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One of the Eldis RSS newsfeeds on major development issues

Copyright: Copyright ©2013 Eldis, Sussex

Assessing Mozambique's PARP/A 2006-2011: local perspectives

21 Jun 2013 02:46:18 GMT

Six years of impressive economic growth and classical poverty reduction policies in Mozambique have demonstrated the limited extent to which this has ‘trickled down’ to the local level – with the country falling on the Human Development Index and poverty reduction having come to a complete halt. Important progress has been made in public administration, physical infrastructure, education and health, but deep structural changes will be necessary in order to generate employment and income and reach the 55 percent of all Mozambicans who remain poor.

This briefing looks at attempts to reduce poverty on the basis of Poverty Reduction Strategies (‘Action Plan for the Reduction of Absolute Poverty’/ PARPA II 2006 to 2010’, and ‘Poverty Reduction Action Plan’/PARP 2011-2014’).

The author argues that overall, for further poverty reduction to take place, three main types of interventions will be necessary.

  • One is to remove the political and administrative coercion at local level by separating the government from party politics; give more space to the political opposition, accompany the current administrative decentralisation with fiscal decentralisation, and react more firmly against the pervasive small-scale corruption that inhibits local initiatives
  • a second is to focus on the removal of structural constraints for employment creation by facilitating rural-urban interaction through investments in infrastructure; support agriculture by promoting improved technologies through effective extension services and better access to agricultural markets; and improve access to credit for small-scale entrepreneurs by reinvigorating the Local Investment Fund
  • the third is by protecting the very poorest from destitution by targeting and improving interventions for social protection (government, civil society); starting experiments with different forms of cash/resource transfers to the poorest families; and by supporting women and/or female headed households in innovation and access to new markets in the informal economy in order to further their economic independence and hence the well-being of children

An analysis of the national budget: allocation for the ultra poor

13 Apr 2011 07:20:02 GMT

This dialogue report provides a view of poverty in Bangladesh. The country has been performing well from the growth perspective in the recent past as GDP growth rate has been on average of 5.8% per year during 2000-2010.

The report analyses the budgetary allowance for Social Safety Net Programmes(SSNP). It indicates that in recent years, the budget for SSNP has increased to about 15 percent, but only a limited number of the programmes are aimed at the ultra-poor.

Poverty reduction has also been in focus of Bangladesh development policy through:
  • Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers
  • Sixth Five Year Plan (SFYP) as well as other FYP
  • Outline Perspective Plan for 2010-2021
It recommends that sustainable poverty reduction requires:
  • broad-based employment generating economic growth
  • development of human capital to empower the poor to participate in the growth process.

The report was written based on field research in two districts in December 2010.

Establishing indicators for urban poverty-environment interaction in Tanzania: The case of Bonde la Mpunga, Kinondoni, Dar es Salaam

09 Oct 2009 11:57:43 GMT

This report is a case study of Bonde la Mpunga, a wetland in Dar es Salaam which was formerly used for rice growing. It is an area abundant in natural resources with fishing being the main economic activity. It is a sprawling unplanned place which continues to attract people because of cheap accommodation and its proximity to Dares Salaam.

The authors observe that demand for shelter exacerbates the proliferation of uncontrolled and unguided development reflected in house congestion. There is poor service delivery in terms of water supply, sanitation and waste disposal. There is a limited sense of responsibility from community members because the majority are tenants. The area is characterised by land grabbing and lack of security of tenure.

Despite poor environmental conditions in Bonde la Mpunga, at both community and household levels, residents have developed strategies to cope and earn a living. One strategy is to build cheap houses due to lack of security of tenure and land grabbing. Insecurity of tenure discourages landlords from investing to improve their land and services. This is dangerous because it exposes the residents to life threatening environmental shocks like floods. Another survival strategy residents employ is engaging in petty trade to make a living.

The following recommendations are made:
  • urban poverty environmental monitoring indicators should be included in the Poverty Reduction Strategic Papers to address the plight of living in informal settlements
  • local governments should formulate rules and regulations about unplanned urban areas and should motivate landlords to invest in better housing structures by giving them security of tenure
  • the areas for policy ‘leverage’ are to be found in legal, institutional and administrative structures and processes, with emphasis placed on land issues and effective housing policies.
The study concludes by suggesting areas of further research. It highlights the importance of finding out the capacity of men and women in vulnerable groups to cope with and respond to the stresses of poverty and environmental degradation. It also suggests the examination of the links between women’s positions with respect to poverty, environmental entitlements and environmental change by targeting female environmental managers.

Afghanistan without poverty: a plain language guide to poverty in Afghanistan

26 Jan 2009 04:10:10 GMT

Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world: approximately 53 percent of the population live below the poverty line, the average literacy rate is 28 percent and life expectancy just 43 years. In addition, some 136,000 people are estimated to be internally displaced. But what is the government’s approach to poverty reduction and what are its ongoing activities? In an attempt to build stakeholder support for it's initiatives the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR) has recently produced a plain language guide to increase public understanding of poverty and development initiatives in Afghanistan.

