The main purpose of this Poverty Assessment is to complement the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). It aims at providing the Government with a more solid base on which to shape a poverty reduction strategy. To do so it focuses on analyzing the areas left open by the PRSP, which have mostly to do with the lack of reliable and detailed information on the characteristics, incidence and dynamics of poverty today. A household survey (the CWIQ) was conducted in early 2003 to obtain quantitative data that provide a basis for up to date estimates. At the same time, a qualitative study based on participatory fieldwork provided insight into the perceptions of the poor themselves as well as a deeper understanding of the phenomenon. The report is organized in five chapters (excluding the overview): Chapter 2 looks at poverty mostly from a macro- economic perspective. I t first focuses on the recent (1987-2000) economic growth of the country, pointing at the main factors that may explain the performance of Benin's economy. It then looks at the national data available on poverty (in terms of consumption levels and assets) and at inequality. The chapter concludes with simulations of the impact of economic growth on poverty reduction, and a look at the government's PRSP and the likelihood that Benin will reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). Chapter 3 focuses on poverty at the household level, and is introduced by a brief description of how the poor perceive poverty. An analysis of the characteristics (or determinants) of poverty is followed by an examination o f the sources of inequality and by an analysis of poverty as vulnerability, looking at the major risks facing the poor. After surveying the geographical distribution of poverty and vulnerability, the chapter examines how poverty affects the life of people living in cities, how it particularly impacts children, and the survival strategy of the poor. Chapter 4 tries to shed some light on rural poverty by looking at the way in which agro-ecological characteristics, and socioeconomic factors and policies interact. Particular attention is paid to cotton, given its importance for the country. Chapter 5 concludes with a series of policy recommendations for the development of the agricultural sector in the perspective of poverty reduction. This chapter examines the poor's access to education, health care, nutrition, and water and sanitation. An overview of the situation and main challenges in each sector is followed by an analysis of government policies and suggestions for improving access by the poor to these basic needs. Chapter 6 reviews the existing sources of information on poverty and the poverty monitoring system presently in place to conclude suggestions for improving the availability and explanations of information needed to monitor the PRSP implementation, and more in general to facilitate social accountability.