Image by GPE/Chantal Rigaud
  • Report
  • 4 May 2020

The P20 in Benin: From consultation to consensus: Chapter 2


Share section


While Benin has experienced economic growth over the past few years and has been carrying out key economic and structural reforms, the country ranks among the world's poorest countries. Benin saw its gross domestic product (GDP) grow from 5.7% in 2017 to 6.7% in 2018 according to INSAE. The World Bank’s Global Economic Prospect estimate 6.4% growth in GDP for 2019 and 6.7% growth per year for the next three years.

As of 2015, the World Bank estimated that 49% of the Benin population lived below the extreme poverty line of $1.90 per person per day. About 67% of the population lives in multidimensional poverty according to the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative’s Multidimensional Poverty Index. This estimate is based on analysis of indicators in the 2017−2018 Demographic and Health Survey. 41% of Benin’s population is estimated to be experiencing severe multidimensional poverty. The Multidimensional Poverty Index recognises that people can experience poverty across different aspects of their lives and it measures poverty in housing, education, health and household assets in a combined index.[1] When assessing progress on dimensions of health, education and standard of living, Benin has a Human Development Index score of 0.520, ranking it 163rd in 2018.

With a population of about 11.88 million people,[2] Benin is experiencing a rapid population growth rate − 2.88% for 2018[3] − and has one of the youngest populations in the world with 47% of the population younger than 15.[4] This population growth provides opportunities and challenges related to demographic shifts.

INSAE reports that the 2018 GDP for Benin was 7,844 billion CFA francs.[5] Recent revisions with support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) led to a re-evaluation of the GDP with an increase of 35.7% for the base year of 2015. A note from INSAE[6] indicates that the revisions better capture commerce in agriculture, fisheries, the informal economy, gasoline brought across the border, and other factors.

Benin ranks 127th out of 157 countries in the World Bank’s Human Capital Index with the index suggesting that a child born in Benin today would be 41% as productive as they could be at adulthood if they had full education and health. The World Bank estimates this productivity as a component of the human capital index. The index takes a value of 1 only if a child born today can expect to have full health and education. This is defined as having no stunting and surviving up to age 60 and having 14 years of high-quality schooling by age 18. The index attempts to measure how far from those goals the population is.[7]

Benin continues to face several development challenges. It is classified as a Heavily Indebted Poor Country with the 2018 debt-to-GDP ratio estimated at 56.8%.[8]

Share section

Policies to leave no one behind in Benin

"We’re the first to apply the P20 approach, here in Benin, along with Switzerland − and I think if we’re able to incorporate the P20 into our local planning we can really make it so that no one will be left behind." Charles Lougoudou, Head of Alibori Branch, Bethesda International

The government of Benin has been active in incorporating the SDGs into its national planning frameworks and is engaging on ways to accelerate progress. It has presented voluntary national reviews (VNRs)[9] of progress against the SDGs to the UN in 2017 and 2018. Benin is one of two African countries which took part in a costing exercise on financing needed to achieve the SDGs in education, water and sanitation and health. The IMF estimated that an additional 21.3% of real GDP needed to be spent per year to achieve the SDGs in Benin.[10]

The 2017 VNR highlighted that 49 SDG targets had been established and that 60−70% of the SDG targets had been incorporated into national policies and strategies. Furthermore, the Ministry of Planning and Development has established thematic workgroups to work with stakeholders and a General Directorate in charge of SDG Coordination and Monitoring (DG-CS) to coordinate efforts.

The 2018 VNR outlined how national planning documents map to the SDG targets beyond the implementation targets. These include the government’s Action Programme (Programme d’Actions du Gouvernement – PAG) which outlines its flagship initiatives, sectoral policies and reform plan for the period 2016−2021[11] and the National Development Plan[12] (Plan National de Developpement – PND) which is being operationalised over the period of 2018−2025 with support from technical and financial partners through the programme of growth and sustainable development (Programme de Croissance pour le Developpment Durable – PC2D 2018−2021).

The 2018 VNR also highlighted four major areas of government activities to leave no one behind:

  1. Social protection for all
  2. Social safety nets for the most vulnerable
  3. Legislation for the most vulnerable
  4. Geographically balanced development initiatives.

The government’s Action Programme aims to favour not only productivity and innovation but equally social inclusion, access to drinking water and education. A key initiative is the Assurance pour le Renforcement du Capital Humain (ARCH) which aims to provide health insurance, professional training, microcredit and pensions for those at risk of being left behind.

The National Development Plan (PND) set the goal of inclusive sustained growth of at least 10% by 2025 through improvements in agroindustry, tourism, and local and national governance with improvements in human capital and infrastructure.

A 2019 evaluation of progress towards the Programme de Croissance pour le Developpement Durable identified some progress towards goals in several sectors but also significant challenges and in sectors such as health and education.[13] Human capital – health and education – are key priorities for the government but are also areas of notable challenges in Benin. These sectors warrant further exploration separately.


Providing universal healthcare has been an objective for the government for decades. Currently the government has several programmes to reduce inequalities in healthcare and to ensure that vulnerable populations receive adequate care. The Ministry of Health has focused on providing malaria treatment and prevention for children under five and pregnant women. The government has also sought to decrease infant mortality and improve maternal health by increasing access to healthcare and covering the costs of caesarean sections. The government has also completed the form on the ban on double practice (which prohibits doctors from serving in both the public and private sectors).

The government has made many efforts to improve health in the country through laws, decrees and bans. They have notably worked on improving sanitation of the pharmaceutical sector, countered fake drugs, reorganised work houses for health workers in public health centres, strengthened the technical platforms for reference hospitals and improved working conditions (through bonuses and penalties, among other interventions). Despite these efforts, public health workers sometimes find it difficult to provide services to people in need. The ARCH programme has been joined with several initiatives to increase health resources for communities with the highest need and, if fully implemented, could increase the resources available for families to address financial shocks related to healthcare.


Benin’s efforts to encourage improved enrolment rates and outcomes have focused on leaving no one behind. There have been two major policy focuses on this in primary education. Benin has made primary education enrolment mandatory for school-aged children. Additionally, the government has provided free school meals in school canteens in certain localities. Government priorities have focused further on increasing access to education for those who have left schooling, providing certification programmes for those in trades, improving access to facilities for those with disabilities, and building schools in areas with lower enrolment rates. The government has also worked to improve education outcomes through a programme for teacher and instructor training. Furthermore, the government has produced a programme for strengthening human resources and recruiting new teachers. Despite these efforts, as described in more detail below, enrolment rates have recently declined. Some of the biggest declines in enrolment occurred in the north. Focusing on the P20 could help identify potential solutions for these trends.