Divided into eight parts and including a glossary, the report describes the different types of poverty in Afghanistan, summarises poverty information for the country and outlines the key goals, benchmarks and targets of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS), the country’s first PRSP.

To qualify as a PRSP, the ANDS was formulated in consultation with the public. ACBAR also carried out a medium-scale poverty assessment – the Afghanistan Pilot Participatory Poverty Assessment (APPPA) - to include poor people’s voices in the ANDS. In 2007, the APPPA conducted research in 8 field sites over a period of 12 weeks using a range of communication tools. According to its findings, which are included in the report, the development priorities of the Afghan people are:

  • health and education services
  • clean drinking water
  • job opportunities
  • roads
  • irrigation and water storage facilities
  • security and rule of law
  • market access
  • regional government and reduced corruption
  • improved services for women and girls
  • disaster relief

The report encourages civil society actors to monitor the government’s delivery of the ANDS by working with the legislature to form pressure groups that can work with the government to ensure that progress towards ANDS targets is being met.

Are the MDGs priority in development strategies and aid programmes?

04 Nov 2008 10:15:09 GMT

There is much doubt whether the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will be realised but why is this? This paper asks whether the structure of national development programmes and aid strategies are undermining MDG priorities and targets.

The authors analysed 22 developing countries’ Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) along with the policy frameworks of 21 bilateral programmes, and principally considered:

  • which of the MDG priorities were reflected in the PRSPs?
  • were the PRSP quantitative targets in line with the ambition of the MDGs?
  • how was the PRSP using the MDGs? As a normative framework of broad priorities; as benchmarks in an evaluative framework; or as targets in a planning framework?

The paper’s findings/recommendations include:

  • economic growth for income poverty reduction and social sector investments (education, health and water) are important priorities in most of the PRSPs; decent work, hunger and nutrition, the environment and access to technology tend to be neglected
  • PRSPs were almost silent on the ethical values that are fundamental to the Millennium Declaration and the UN Development Agenda: equality, human dignity and freedom, and other human rights principles
  • PRSPs emphasise governance as an important means of achieving the MDGs, but they focus mostly on economic governance rather than on democratic (participatory and equitable)
    processes. Since the key motivation for the MDGs was to promote a more inclusive globalisation through participatory processes, the PRSPs are undercutting their core policy purpose
  • local adaptation is an essential part of the ownership of the MDGs. But most PRSPs use global
    goals/targets in the education, health, and water and sanitation sectors without significant local adaptation
  • much of the donor country support effort has gone to costing on the basis of global targets, rather than on the basis of locally adapted targets. Costing on the basis of global targets is useful for resource mobilisation and evaluation, but not for resource allocation

Linking the PRS with national budgets: a guidance note

25 Sep 2008 01:02:39 GMT

This article gives practical guidance to developing country practitioners and international donors working on low income countries. The article stresses the importance of linking Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) and a country’s national budget, whether at the formulation, execution, or reporting stage. It says that linking the budget and the poverty reduction strategy is integral to the successful implementation of the PRS and vital for strengthening government accountability. The article highlights three benefits which emerge when the two systems are well integrated, which are:
  • PRS priorities are more likely to be implemented as planned
  • spending agencies can be held to better account for performance
  • parliament can have an increased role in monitoring PRS outcomes
Despite these benefits, low-income countries face significant challenges in trying to better link planning and budgeting initiatives. These include fragmented institutional ownership and weak incentives, which have limited the ability of policymakers to link planning and budgeting processes. The article stresses on addressing these issues before linking the two systems, which would result in overcoming the challenges arising from translating poverty reduction strategies, into improved development outcomes.

Experiences of Uganda's PPA in implementing and monitoring poverty reduction

01 Sep 2008 12:04:50 GMT

Uganda’s Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP) incorporates poor people’s voices and perspectives. This paper focuses on the lessons learnt in the implementation of the PEAP by using examples from the Ugandan participatory poverty assessment process.

Key recommendations based on lessons learned include:
  • success of a partnership between civil society, government and other actors depends on each actor’s understanding of their role in the partnership
  • mechanisms for sustained engagement of the poor and other actors in the process are still very weak, it is therefore important design ways to ensure continued engagement
  • practitioners should ask themselves if empowerment of the poor is still a central objective of the poverty reduction strategy, and how it can be attained
  • invest in innovative ways of spending more in poverty reduction areas without expanding the debt volume
  • align monitoring frameworks to enhance coordination and to allow for more inclusion of actors

Al Hima: a way of life

16 Jul 2008 04:15:35 GMT

The Hima is a traditional system of resource tenure that has been practiced for more than 1400 years in the Arabian Peninsular. With the numerous deteriorations that came and halted advancement in the Arab world, and at times for different reasons, the Hima also declined. The progressive concepts of the Hima became hav been masked by the general regression suffered in the region and the recent advances accomplished by other countries, civilizations and people. This digital book brings back recognition for the positive contributions that traditional knowledge and ingenious approaches of this region had brought and can still give to development and conservation.

The book presents these traditional approaches as a tool that existed and can still exist to advance the conservation and poverty paradigms and to meet upcoming challenges related to conflicts and climate change, as the concept of Hima emphasises is closely linked to resilience. The authors outline how the most successful revival attempts to date have taken place in Lebanon where the Hima efforts aim to complement conservation efforts not to replace them. Various other regional advances are discussed in countries including Iran and Indonesia.

