Skip to content
Key findings
  • Almost all Beninese (97%) reported that they or someone in their family went without a cash income at least once during the year preceding the 2020 survey. Large majorities also experienced shortages of medical care (78%), clean water (66%), and food (64%).
  • More than three-quarters (78%) of citizens experienced moderate or high levels of lived poverty during the previous year, up from 51% in 2011.
  • Moderate/high poverty was far more common in rural areas (86%) than in cities (68%). Women (81%) and citizens without formal education (82%) were somewhat more likely to experience moderate/high poverty than men (75%) and more educated citizens (66% of those with post-secondary qualifications).
  • The regions of Atacora (91%), Couffo (88%), and Collines (86%) had the highest rates of moderate/high poverty.
  • Citizens experiencing moderate or high poverty were less likely than their better-off counterparts to live in formal or non-traditional houses (55% vs. 75%). They were twice as likely as the non-poor to live in traditional houses or huts (36% vs. 18%).

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, launched in 2015, outlines global aspirations and priorities through the end of this decade. Prominently, the first two Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call for ending poverty “in all its forms everywhere” and for “zero hunger” (United Nations, 2021a).

The proportion of the world’s population living in extreme poverty decreased from 36% in 1990 to 16% in 2010 and to 10% in 2015, but the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have reversed this trend (Sumner, Hoy, & Ortiz-Juarez, 2020).

Benin has had one of the fastest-growing economies in sub-Saharan Africa in recent years (Adegoke, 2019), with per-capita gross domestic product (GDP) growth averaging 3.6% between 2017 and 2019 (World Bank, 2020). But the most recent household survey led by the Institut National de la Statistique et de l’Analyse Economique (2018) estimated that 38.5% of citizens still live in poverty. Are GDP gains translating into better lives for ordinary Beninese?

According to Afrobarometer survey findings, “lived poverty” – the experience of going without basic life necessities – has worsened significantly over the past decade in Benin. More than three out of four Beninese face moderate or high levels of lived poverty.

Many of these citizens continue to have limited access to the electricity grid, water and sanitation services, and other essential development infrastructure. Most importantly, our analysis shows they often lack the education and employment needed to break the poverty cycle.

Romaric Samson

Romaric Samson is the co-national investigator for Benin.

Richard Houessou

Richard is the project manager for Francophone Africa