Though increasingly stable, Benin faces many challenges such as extreme corruption and a low adult literacy rate.*
In spite of recent economic growth, Benin remains one of the poorest nations in Africa and the world. Close to 10 million people live in Benin, many of whom still lack access to basic social services and remain dependent upon subsistence farming, which is threatened by climate change, further endangering already fragile livelihoods.
Formerly a French colony, Benin (then known as Dahomey), gained independence in 1960, and, after a brief stint of communism, is now very stable, despite widespread corruption. The coastal West African nation of Benin, bordered by Niger, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Togo, has one of the most stable democracies in all of Africa, though with very high levels of corruption.
Our Work in Benin
In Africa, The Hunger Project works to build sustainable community-based programs using the Epicenter Strategy. An epicenter is a dynamic center of community mobilization and action, as well as an actual facility built by community members. Through the Epicenter Strategy, 15,000-25,000 people are brought together as a cluster of rural villages, giving villages more clout with local government than a single village is likely to have while also increasing a community’s ability to collectively utilize resources. The epicenter building serves as a focal point where the motivation, energies and leadership of the people converge with the resources of local government and non-governmental organizations. Over an eight-year period, an epicenter addresses hunger and poverty and moves along a path toward sustainable self-reliance, at which point it is able to fund its own activities and no longer requires financial investment from The Hunger Project.
The Hunger Project – Benin is comprised of 18 epicenters. These epicenters serve an area of 138 villages and a population of 311,073. There are four broad phases through which all epicenter communities progress: Mobilization (I), Construction (II), Program Implementation (III) and Transition to Self-reliance (IV). Though the majority of the epicenters in Benin are in stage III of the epicenter process, four are in stage IV and one is in stage I. Three epicenters in Benin have graduated to self-reliance.
The Hunger Project has been working in Benin since 1997 and is currently empowering community partners in 19 epicenter areas to end their own hunger and poverty. Through its integrated approach to rural development, the Epicenter Strategy, The Hunger Project is working with community partners to successfully access the basic services needed to lead lives of self-reliance and achieve internationally agreed-upon markers of success, such as the Sustainable Development Goals.
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