11 March 2013

Benin: In Benin, Women Are Moving Past Human Trafficking

With help from the U.S. African Development Foundation, a group of women in Benin is working to improve food security and increase incomes for very poor households in a region troubled by the highest rates of child trafficking in the country.

With help from the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF), these women in Benin are working to improve food security and increase incomes for very poor households in a region troubled by the highest rates of child trafficking in the country. They are crafting a peanut byproduct into a snack to be sold in the community, generating modest returns while increasing nutrition.

They are part of the Kpondéhou Women's Group, whose name means "set an example" in the local Fon language. The group's founder, Juliette Ketehoundje, was abandoned by her family at age 13, as food supplies dwindled, and trafficked as an indentured laborer to a neighboring country. After years of hard labor away from her home, Juliette returned to her native village in the Zakpota Commune in central Benin, determined to spare families the horror and despair she experienced.

USADF supports a cereal bank that allows the women of the group to buy and store grain from the northern region when it is most plentiful and available at a modest price, as well as maintain a revolving fund for future seasons. Members also collectively produce a range of other products to generate ongoing income. With a simple multipurpose processing facility, they are able to press peanuts to produce peanut oil, fetching an attractive price in the local market. The peanut byproduct is then made into snacks and sold in the community.

Through these diverse efforts, household income in this community in Benin has increased significantly. But perhaps most important, villagers appreciate that the food security bodes well for themselves and their families -- one small step against the trafficking of child labor.

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