Image by Yulia Panevina/UN Women
  • Report
  • 6 April 2023

The P20 in Benin: Data to leave no one behind in Atakora and Donga

Based on consultations with partners, data analysis and workshops, this report presents recommendations for using data to reduce poverty in Atakora and Donga.

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Executive summary

A review of the latest data available in Atakora and Donga shows that there are significant challenges to address to ensure that no one is left behind.

Analysis of national poverty line data between 2015 and 2018 shows that monetary poverty in both departments increased, contrary to the national trend of a slight decrease. According to best estimates, poverty reduction has improved slightly since 2018.

Municipal-level data indicates that almost all municipalities in Atakora and Donga experienced an increase in monetary and non-monetary poverty between 2011 and 2015. No disaggregated estimates have been available since then. In 2015, the municipality of Copargo in Donga had the highest level of poverty in the country. At the departmental level, Atakora had the highest poverty rate in 2018.

Gender inequalities are a major concern for poverty reduction in Benin. Poverty is measured at the household level; however, women are more likely to live in poor households in Alibori, Donga and Borgou. More data is needed to explore deprivation at the individual level.

Data from the 2018 Harmonized Survey on Living Conditions of Households (EHCVM) shows that people experiencing poverty in Atakora and Donga have identified several key factors as main causes of poverty: lack of land, high cost of living, difficulty selling agricultural products, mismanagement/corruption, and lack of jobs.

Key informants referred to several other factors contributing to poverty in the north, including a lack of civil registration, school desertion, employability, lack of family planning, emigration, and climate change.

Based on regional workshops, key informant interviews and data analysis, key recommendations include increased data sharing about vulnerable populations, particularly on primary education; sharing data used for communal development plans and other local planning documents; and data disaggregation. Other important demands were made, such as conducting surveys of people living in poverty and taking their views into account; improving access to social welfare centres; and implementing planned activities to reach those at risk of being left behind.

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Development Initiatives (DI) collaborated with the consulting firm Le Baromètre, with the support of the Ministry of Development and Coordination of Government Action (MDC), the National Institute of Statistics and Demography (INStaD) and the Maison de la Société Civile (MdSC), to better understand the data and their role in leaving no one behind in six municipalities of Benin’s Atakora and Donga departments. This work is based on several years of collaboration between these actors, including a study carried out in 2019 on the P20 (people in the poorest 20%) in the departments of Alibori and Borgou.[1]

This report aims to provide an overview of the main observations from the in-depth consultations conducted by Le Baromètre with local government leaders, civil society organisations (CSOs) and local health and education staff in four municipalities of Atakora (Boukombé, Cobly, Kouandé and Tanguiéta) and two municipalities of Donga (Copargo and Ouaké). These municipalities were selected after consultation with the Ministry of Development, INStaD, Le Baromètre, the Maison de la Société Civile and Development Initiatives.

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Box 1

Leaving no one behind

The first Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) endorsed by all UN Member States in 2015 is to eradicate poverty in all its forms everywhere. The SDGs also commit countries to leave no one behind (LNOB) and to reach the furthest behind first. The Government of Benin has affirmed its commitment to these goals through the UN system, including through voluntary national reviews of its progress on SDGs in 2017, 2018 and 2020.

The UN guidance on "Leaving No One Behind" recommends collecting data to understand which populations are most likely to be excluded from progress measured across multiple dimensions. Data can provide insights into why people are being left behind, what needs to be done to include them, how to measure and track progress, and how to ensure accountability for leaving no one behind.[2]

The commitment to equality, fairness and non-discrimination is at the heart of the promise to “leave no one behind”. Certain populations are generally considered to be at greater risk of being left behind, including women and girls, persons with disabilities, religious and ethnic minorities, older persons, people living in poverty and people living in areas subject to environmental shocks, among others. These people may be left behind for social, political, economic or environmental reasons.

Implicit in the LNOB approach is the need to go beyond averages and examine disaggregated data according to the dimensions in which exclusion may occur. This data needs to be discussed with local stakeholders to explore observations and needs, and policies need to be developed to promote inclusion. Once inclusive policies are in place, disaggregated analysis is needed to monitor their effects.

This report builds on a commitment to better understand data on those at risk of being left behind.

These consultations collectively showed the challenges and opportunities that exist for Benin's commitment to development, the SDGs, and the promise to leave no one behind, as well as the potential of disaggregated data to identify needs and measure progress.

In 2021, the Government of Benin published its second Government Action Programme (PAG), which covers the period 2021–2026. The PAG provides objectives to the government and its partners, and supports the National Development Plan (2018–2025), the targets set by the government for the SDGs, as well as the African Union's Agenda 2063.

The current PAG is based on three main pillars:

  • Strengthening democracy, the rule of law and good governance;
  • Continuing structural transformation of the economy;
  • Improving the social well-being of populations.

The PAG lists the axes and programmes to be implemented to support the three pillars. It estimates that its axes and programmes will reduce the proportion of people living in poverty to 36.5% by 2026, a decrease of two percentage points compared to the 2019 baseline.[3]

This report aims to support the government’s commitment to leave no one behind in the context of the SDGs, as well as its efforts under pillar 3 of the PAG, which includes the following axes: “supporting access to basic social services and social protection" and “supporting the sustainable and equitable development of national spaces".

In the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Co-operation Report 2018, Senior Minister Abdoulaye Bio Tchané writes: “Our strategy and partnership for the poorest 20% is one of the pillars of the broader efforts of the Government of Benin to ensure that no one is left behind, both economically and in terms of health and well-being. Several of Benin’s policies to reduce inequalities have been in place for many years. However, the government is renewing efforts in these policy areas with a stronger focus on the P20, while new programmes are being designed to reduce development gaps and focus on those most at risk of being left behind."[4]

At the time of this study, several ongoing crises are likely to widen inequality and leave people behind, including the Covid-19 pandemic, global commodity price shocks related to the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, climate change and inflation. Monitoring progress, especially for people living in poverty, is key to identifying ongoing challenges and priorities so that no one is left behind.

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Development Initiatives (DI) produced this report with the support of the Ministry of Development and Coordination of Government Action (MDC), Le Baromètre, and the Maison de la Societé Civile (MdSC). This report is part of DI's Poverty and Inequality Programme, which receives funding from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

Consultants from Le Baromètre played a key role in conceptualising this report and contributed to it by conducting interviews with key informants.

This report reflects the discussions and recommendations resulting from two workshops that were held in March 2023 in Natitingou (Atakora) and in Djougou (Donga). The Directorate General for the Coordination and Monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals (DGCS-SDGs) of the MDC, Le Baromètre and the Maison de la Société Civile have largely contributed to the organisation and execution of these workshops.

We thank the Departmental Director of Development of Atakora and the Prefect of Donga for welcoming us to their respective premises for these workshops. We are also grateful for the attendance of the Departmental Director of Development of Donga and the representative of the Prefect of Atakora.

We also thank the representatives of the National Institute of Statistics and Demography (INStaD) and the Ministry of Digital Economy and Communications (MND) for their participation in the workshops.

We would like to thank all those who participated in the workshops, as well as those who took part in key informant interviews, for volunteering their time and sharing their knowledge and perspectives.