The authors highlight that to be Hima, a protected area should:

  • be constituted by a legitimate authoritative body
  • be established in the Way of God, for purposes pertaining to public welfare
  • not cause undue hardship to local people and not deprive them of resources that are indispensable to their subsistence
  • realise greater actual benefits to society than detriments

Mainstreaming nutrition in poverty reduction strategy papers: what does it take?

10 Jun 2008 10:57:02 GMT

Due to their multisectoral nature Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) offer a unique opportunity to fight malnutrition, the agreed upon indicator monitoring the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 1. Nutrition interventions should therefore become an integral component of poverty reduction strategies.

This paper reviews 40 PRSPs and finds that:

  • three quarters of the PRSPs recognize that malnutrition is a development problem that leads to loss of human capital and/or productivity

  • a majority of PRSPs include strategies and specific actions to mitigate the effects of malnutrition

  • many PRSPs, either explicitly or implicitly, include country nutrition profiles in their poverty analysis

However, there appears to be little prioritisation or sequencing. More importantly, the strategies and actions included in PRSPs often do not reflect an appropriate response to the nature of the nutrition problem in the country. Moreover, institutional capacity and budget allocations are not sufficient. This leads to a lack of impact of PRSPs on nutrition and will further contribute to the marginalisation of nutrition in future PRSPs.

PSIA - Gauging poverty impacts

06 May 2008 05:59:06 GMT

This issue examines the usefulness of two recently developed analytical tools: Poverty and Social Impact Analysis (PSIA) and Poverty Impact Assessment (PIA). Both approaches provide a framework to analyse the distributional impact of policies, programmes and projects:
  • PSIA involves in-depth analysis of complex policy reform processes and offers evidence-based policy choices
  • PIA focuses on decisions concerning development projects and programmes
To explore PSIA's and PIA's potential contribution to more effective poverty reduction policies, individual articles in this volume:
  • describe the PSIA and PIA concepts
  • explore how the structure of societies and institutional mechanisms influence reform processes
  • examine case studies on agricultural reforms which underscore the importance of stakeholder power and policy dialogue
  • stress the importance of a process approach to PSIA
  • explain how political actors, institutions and economic processes influence each other
  • illustrate the use of a PSIA tool (power mapping) to predict stakeholder support, opposition and influence in the case of water reform in Yemen
  • discuss the lessons learnt by the German aid agency GTZ in applying PSIA from a governance perspective
  • report how three PSIAs in Malawi led to more pro-poor policy designs and to the institutionalisation of PSIA as a basis for policy making
  • summarise a DFID review of staff experience with PSIA
  • recap a critical NGO review of PSIA practices
  • explore why Senegal’s first PIA proved an ideal basis for discussing key issues and assessing poverty impacts of a major industrialisation project
  • describe how PIA was used to study the impacts of businesses servicing the unmet needs of poor people

Poverty and environment indicators

02 May 2008 04:12:42 GMT

The aim of this report is to explain technical aspects in using and developing Poverty & Environment indicators (P&E) by providing a toolbox that will enable the readers to use indicators to mainstream environment into poverty reduction strategies. The document targets policy-makers working with poverty and environment issues in Africa.

The main messages of this document include:

  • poverty reduction strategies needs to encompass the environment in order for it to be successful
  • human development can be promoted with moderate increases in countries’ ecological footprint
  • general human well-being and general environment indicators are not particularly focused on the links between poverty and environment
  • the existing P&E indicators can only partially solve the problems of ‘integration’ between their different dimensions
This report recommends the use of ‘adjustment factors’, which can take into account the nature and extent of environmental problems and ‘regression analysis’ to develop P&E indicators. It proposes a new methodology that enables the development of indicators to be: relational, objective and multidimensional.

Monitoring and evaluating poverty reduction policies in Mozambique, study 1: social relations of rural poverty

08 Apr 2008 03:10:05 GMT

In Mozambique, the government and the donors have invested considerable resources and effort in economic and social development. Nevertheless, Mozambique is still one of the poorest countries in the world. This short brief presents the first in a series of three participatory and qualitative studies on poverty in Mozambique. The studies will be used as baselines for monitoring and evaluating Mozambique’s poverty alleviation efforts, by following the implications of government policies and interventions at the local level and ascertaining changes in the conditions, perceptions and relations of poverty after periods of three years.

The authors present a set of broad policy implications arising from the baseline study that they believe are important to follow up for alleviating poverty in remote rural areas like Murrupula. These include:
  • the definition of ‘the household’ as the key analytical unit used in censuses and national household surveys in Mozambique should be reassessed to better reflect realities on the ground, and combined with questions putting emphasis on social relationships of individuals and households that are vital for the survival of the poor
  • if the state and its poverty alleviation efforts are to have an impact in areas like Murrupula, there is a need to further strengthen the local government’s human and economic resources in line with the intentions in the Local Government Act
  • improved access to markets and improved bargaining positions vis a vis external traders are important for enhancing production and income from agriculture. Both should be further developed through improved road networks, the development of associations and possibly some form of marketing board to reduce the exploitative nature of current relations with traders
  • many children do not go to school due to poverty, domestic work and early marriage/pregnancy amongst girls, who tend to drop out first. Access to education should be improved and provisions should be made for young mothers to continue their education after childbirth
  • the very poorest households and individuals in districts such as Murrupula are characterised by non-involvement in state and community institutions (including those of education, health, the church and associations), and are marginalised or excluded from traditional family networks due to their inability to contribute in a setting where relationships have to be reciprocal. For these, targeted interventions and social protection measures will be necessary.

