Canadian international assistance in Benin

Benin is a West African country with considerable assets. Its geopolitical position makes it key to ground transportation between the landlocked countries of the Sahel and the Atlantic Ocean, as well as with Nigeria. The country has significant agricultural and mining potential, an abundance of water resources and a highly skilled labour force. Civil society and the private sector demonstrate a high degree of initiative.

However, Benin still struggles with social and economic challenges that prevent it from implementing sustainable and inclusive development. Benin ranked 167th  out of 188 countries in the 2016 human development index of The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Almost half the population lives on less than US$1.90 per day. Strong demographic growth is impeding poverty reduction, especially in the rural regions.

Benin’s economy is based mainly on subsistence farming, cotton production and the re-export of foreign goods, particularly to neighbouring Nigeria. The country’s economy is unstable, primarily because its cotton production is subject to fluctuations in world markets.

Progress in democratic governance

Benin has made tremendous progress in democratic governance, particularly with the transparent and peaceful presidential elections held in 2006, 2011 and 2016. The government is also stepping up its efforts to reduce poverty and corruption, by building the capacity of legal authorities and promoting administrative and institutional reforms.

Although gender equality is a priority of the Government of Benin and a legislative framework was adopted in 2010, women remain under-represented in government bodies and in the formal sector of the economy. In 2013, the UNDP Gender Inequality Index ranked Benin 134th out of 148 countries. A family code was established in 2004 to improve respect for women’s rights, but those rights are still too often ignored.

Furthermore, Benin is facing some environmental problems: desertification in the northern part of the country and deforestation in the southern part. In 2014, about 44% of its people were living in cities, and the urban environment is vulnerable and has deteriorated.

Progress has been made in education, the fight against HIV/AIDS, the under-five mortality rate and access to drinking water. The primary scholarisation net rate, which wasover 96%  in 2015 according to UNESCO, is exceptionally high compared with other countries in West Africa.

Our international development assistance

Search the Project Browser to see how Canada supports development in Benin.

Canada’s international development program in Benin is aligned with the Government of Benin’s Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy. The aim of the strategy is to:

The goal of Canada’s international development program in Benin is to support the development of a business-friendly market and the development of micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses.

Support for administrative reform

Canada is providing significant support for microfinance activities, helping to stabilize the sector and monitor the institutions more effectively. This effort includes support for young entrepreneurs to obtain financial services and the development of small businesses that create jobs.

Canada will continue its support for administrative reform, with the expectation that streamlined public administration procedures will help create an environment conducive to economic growth in the country.

Progress on aid effectiveness

Benin adheres to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness

In 2010, the country received an average score for the principles of ownership and harmonization. The alignment of donors’ activities with national systems was deemed average or poor. Mutual accountability for achieving results should be strengthened.

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