1. Introduction

Cashew and shea respectively account for 7% and 1,23% of GDP (1) in Benin, employing more than 800.000 individuals, mostly rural women being collectors and artisanal processors. Despite being the country’s economic driving sectors, structural problems persist in both the cashew and shea sector, negatively impacting its potential for inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction, especially for rural women.

With a view to change this situation, the Civic Engagement Alliance has developed a strong partnership with civil society organizations (national and local), trade unions like DEDRAS, AKB, PASCiB and COSI and several international NGOs (such as GIZ, Helvetas, Technoserve). Some of these Beninese partners had already existing cooperation relationships with members of the Alliance (like Woord en Daad and CNV Internationaal).

The presence of the COSI trade union in this program contributes to broadening the lobbying and advocacy space for both sectors, and more specifically for decent work in cashew and shea. This trade union is part of the government and Trade Union Council for social dialogue, where it raises the issues on cashew and shea sectors. By working in this way, the program in Benin searches to create an enabling environment for an increased income and better labor conditions for cashew and shea workers and smallholders in especially the five poorest provinces (Atacora, Donga, Alibori, Borgou and Collines). At the same time Civic Engagement Alliance intends to help these sectors to become more competitive with improved access to fair and inclusive markets.

(1) CIA World Factbook visited 30/5/19

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