Science & technology and the PRSP process: a survey of recent country experiences

07 Feb 2008 03:28:28 GMT

This paper examines how the role of science and technology (S&T) as a driver of economic growth and poverty reduction has, in the last five years, been addressed in poverty reduction strategy papers (PRSP). This analysis is based on a review of 11 PRSP documents prepared in countries in the sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America regions; and on a case study of the policy process that lead to the formulation of Mozambique’s second PRSP.

It finds that overall the incorporation of S&T in PRSPs is somewhat weak. This is especially notable in areas such as international trade and investment, private sector development or the generation of local scientific and technological knowledge.

The paper’s recommendations include:

  • explicitly addressing how S&T development can contribute to poverty reduction and economic development efforts in each of the relevant policy spheres
  • promoting the dissemination of S&T knowledge and its local generation, especially in the formulation of private sector development strategies
  • PRSP documents could benefit from broadening their poverty diagnostics to incorporate an analysis of the relation and impact that different ‘sectoral’ strategies - including those regarding S&T development - may have on existing poverty and economic trends
  • International development agencies can raise awareness of the importance of S&T development for poverty reduction and growth efforts in each of their areas of specialisation.

Accountability in poverty reduction strategies: the role of empowerment and participation

17 Jan 2008 03:20:10 GMT

This paper is part of a research project analysing the participation of stakeholders beyond the drafting process of Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRS). A number of constraints impede meaningful participation in many countries. However, exceptions demonstrate that meaningful participation in PRS processes is possible. The author argues that this requires strengthening democratic accountability, institutionalising participation and empowerment.

Recommendations for reaching these objectives include:

  • democratic domestic accountability should be distinguished from external obligations and contractually agreed conditionalities. Donors are important and influential actors, but they are not ‘stakeholders’ in the domestic democratic arena
  • domestic accountability has vertical (electoral, social) and horizontal (political, administrative) dimensions. Although, all are equally important, donors are concentrating on the administrative dimension
  • PRS processes are taking place in a domestic political arena. This needs capacity building for domestic academic institutions as well as political journalists within PRS countries
  • it is necessary to foster open discussions as to which stakeholder has which interests, capacities and legitimacy in which phase of the PRS process
  • sustainable structures and legal frameworks for participation have to be created in order to foster meaningful participation
  • parliaments are (or should be/become) the constitutionally based and democratically legitimised forum for domestic debates, while civil societies can initiate communicative power to inspire, influence or criticise those who are in power
  • the institutionalisation of frameworks for participation should be promoted by introducing indicators or measurable standards for participation that include rights and structures for an ongoing cooperative dialogue between legitimated and capacitated stakeholders
  • donors are recommended to pay more attention to the support of empowerment initiatives in the context of PRS.

Current macroeconomic frameworks, challenges and alternatives for the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

14 Sep 2007 09:06:27 GMT

This paper discusses policies that have inhibited the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regions. Specifically, the paper argues that neo-liberal structural adjustment policies (SAPs) have exacerbated poverty in the region and that there is a need to balance the role of the private and public sector if the MDGs are to be achieved.

The paper points to a number of negative experience and outcomes of structural adjustment in the 1980s. It describes that economic growth is stagnant or declining in many countries and poverty is increasing the context of rising inflation and unemployment. In addition, food shortages have increased particularly in Southern Africa, due to the combination of natural and policy related factors, and HIV and AIDS has ravaged the sub-continent.

The paper outlines a number of economic alternatives to structural adjustment which have emerged in the region including:

  • the Lagos Plan of Action for the economic development of Africa
  • the United Nations Programme of Action for Africa’s Economic Recovery and Development
  • the African Alternative Framework to Structural Adjustment Programme for Socio-Economic Recovery and Transformation
  • New Partnership for Africa’s Development

The paper argues that a number measures are needed to meet the MDGs in the SADC region, which include:

  • SADC governments should have clear political will to implement economic strategies aimed at achieving sustainable growth and development, and attainment of the 2015 MDG targets
  • SADC governments should clearly align their national budgets with national development priorities as reflected in their strategic macro-economic frameworks and other kept policy documents
  • the SADC region should pursue comprehensive agrarian reform programmes that include land re-distribution, support to improved agricultural productivity, environmental conservation and creation of decent employment opportunities
  • there is need to actively promote value addition in support of the growth of a strong manufacturing sector in the region
  • strategies are needed to ensure the efficient and sustainable utilisation of natural resources including water, minerals and tourist attractions
  • more aid and public spending must be allocated toward the fight against HIV/AIDS
  • social protection measures must cushion those that may be negatively impacted on during adjustment processes
  • steps must be taken toward economic regional integration


Budget support to Ghana: a risk worth taking?

