benin has seen the successful provision of tents, food, water and medical supplies to all displaced citizens and refugees wherever possible and, with the help of the Red Cross of Benin, has provided for the basic needs of all.

– Kayla Rafkin

Photo: Flickr

women's empowerment in BeninTwo-thirds of the world’s illiterate population is female. This alarming statistic is, unfortunately, higher in Africa. However, many African countries have decided to tackle the problem and are now planning on improving women’s education. Benin is a great example.

With nine million inhabitants, Benin is one of the most stable countries in Africa, but also one of the poorest countries in the world. With this poverty comes great gender inequality.

Thus, even if Benin’s constitution guarantees gender equality and even prohibits gender discrimination, ancient customs and traditions are still huge obstacles to women’s empowerment in Benin.

However, it has been proven that societies benefit from women’s empowerment, and associations are now intervening to encourage women’s empowerment in the country. One of the key priorities has been to help promote women in decision-making positions, but also in different sectors such as introducing them in civil society organizations.

One of the ways to improve women’s empowerment in Benin is to help women become financially independent through savings and loan groups to help them run their own business.

Most of the time, the loans are used to invest in their cultures: buying seeds, cattle and tools to increase their productivity. Within these groups, women have also access to a solidarity fund, which can be used in case of emergencies in issues concerning their business, but also in everyday life, such as paying tuition or hospital fees.

“I strongly believe in the use of saving and loans groups to empower rural women in Africa, as I have seen thousands of lives transformed not only in Benin but also in Tanzania, Cote d’Ivoire and Ethiopia, using this methodology,” says Gaelle Demolis, U.N. Women Fund for Gender Equality Programme Specialist for Africa.

Recently, a new way to push women’s empowerment in the country has been created through theater. The plays have one aim: engaging community members in important women’s issues like domestic violence or child marriage. Most of the time, after the performances, a panel discusses the various challenges embodied in the plays. Thanks to this new psychological approach, women can discuss their problems without fear and in an accessible way. Women’s empowerment in Benin seems to be on a path to progress.

– Léa Gorius

Photo: Flickr

Five Development Projects in BeninIn Benin, 40 percent of the country lives below the poverty line. The conditions force residents of the country to migrate on a regular basis. The country’s increased investments in infrastructure and sustained economic growth rate highlight its potential to move in the right direction. Below is an overview of five development projects in Benin that could help the country reduce poverty.

Agricultural Productivity and Diversification Additional Financing

One of the ways for a country to reduce poverty is to invest in agricultural programs. This project allows Benin to invest more heavily in its agriculture, as it will restore and improve productivity. It will also support the promotion of improved technologies and the development of production via water management.

Public Investment Management and Governance Support Project

This project will help reduce poverty and increase shared prosperity. The World Bank has issued a $30 million credit to Benin that will better facilitate the efficiency and management of this project. Their aim is to enhance good governance, accountability and promote more transparent management of public funds.

Small Town Water Supply and Urban Septage Management Project

About 22 percent of the country does not have access to adequate drinking water. The Small Town Water Supply and Urban Septage Management Project will increase access to water supply and sanitation. It will also strengthen the service delivery capacity of water supply and sanitation as well as prepare an effective response to potential emergencies.

Energy Service Improvement Project

This project will improve utility power performance and expand access to electricity to various areas across the country. It also aims to promote community-based management of forest resources. Investing in infrastructure is important to building up an economy, so this project, among other development projects in Benin, is extremely important.

National Community Driven Development (CDD) Project

The CDD project has provided grassroots management training. This has helped contribute to the decentralization process and strengthening of both local government and community capacities to better plan and implement development projects. Under the project, 81,000 children have enrolled in school and 10,000 people have gained access to a clean water supply.

These development projects in Benin have the capability of reducing poverty in the country and improving the lives of the individuals who reside there.

– Dezanii Lewis

Photo: Flickr

Poverty Rate in Benin
Benin, a country of 9.4 million people and 113,000 square miles, is known to  be one of the most stable and inclusive democracies in Africa. The country has seen consistent GDP growth over the past two decades, between 4 and 5 percent annually, with even higher rates in 2013 (7.7 percent) and 2014 (6.4 percent). However, political stability and economic growth have not lessened the poverty rate in Benin. Instead, the country’s poverty rate has been rising.

Despite the GDP, Poverty Rates are Climbing

In 2006, the poverty rate in Benin stood at 37.5 percent, dropping slightly to 35.2 percent in 2009. It then began to rise again, reaching 36.2 percent in 2011 and 40.1 percent in 2015.

How is it that GDP growth has gone hand-in-hand with rising poverty rates?

Economic Vulnerabilities

Twenty-five percent of Benin’s GDP is based on agricultural production. Environmental factors, like drought and severe weather conditions, affect the economy’s predictability and stability. Additionally, production tools are outdated, infrastructure is inadequate, and financing is absent.

Benin’s economy is largely dependent  on informal re-export and transit trade with Nigeria, which makes up about 20 percent of the country’s GDP. Informal labor employs over 90 percent of the country’s labor force and makes up roughly 65 percent of the overall GDP. According to the World Bank, “events in Nigeria can have considerable impact on Benin and create uncertainty in its fiscal space.” African Economic Outlook has reported that the recent economic slowdown in Benin is in part due to lower growth in Nigeria.

Recent Attempts at Reducing Poverty

Benin has been formally trying to fight poverty since 1999. In 2000, the country implemented the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy (I-PRS). It  then enacted the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS 1) for 2003-2005, the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS 2) for 2007-2009, and most recently the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS 3) for 2011-2015.

These strategies aimed to bolster the rural economy, control demographic growth, reduce gender inequality, strengthen basic infrastructure, and enrich a microcredit policy–especially for women. Some progress has been measured, with Benin’s Doing Business ranking moving from 158th in 2015 to 155th in 2016.

Building a Diverse Economy from Within

With reliance on Nigeria and agriculture, Benin has the opportunity to improve its business environment from within, becoming more attractive to domestic and foreign investors. Increasing access to credit and infrastructure, such as electricity, will also be key in generating and sustaining business development.

Continuing its efforts to ensure the equal geographical distribution of resources, including access to health and education, and increasing economic opportunities for women will be instrumental for Benin to overcome the steady level of poverty its people have been facing.

 

Joseph Dover

Photo: Flickr