72% of Benin’s population live in poverty and nearly 20% are undernourished. In rural areas, only 4% of people have access to sanitation facilities. Drinking water is also scarce, with 31% forced to use water from unimproved sources.
In 2010, Benin suffered some of its worst-ever flooding, causing thousands of people to abandon their homes and tremendous damage to buildings and crops. This has worsened the already critical food situation.
Children in Benin
Nearly 50% of the country’s population is less than 14 years old and of every 1,000 live births, 121 children never reach the age of five. The number of children who grow up without parental care amounts to a shocking 310,000. Many of these children have lost their parents due to AIDS. Mother-to-child-transmission of HIV is a persistent problem, as 32,000 women in Benin are HIV-positive.
In addition to this, often children have to work in order to financially support their families and so cannot go to school. Not being able to go to school because of work seriously diminishes their chances of leading a better life once they become adults.
Our Work in Benin
Our work in Benin began in 1985, when an official agreement was signed with the Beninese government. We received a plot of land in Abomey-Calavi, about 17km from the country’s largest city, Cotonou. SOS Children’s Villages decided to support Beninese children and families for various reasons. On one hand, the country and its people suffer from extraordinarily high levels of poverty. On the other, many children are cast out for traditional reasons of belief. Children are sometimes accused of witchcraft and a number of ‘child-witch’ killings have been documented in Benin.
In the northern parts of Benin, access to medical services, education and food is particularly difficult. We have been trying to relieve this precarious situation through its existing programmes
The acute need for care facilities for orphaned and abandoned children led to the charity's construction of its first community in 1987 at Abomey-Calavi. The Village is now home to over 100 children. The Village runs a nursery and a primary school, as well as a secondary school specialising in arts and music. These provide local children and children from SOS families with a chance of obtaining an education and thus improving their future prospects.
Benin's second SOS Children's Villages' community came about in 1999 as the result of a particular problem with children being abandoned because of traditional beliefs. The Village has 12 family houses which are home to 100 children. Through our social centre, we support local families at risk of breaking apart with everything from food packages and medical support to job-skills training and awareness of children’s rights. Since 2010, an SOS medical centre provides the local community with much needed access to medical examinations and treatments
A third Village in the city of Dassa-Zoumé opened in 2006. There are 12 family houses for 120 children. The SOS nursery and primary school provide daily care and basic education to SOS children and the local community. More than 2000 patients are treated yearly at the SOS medical centre, which cooperates closely with existing local health authorities on vaccination programmes and HIV /AIDS campaigns.
SOS Villages d’Enfants Bénin
Tel: +229 95 45 25 76
Fax: +229 21 360712