02 Aug 2007 11:36:55 GMT

This policy brief presents a case study of general budget support (GBS) in Ghana. It is argued that, by providing aid as budget support, donors have taken risks and made important contributions to poverty alleviation and governance. In particular, the paper explores the impacts of the Multi-Donor Budget Support (MDBS) Programme, in support of the newly-adopted Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS).

In assessing the immediate effects of MDBS, the study finds that:

  • budget support has been of limited importance in relation to total aid and the Government’s own budget and its relative importance has diminished over time. This has limited the achievements of the MDBS
  • MDBS has ensured aid predictability within a range of ±5% of planned disbursements. It has also been associated with reduced transactions costs, although this is hard to demonstrate conclusively
  • MDBS has helped enhance policy dialogue and conditionality, improving Government policy ownership and prioritisation, target setting and monitoring
  • the contribution of MDBS to aid harmonisation and alignment is modest.

The brief argues that while MDBS has kept reform on the agenda and as has had a generally pro-poor influence, it has not been able to minimise the risks by supporting more effective public finance management systems, nor has it managed to maximise the payoff in terms of poverty-reduction.

The brief recommends that action be taken along the following lines:

  • the MDBS programme needs to be re-conceived primarily as a method of budget financing, not as a tool for policy leverage
  • annual disbursements should not be conditional, but instead should be dependent upon the maintenance of ‘due processes’ in public spending
  • reforms should be promoted by open dialogue with both domestic and external stakeholders
  • the Performance Assessment Framework needs to be re-designed as a mechanism for enhancing internal, rather than external, accountability, by making reform targets and results public, and by giving wider access to policy debates
  • the original objective of minimising transaction costs needs to be brought back to centre-stage.

Poverty observatory in mozambique: final report

18 Jul 2007 02:58:03 GMT

Case-studies from the Poverty Observatory (PO) in Mozambique examine citizen participation and social accountability processes in Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) implementation and monitoring.

The following recommendations are outlined for improvement:

  • reviewing the role and function starting with the concept and goal
  • addressing the restrictions that hold the PO to a consultative instrument with no complementary channels and mechanisms for feedback
  • setting up a call for a more proactive civil society involvement with a more effective and efficient structure and organisation to realise full potential and share best practices
  • sharing partnership experience through mechanisms such as the Joint Review; setting up a flexible public feedback system, where citizens, service beneficiaries, and stakeholders can submit feedback on the service delivery and performance of the Government; making the PO regular and formal with the objective to transform it into a more formal mechanism/process; treating the PARPA as a public good

The authors find that simpy appreciating citizen participation is not enough for meaningful participation to
happen. Stakeholders need to make things work proactively. The drive or motivation to meaningful participation must come from the stakeholders themselves. This attitude should also be encouraged by surrounding organizations. Successful citizen participation needs investment in time, thinking energy, design effort and money.

The decline in public spending to agriculture: does it matter?

28 Jun 2007 01:14:33 GMT

Public spending on agriculture is now recognised to be an important means of promoting economic growth and alleviating poverty in rural areas. However, this paper reveals that agricultural spending is not being prioritised within current budgets and, in many cases, is actually falling. The paper is based on a recent study by Oxford Policy Management, which reviews global trends in public spending on agriculture using evidence from six case-study countries: Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Argentina, and Vietnam.

Key findings from the case studies include:

  • improved central public finance management systems combined with PRSPs have encouraged patterns of spending that disproportionately favour the social sectors over the productive sectors
  • with the exception of Uganda and Vietnam, there has been a marked fall in agricultural expenditure as a share of AgGDP since 1980
  • spending on agriculture relative to AgGDP is considerably lower in Africa than in the other two regions
  • later generation PRSPs show an intention to increase expenditure on agriculture, but this could be undermined by a lack of stakeholder participation in the development of budget proposals.

The authors argue that the low share of spending allocated to agriculture should be of concern - especially in Africa, where agriculture and poverty are closely interlinked. Based on the study’s findings, they conclude that:

  • greater attention needs to be paid to improving the quality and availability of data on the impact of spending
  • mechanisms are needed for ensuring wider debate amongst sector stakeholders on the role of agriculture in growth and poverty reduction and how spending should be prioritised to achieve these objectives.

Minding the gaps: integrating poverty reduction strategies and budgets for domestic accountability

22 Jun 2007 03:17:13 GMT

This study examines what challenges have arisen in countries where efforts have been made to integrate poverty reduction strategies (PRSs) with national budgets. It argues that both PRSs and national budgets offer scope for enhanced domestic accountability, but that fractures in planning and budgeting systems pose obstacles for donors and national governments. Challenges that emerge include:

  • the prioritisation of plans and coordination between planning and budgeting units
  • the creation of incentives to formulate realistic budgets and execute them as planned
  • the expansion of ownership of the PRSP at the sector level
  • the development of a multi-annual perspective in strategic resource allocation
  • the integration of reporting mechanisms.

