Benin - Country Portrait - currently not CmiA-certified
- Area: 112,622 square kilometers
- Population (2014): 9.8 million
- Independent: since 1960
- Capital: Porto Novo
- Form of government: Presidential system; Constitution from 1990
- Average life expectancy (as of 2012): 56.5 years
- Illiteracy rate: 57.6% (population over 15 years)
- Top 3 export goods: Cotton, peanuts, shea butter
- Number of "Cotton made in Africa" farmers: Due to changes of framework conditions in the cotton sector made by the Beninese government in 2012/2013, verification of CmiA cotton from Benin has currently been put on hold because compliance and traceability of CmiA sustainability criteria could no longer be guaranteed. However, in order to continue to support the cotton farmers and their families, training programs for smallholder farmers will be continued as well as the cooperation project to improve the school infrastructure in the country.
- Average family size of a cotton farmer: 8.5 people
- Benin is known for: Voodoo
Benin is located in West Africa. The small country shares borders with Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Togo and to the south, is the Ocean and the Gulf of Guinea. The climate is divided into two areas geographically: The north is dominated by a dry South-Sahelian climate, the south by a tropical, humid climate.
In Cotonou, the main town on Benin's coast, and the country's economic center, trade in used cars is a booming business. But the impression of a thriving economic life in the bustling city does not show the whole truth: According to the Human Development Index, Benin is one of the poorest countries in the world. It is ranked 166 of 187 countries. Almost half of the population lives in extreme poverty. This means they live on less than $1.25 per day. The country is heavily in debt and suffers from its poor economic infrastructure. As a result, the main focus of governmental policy is on fighting poverty and promoting economic development.
Around two-thirds of Benin's population is employed in agriculture. Farmers primarily grow corn, cassava, yams, sweet potatoes, and legumes for their own consumption and for the local market. Cashew nuts and pineapples are major export products, but Benin's biggest export is cotton. The dependence on agriculture and especially on cotton exports, which account for up to three-quarters of export revenue, makes Benin as a country sensitive to the impact of the regional climate as well as global market prices. The agricultural sector thus plays a key role in the fight against poverty in Benin. CmiA's goal is therefore to boost the output of Benin's agriculture. This should ensure food security for the po¬pulation, support economic development and thus more effectively combat poverty.
In addition to the agricultural sector, CmiA supports the development of school infrastructure in the rural cotton growing areas together with partners in the public and private sectors.
In addition, the star and fashion photographer Albert Watson was commissioned by the Aid by Trade Foundation to visit the West African country to photograph the people at the heart of CmiA, far away from any stereotypes. The images were then on exhibit as part of a large retrospective at the Hamburg Deichtorhallen in Hamburg, Germany. Additionaly, they have been showcased in the framework of the exhibition "Albert Watson: 14 days in Benin" in the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum in Cologne, Germany.
Sources: Human Development Report 2013 (UN); The World Fact Book 2014, Auswärtiges Amt 2013; World Development Indicators 2014;2010-2014 Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ) Digitale Kommunikation Referat L 5.