Even though the West African country of Benin is stable democracy, it still remains one of the poorest nations in Africa and the world. According to The Hunger Project, “close to nine million people live in Benin and many still lack access to basic social services…remain(g) dependent upon subsistence farming.
Even though Benin does not suffer from the droughts or floods of its African neighbors, there is still a great shortage of food. Most affected by this shortage are the sixteen percent of Benin citizens who live in extreme poverty. Also greatly at risk are the children of Benin, who The World Food Programme estimates that 37 percent under five are “stunted” from the affects of acute malnutrition.
The food issue is gender related as well: Women-headed households are greatly affected by food insecurity due to a generally low level of education. Compounding Benin’s food shortage include influxes of refugees from neighboring Togo, degradation of farmland and high food prices on the global market. Imports from Niger and Nigeria undercut the local maize markets, while actions are being taken by the government to “boost local production in order to increase its competitiveness” against rice from East Asia. Microfinance has been effective in helping the impoverished of Benin, according to The Hunger Project, which has distributed over one million dollars in small loans at a repayment rate of 87%.