Reviewing at the experiences of higher-income countries, the study argues that if broader reforms, rather than narrow technical solutions, is the goal three principal lessons are instructive:

  • domestic ownership of the reform agenda is often crucial and may need to extend beyond the ministries of finance to the cabinet, the parliament and civil society
  • an integrated approach to reform rests on strong institutional connections between planning and budgeting
  • effective reforms begin with the basics of public financial management, rather than more sophisticated, performance-oriented reforms.

The study suggests that systems for monitoring government performance in implementing budgets could provide a solid basis for reporting on a critical part of PRS implementation. It outlines three essential building blocks for the integration of PRS and budget reporting:

  • regular reporting from various government implementing institutions is needed
  • more advanced sectoral monitoring and reporting processes are advised
  • regular surveys and statistics on poverty outcomes would assist in assessing government performance.

The study outlines four lessons from the experiences of the country case studies:

  • focus on strengthening and harmonizing existing processes and adopt a step by step approach to reform
  • build support from within, through high-level ownership of policies, a challenge to the executive, and clear roles for sectoral ministries
  • foster incentives for integration: target reporting to decision making processes
  • keep it simple - comparatively simple budget reforms can significantly improve the budget’s responsiveness to policies.

The poverty reduction strategy approach six years on: an examination of principles and practice in uganda

13 Jun 2007 12:13:37 GMT

This article argues that Uganda’s Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP) has brought significant gains to development management, but that its performance against several of the PRS (Poverty Reduction Strategy) principles is disappointing. The key lesson from the Ugandan experience is that the PRS principles remains valid, but that government and development-partner practice around the PRS process has not always done justice to these principles.

As countries prepare and implement their second-generation poverty-reduction strategies, a return to the spirit of the PRS principles is in order. To foster true national ownership, PRSs have to be integrated into domestic policy and accountability processes. Development-partner standards and requirements should be secondary. Results orientation by development partners often results in an external focus of accountability mechanisms. The authors call for a shift in the focus of PRSs to mutual accountability and a strengthening of domestic accountability processes.

The authors argue that a more general lesson emerging from Uganda’s experience is that there is a tension that needs to be resolved between the desire to be comprehensive and the need to prioritise rigorously within a given fiscal space. Budgets need to be oriented towards the achievement of development results, whereas at present they often merely reflect historical allocation patterns.

Development partners also need to be realistic regarding their expectations of the quality of the PRS and its associated processes. Less emphasis should be placed on PRS products and more on the PRS process. Where development partners cannot compromise on the standards they set, they need to invest in the long-term capacity needs they create as a result. The authors conclude that the existence of a strong Medium-Term Expenditure Framework provides a good basis for the formulation of a PRS. But at the same time, when it is applied rigidly, it can stifle the reorientation of the development path in line with newly emerging priorities.


Status report 2006: progress towards the goals for growth, social well-being and governance in Tanzania

28 Mar 2007 11:00:00 GMT

This report provides an overview of the latest data available for indicators of progress towards the goals of the Tanzanian National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (MKUKUTA). The paper comments on gaps in the data and adjustments which may need to be made to the indicator set.

The reports overall findings are that:

  • clear progress is shown in the data analysed against the goals of the strategy's three major clusters - growth and reduction of income poverty, improvement of quality of life and social well-being, and governance and accountability
  • the need for further action in each cluster is identified
  • linkages between the clusters are necessary, as the clusters and goals are mutually reinforcing.

The authors recommend:

  • further strengthening underlying policy frameworks, especially in social protection and in several areas of governance
  • creating special monitoring of financing activities and local government authority spending
  • having a clearer growth strategy to provide focus for investment - domestic and foreign - in productive sectors of the economy in which domestic producers and investors play critical roles, especially in agriculture and infant industries
  • prioritising government spending, taking into consideration various financing and management options for public service delivery
  • expand reporting of foreign aid in the national budget and strengthen national management of aid flows
  • to focus distribution of subsidised food on those areas unable to purchase foodstuffs in the market and to improve transportation and marketing systems to facilitate distribution from areas with surpluses to those with shortages.

This report is a reference document which complements the series of Tanzania Poverty and Human Development Reports. It was produced in accordance with the MKUKUTA Monitoring Master Plan and is published by the Research and Analysis Working Group, which is part of the MKUKUTA Monitoring System within the Ministry of Planning, Economy and Empowerment.

A participatory pathbreaker? Experience with poverty reduction strategy papers from four South African countries

15 Mar 2007 12:00:00 GMT

Has the PRSP (Poverty Reduction Strategy Process) paved the way for a new and more democratic participatory way of governance and policy-making, or was it just an ad hoc gimmick promoted by the donor community? Has it contributed to effective poverty reduction in the rural population? This report aism to answer these questions, based on information gathered from Rural Producer Organisations (RPOs)in Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania and Uganda.

