© Helvetas / Flurina Rothenberger


Benin is one of the most stable democracies in all of Africa. But many people here live in extreme poverty, and only a minority can read and write. Helvetas focuses its efforts in Benin on education and occupational integration — especially for young people — and on the supply of clean drinking water and a better sanitary infrastructure.
© Helvetas / Flurina Rothenberger
  • Capital
  • Area
    114,763 km²
  • Poverty rate*
    53% of the population live under the poverty line of $1.90 per day
    Rank: 167 out of 188
  • Population
  • People supported per year
  • Thematic focus
    Private Sector Development
    WASH & Water Governance
    Education and Vocational Skills
* Source: UN Data

Helvetas has been active in Benin since 1995. This West African republic is relatively politically stable. And yet it has a lot of catching up to do in the areas of education and poverty reduction: roughly a third of the population lives in extreme poverty. Almost 60% of the adult population cannot read or write. Helvetas seeks to improve the quality of basic education and enable children who were previously excluded, or had to leave school early, to go (back) to school.

Swiss-style education system for Benin

Helvetas is also involved in vocational training in Benin. In short courses of technical training, young people learn an occupation for which there is a real demand in rural areas, such as carpenter or forester. We apply the tried and tested dual system used in Switzerland, combining classes in theory with practical training under expert guidance. The aim is also to promote farming and skilled trades among young people and make the most of the economic potential of these promising sectors. The education authorities are working with us to establish the vocational and continuing education programs as a state-approved system.

Drinking water for schools

Medical care is scarce in Benin: For 100,000 inhabitants there are only four doctors here – as against 200 in Switzerland. The infant mortality rate in Benin is one of the highest in the world. The lack of sanitation and poor hygiene are the main reasons so many infants get sick. This is why Helvetas provides support for the building and maintenance of drinking water supply systems, e.g. in schools. These systems are either hand-operated or driven by solar energy. A functional infrastructure alone, however, is not enough to improve public health: hygiene education is also essential, and an integral part of Helvetas’ sanitation projects.

Migration: A challenge for the authorities and population

Migration poses a formidable challenge to Benin and all of West Africa. Many young people leave their home temporarily or permanently for work and fertile land to farm. We support local authorities and migrants in their economic integration and in preventing conflicts with the local populations.

Visit the website of Helvetas Benin.

The country programme in Benin is co-funded by the SDC programme contribution.

Our Projects in Benin

 If you would like to know more about our work in Benin, click on each project for details.

Multimedia Stories from Africa

Yezina Overcomes Every Hurdle

Yezina won't let her handicap stop her. She wants to become a successful seamstress who decides her own life.

Benin’s Urban Farmers

Find out how the cultivation of organic vegetables has changed the daily life of many small farmers in Benin for the better.

Where the Sun Pumps the Water

How the construction of a solar pump has made life easier for the people of a small village in Mali.

WASH & Water Governance

The most vulnerable communities suffer from dirty and scarce water. Annually we help up to 500,000 people get new access to drinking water and basic sanitation.

Education and Vocational Skills

Lack of education perpetuates inequality because poor countries cannot compete economically without a skilled workforce.

Private Sector Development

Youth need access to reliable, fairly paid jobs to break the cycle of poverty. Helvetas creates partnerships and promotes policies that build more inclusive economies.

Quartier ’Les Cocotiers’, lot 648 D
Maison Gaza Issiaka
08 BP 1105 Cotonou

Phone: +229 21 30 21 99
E-Mail: benin@helvetas.org