The context

The Republic of Benin is a French-speaking country in West Africa, at 166th place among 188 countries in the 2015 Human Development Index. The project is concentrated in the department of Atacorà, located in the north-west, on the border with Togo and Burkina Faso, and in particular, in four of the nine municipalities of which it is composed.

For several decades, the department has been heavily dependent on the cotton production system, which has discouraged communities from investing in agricultural food production. Now, after the decline of the subsidised cotton system, communities are looking for a differentiation in production and the local government itself has begun to promote and invest in agricultural food supply chains.

The daily caloric needs coverage for most of the population does not exceed 1,300 kcal instead of the 2,400 minimum necessary for an active adult. This mainly affects rural populations, of which 33% are unable to meet their minimum nutritional requirements. Children are the most vulnerable category: more than two-fifths of children under five years of age suffer from growth retardation. 39% cases of infant mortality are linked to malnutrition.

The intervention proposed here is the result of a long journey that sees Mani Tese active in the department of Atacorà with projects in support of organized women’s groups since 2009. Initially were supported 9, then 14, and finally 27 groups, focusing on those already engaged in the manioc chain.


Boukoumbé, Dipartimento di Atakora, Benin


Kouandé, Dipartimento di Atakora, Benin


Natitingou, Dipartimento di Atakora, Benin


Toucountouna, Dipartimento di Atakora, Benin

The Objectives

The 12-month project aims to strengthen women’s capacities and encourage their participation in rural development, in particular by improving the opportunities for vulnerable women to carry out income-generating activities and by strengthening 33 groups of women engaged in the production, processing and marketing of manioc, soya and fonio.

The project also has its own training and awareness-raising component in Italy for immigrant women from Benin and the Italian population, in particular in the province of Treviso.

Project Details



Department of Atacorà, municipalities of Boukoumbé, Kouandé, Natitingou e Toucountouna,Treviso,


Over 2,300 women and men in Benin and Italy

The Activities

Improving opportunities for vulnerable groups of women.

Involves five self-help groups for a total of 150 people, who meet weekly to share the common difficulties and to manage a small savings and credit fund. They, assisted by a two-day training course for each group, which will help them to structure the group, set up a management committee and manage their economic activities in the best possible way.

Development of savings and revolving credit. The same women’s groups will receive a €6,000 savings and revolving credit fund for income-generating activities, managed by Caritas Natatingou.

Strengthening of 33 women’s groups engaged in the production, processing and marketing of food chains.

Strengthening the production of fonio. Fonio is a cereal traditionally grown in Benin and very rich from a nutritional point of view. Ten groups of women will be involved in farming one hectare for each group, providing them seeds for the first year and agricultural tools.

Realization of units for the transformation of manioc, soy and fonio. We will build two units for the transformation of manioc into gari and tapioca, four units for the transformation of soya and two units for the fonio. Each unit will involve multiple groups.

Training in the marketing of manioc derivatives. These are three courses in three different areas, each lasting 5 days.

Training on access to credit. A 2-day course on how to apply and how to manage immediately a credit, held in each of the 15 groups, which operate in the transformation of manioc.

Strengthening and networking of different groups. After adequate training of the heads of the 15 groups working in the transformation of manioc, a departmental Union will be established.

Seminar about local economic development. Directed to local authorities and group representatives, it will last 2 days. It will serve to bring out the impact of women’s groups in the local economic development of the area.

Training and awareness raising in Italy.

Training for immigrant women. It will consist of five meetings with women from Benin and the African diaspora, and will aim to strengthen their inclusion in their new social context, as well as their role within the community to which they belong.

Training about oral tradition and African music. In 2 days, people from Benin and Italian men and women will deepen the theme of intercultural.

Realization of a theatre performance. The show, titled “The night of the Griot” and offered at the end of the activities, will be an opportunity to spread different African cultures through artistic expression.

Project Partners: