WASHINGTON, January 25, 2019--The Board of the World Bank today approved an International Development Association (IDA)* grant of $90 million to support the government of Benin’s efforts to improve human development outcomes and, in the longer term, benefit from the demographic dividend.
Benin is a pre-demographic dividend country due to its high fertility, declining mortality and young age structure. Like countries in the Sahel region, Benin is lagging far behind in its demographic transition, with rapid population growth (2.6 percent) resulting from falling mortality and continued high fertility. If this demographic dynamic continues, Benin's population could double over the next 30 years, leading to increased pressure on social and economic expenses and the risk of further delaying a demographic transition and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Investing in the social and economic empowerment of adolescent girls is essential. Delaying early marriage and childbearing and improving access to secondary education and essential life skills for girls will help lower dependency ratios and increase young women’s and their future children’s human development outcomes and economic opportunity in the labor market. This will contribute toward strengthening Benin’s human capital and help prime the region for an economic dividend”, said Pierre Laporte, World Bank Country Director for Benin.
The regional Sahel Women’s Empowerment and Demographics Project --SWEDD (Additional Financing), including Benin, is a significant investment that will benefit poor communities in rural areas across Benin. The project aims to improve demand for reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent health and nutrition services. It will invest in the continued education of girls, enhance essential knowledge and economic opportunities for girls 10-19 years old, strengthen capacity for availability of qualified health workers and “last mile” delivery of essential commodities, including contraceptives, in hard to reach areas. It will also build capacity for demographic and socio-economic analysis to inform policy making and will help improve regional knowledge generation and sharing as well as regional capacity and coordination. The new project is fully aligned with the Government’s Action Plan (PAG) which aims to boost the country’s development through the reinforcement of its human capital. It also contributes to the World Bank Group’s Country Partnership Framework for Benin (2018-2023) which aims to provide Benin’s women with more economic power by mainstreaming women-focused activities in all its operations.
“This significant investment is in response to Benin’s desire to maximize beneficiaries and generate a step change in Benin. We are happy for the strong commitment at the country’s highest level for this new project which fully aligns with national ongoing priorities.”, added Katrina M. Sharkey, Country Manager for the World Bank in Benin.
Benin is the seventh country participating in the regional SWEDD project, alongside Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Mauritania, Mali and Niger.
* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 75 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.5 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $18 billion over the last three years, with about 54 percent going to Africa.