The West African nation of Benin has experienced one of the most stable democracies in all of Africa. Despite this and recent economic growth, Benin remains one of the poorest nations in Africa and the world. Close to ten million people live in Benin and many still lack access to basic social services and remain dependent upon subsistence farming.
The Hunger Project has been working in Benin since 1997 and is currently empowering partners in 17 epicenter communities to end their own hunger and poverty. Through its integrated approach to rural development, the Epicenter Strategy, The Hunger Project is working with partners to successfully access the basic services needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and lead lives of self-reliance.
Increasing Food Security
The Hunger Project-Benin empowers and support farmers with trainings and materials to increase and diversify their food production. While Benin does not suffer from major droughts or floods, there is nevertheless a great shortage of food.
Food banks at the epicenter, village and household levels help communities stay food secure in case of a shortage. The Hunger Project-Benin has launched a pilot project, The Food Production Contest, which has successfully catalyzed partners' commitment to the end of hunger in poverty by increasing stocks in community food banks.
Improving Health and Hygiene
Epicenter health centers provide primary health care and immunizations. They also teach men and women how to improve their health and hygiene.
The Hunger Project-Benin has pioneered a family Planning and Nutritional Monitoring Community Dialogue Project in an effort to preserve the health of both women and children in the community. When births are spread out, children are invariably healthier and women have more time and energy to invest in their income-generating activities.
In the first half of 2012, THP-Benin successfully partnered with the Ministry of Education in Benin to carry out Functional Adult Literacy classes. THP-Benin received US $42,000 in funding to implement these activities, and exceeded its target of 1,400 people trained by fully training 1,525 adults, of which 75 percent were women.
In an effort to ensure that girl children stay in school, The Hunger Project-Benin implemented a Mother's Club which sensitizes women to the benefits of sending girls to school. The program has seen notable results such as a reduction in local child trafficking as well as an increase in literacy rates.
Through its Microfinance Program in the first half of 2012, The Hunger Project-Benin disbursed loans totaling US $292,571. 8,967 active partners, 85% of which are female, in Benin deposited $172,747 in savings during the year. Of the 17 epicenters that are operating in Benin, four have government-recognized Rural Banks.