More specific questions addressed in the report are:

  • to what extent were marginalised or disadvantaged groups (in RPOs) incorporated into the PRSP processes through the available arrangements of civil society participation? Did the process include any in-depth studies/group work? Which measures did the RPOs themselves take to deepen participation?
  • what is the range of social and economic issues and services that the RPO representatives dealt with in the participatory process? Did they participate solely on agricultural issues, or were they also dealing with general policies (macroeconomics), crosscutting issues (e.g. HIV/AIDS and gender concerns) and/or other sector-specific policies (microeconomics)
  • at what level in the hierarchy of decision-making was the RPO participation conducted? Was RPO participation limited to consultations or comments given on individual basis, or were the RPOs taking part in deliberation and as such having influence in the elaboration of proposals through work groups and committees?
  • if little or no satisfactory participation was found, what were the reasons?

Some of the key findings were:

  • in Malawi the PRSP process was experienced by the RPOs as the most participatory policy making process ever in the country; However, implementation was very weak, as was the monitoring system. Nevertheless, participation picked up in the review and revised PRS formulation process
  • in Zambia the process was reasonably participatory and the implementation process was not too bad
  • as in Malawi, the PRSP formulation process was experienced as the most participatory policy making process ever in the country. However, the ultimate review process was not very participatory and responsive to CSO and RPO critique
  • by contrast there was little evidence of a participatory process in Tanzania

Does debt relief increase fiscal space in Zambia? The MDG implications

05 Mar 2007 12:00:00 GMT

This country study from the UNDP's International Poverty Centre examines fiscal policy in Zambia, particularly how expenditure and taxation could be used to accelerate growth and reduce poverty.

Drawing on results from a national study, the paper finds that:

  • The Zambian government has little opportunity to choose its own fiscal policies, and is restricted by an array of external conditionalities
  • HIPC debt relief will result in less fiscal space, rather than more
  • projected G8 debt relief will only marginally expand fiscal space
  • under the assumption of moderate economic growth, additional financing equivalent to 8.8% of GDP would be needed to expand government expenditures so as to reach the MDGs.

The authors recommend:

  • a diversified strategy of increasing tax revenue, expanding the fiscal deficit and obtaining more ODA to finance these expenditures
  • core elements of an expansionary macro framework, to accomodate slightly higher inflation rates, to foster lower real rates of interest rates and to entail purposeful management of the exchange rate.

Observing poverty reduction: a compilation of participatory poverty assessment summary reports 2002 - 2005

16 Feb 2007 12:00:00 GMT

Have Zambian citizens benefited from their country's Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP)? This compilation of poverty assessments covers the PRSP phase from 2002-2005. It reports on local communities' perspectives of the impact of poverty reduction programmes. Overall, it concludes that PRSP implementation in Zambia, whilst successful in some areas, has in general been weak

The report evaluates PRSP implementation in:

  • three social sectors - education, health and water and sanitation
  • livelihood earning sectors - agriculture, fishing, non-farm economic activities, tourism and mining
  • cross-cutting issues - HIV/ AIDS, gender, environment and governance.

As a result of poor implementation, and even given the short duration of the PRSP, its impact on poverty reduction has been less than it could have been. The authors do, however, argue that the findings should serve as a firm base for continuing monitoring exercises.

Namibia on track to meet global poverty goal

07 Feb 2007 12:00:00 GMT

According to a recent survey, the 2006 targets for poverty and inequality set out in the Namibian National Development Plan II seem to have been achieved ahead of schedule. According to this article taken from the daily Namibian newspaper, the southern African nation now finds itself among a small group of African countries that are on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of halving poverty by 2015.

Although meeting the MDG in question would mark a major achievement, the article warns of the damage that persistent inequality could do to Namibia's poverty reduction efforts. Issues that could hamper these efforts include inequality largely favouring urban residence over rural dwellers - this inequality also mirrors gender inequality.

Overall, however, the author argues this survey should be cause for celebration because the results are truly remarkable. Meanwhile, the survey should be scrutinised and analysed by researchers and policy makers inside and outside of government so to derive a better idea of how stable the findings are, how accurately they reflect the real situation, the impact of HIV and AIDS and the key factors that have contributed to reducing poverty and inequality.

The hijacking of the development debate: how Friedman and Sachs got it wrong

16 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT

The popular backlash to the Washington Consensus (an agenda of enforced open market policies) has been witnessed in protest marches and anti-globalisation campaigns for quite some time. This revolutionary mood, the authors argue, has been hijacked by the influencial, articulate voices of Jeffrey Sachs and Thomas Friedman. This article presents a critique of these two figures' work, and warns of the risks their policy prescriptions entail.

Arguing that Sachs and Friedman's solutions to ending poverty are over-simplistic, the authors add that such claims are merely loosely-vieled interpretations of the market liberalisation policies of the 1980s and 1990s. Accepted as simple truth by many, these straight-forward answers to poverty eradication are, according to the authors, built upon dubious facts about the poor, aid, trade and the options available to donor countries.

Having debunked a number of myths which the authors believe underpin the work of Sachs and Friedman, examples of alternatives in action are presented. Policy reforms at the local, national and regional level in Africa and Latin America are detailed, suggesting the possibility of successful alternatives to the prevailing consensus in poverty eradication.

