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

Centered between the countries of Nigeria and Togo, Benin resides on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean with a population of roughly 10 million. Education in Benin has been free for 10 years.

Benin has maintained a strong, democratic-style government since 1990 when it changed its name to the Republic of Benin. BBC News called the country “one of Africa’s most stable democracies.” Although Benin has a stable government, the country still faces plenty of issues.

Among these issues was the near-collapse of the economy in 1988, a 50 percent currency devaluation that caused inflation in 1994 and devastating floods that destroyed 55,000 homes, killed tens of thousands of livestock and displaced 680,000 people in 2010.

However, education in Benin has proved to be one of the bright spots of the nation’s domestic affairs.

Here are five facts about education in Benin:

  1. Education in Benin was declared free during an educational forum that took place in 2007. With free education, students are able to access Benin’s educational system that operates under 6-4-3-3-4 format. Students are taught in French, the primary language of the country, to start their educational journey by attending six years of primary school, followed by four years of junior high school, then three years senior high school, three years of a bachelor’s degree and finish with four years of a master’s degree. However, for students to pass junior high school, they must take the O-Level exam or Brevet d’Etudes du Premier Cycle: BEPC, and for students to pass senior high school, they must pass the A-level exam or Baccalauréat: BAC, which is the equivalent of a U.S. high school diploma.
  2. Education in Benin follows a numbered grading system. Similar to the letter-grading system, the number grading system ranges from 10 to 20 to determine a student’s level of classroom production. Averaging a 10 is good enough for a passing grade, 12 is a fairly good grade, 14-15 is a good grade, 16-17 is a very good grade and to score a 20 is excellent.
  3. Statistics of education in Benin demonstrate uneven gender enrollment, with the gross primary enrollment rate for boys at 88.4 percent opposed to 55.7 percent for girls, according to a survey conducted in 1996. Male students also maintain a better literacy rate between the ages of 15 and 24, with a 54.9 percent literacy rate, compared to female students who have a literacy rate of just 30.8 percent. The gap between male and female literacy rates worsens out of school, with the overall adult literacy at 40 percent, while only 25 percent of women are literate. Benin also ranks 35th out of 117 countries for having the most girls out of school, with 142,178 females not enrolled in primary or secondary school.
  4. State funding is the primary funding for education in Benin, and yet Benin saw a decline of the national budget towards educational spending between 1993 and 1999 when the percent of the national budget used for education dropped from 21.5 percent to 15.6 percent. However, during that same time span, primary education rose within the education budget from comprising 53 percent in 1993 to 60 percent in 1998.
  5. Education in Benin has also evolved into a variety of educational reforms. One of the earliest reforms took place in 1975 and was named a “new school” system, in hopes to democratize education, add more practical subjects to the curriculum and adapt to local conditions. Although the reform was beneficial for the first couple of years, the new school system reform was impacted by national and social crisis near the end of the 1980s that recorded a dropout rate of 31 percent in 1988 and 1989. Seven years later in 1996, the Government of Benin reconstructed the declaration on population policy. The impact of the revival of the national constitution was intended to support priorities in education, including progressively free-of-charge access to education, guaranteed equal opportunity for all and the fight against dropping out, especially for girls.

With all this said, education in Benin still faces an array of issues such as providing equal opportunity for education to women. Benin has made dramatic attempts to assure educational equality for all and needs to continue to put programs in place to ensure the future success of their educational system.

Patrick Greeley

Photo: Flickr