The macro content of PRSPs: assessing the need for a more flexible macroeconomic policy framework

15 Oct 2006 11:00:00 GMT

This article analyses the content of 15 Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers from a growth and poverty reduction perspective. It argues that, contrary to new trends in developed and middle-income countries, their policy frameworks lack the necessary flexibility to deal with external shocks and address macroeconomic volatility appropriately. This is because their fiscal and monetary policies are too narrowly focused on fiscal balance and price stability and consequently pay too little attention to economic fluctuations arising from external shocks, which have major effects on poverty and growth. To address these issues, the article proposes a set of policy measures.

Policy recommendations are:

  • price stability is very important to long-term growth, and therefore should be a key objective of monetary policy. However, once price stability is achieved, supporting growth and employment should also be included among the objectives of monetary policy, as indeed they are in the United States and other developed countries
  • PRSP countries are correct in pursuing a prudent fiscal policy. This policy stance provides credibility, thereby contributing to macroeconomic stability and long-term growth. However, prudence should be based on realistic fiscal targets, and should not preclude flexibility
  • flexibility in the fiscal framework should be allowed for, to deal not only with the downturn of the business cycle but also with the effects of external shocks
  • it is important that the potential conflict among the numerous demands for public expenditure be appropriately addressed

Participatory approaches to attacking extreme poverty: case studies led by the International Movement ATD Fourth World

05 Oct 2006 11:00:00 GMT

The case studies compiled in this book emerged from an October 2005 World Bank seminar on extreme poverty. They show how helping the very poor to emerge from poverty requires not only extra public resources, effort, and time, but also a broader approach to development policy.

Relying on contributions from the International Movement ATD Fourth World, the book deals with questions such as:

  • what does it mean to live in poverty, and especially in extreme poverty?
  • how can the very poor be reached through development projects?
  • how can we assess whether projects succeed in changing the life of the poorest?

In answering these questions, the emphasis is on exploring what type of knowledge is needed to fight extreme poverty. A key argument is that apart from academic knowledge, a concerted effort is needed to recognise and listen to indigenous knowledge, as well as the practitioners who are engaged with the poor on a daily basis.

Following commentary from ATD Fourth World, case studies are provided on participatory approaches to attacking extreme poverty in both developing countries (Madagascar, Tanzania, Bolivia, Guatemala and Peru) and developed countries (the United States and Belgium).

Making PRSP inclusive

03 Oct 2006 11:00:00 GMT

Disabled people's organisations (DPOs) and people with disabilities rarely participate in any PRSP process, despite the professed importance of civil society involvement in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of a country's national poverty reduction strategy. This handbook presents experiences, proposes ideas, and comments on how DPOs and people with disabilities may enter and participate in national PRSP processes.

The handbook seeks to be as concise as possible and as comprehensive as is necessary. It covers the following areas:

  • basic overview of the PRSP process, including identification of stakeholders and the relationship between PRSPs and disability
  • PRSP formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation and entry points for civil society
  • case studies of experiences in Honduras, Bangladesh, Sierra Leone and Tanzania
  • guide to project and process management in developing a strategy, including the tools necessary to achieve this.

Exploring the paradox of Rwandan agricultural household income and nutritional outcomes in 1990 and 2000

16 Aug 2006 11:00:00 GMT

This paper looks at how Rwandan households adjusted their cropping and income generating strategies to produce an outcome of reduced malnutrition rates from 1990-2000, despite population and land pressures and the impact of the 1994 genocide. This study might be used to help influence formulation of appropriate food policies not only in Rwanda, but also in other countries recovering from similar domestic crises or facing critical land shortages.

Despite political upheavals and increasing land pressure, the survey evidence suggests that by 2000 average incomes returned to the 1990 level, while the nutritional status among rural children was better in 2000 than in the early 1990s. However the nutrition improvement is tempered by evidence of increasing rural inequality. While the least poor households expanded their access to income through skilled labour, the majority of households retreated into a more self reliant mode of production focused on key subsistence crops. The change in crop mix seems to be associated with the improved the nutritional status of children.

The paper concludes that the poorest groups are unlikely to derive much, in any, direct benefit from agricultural commercialisation given that they have withdrawn form the market and are mostly cultivating land areas too small to be able to produce a surplus. Measures to increase the productivity, and sustainability, of Rwanda’s small scale agriculture are critical but there is a clear risk that commercialisation by itself could further increase rural inequality. It is also found that many of the poorest rural households will never obtain adequate consumption levels based on agriculture alone although at the moment the opportunities for off farm work for these households appear very limited. The proposed widespread introduction of labour intensive public works, also envisaged in the Poverty Reduction Strategy and currently under discussion in Rwanda, may offer opportunities.

Beyond the numbers: understanding the institutions for monitoring poverty reduction strategies

13 Aug 2006 11:00:00 GMT

This volume provides lessons on the design and functioning of Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) monitoring systems, based on the experience of twelve PRS countries. The focus is on the institutional arrangements of PRS monitoring systems - the rules and processes which bring the various actors and monitoring activities together in a coherent framework.

Part I of this volume summarises the findings and lessons that have emerged from the analysis of poverty reduction strategy monitoring systems in 12 countries in Africa, Central and South America and Central Asia.(Albania, Bolivia, Guyana, Honduras, the Kyrgyz Republic, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Niger, Tanzania, and Uganda).

Part II provides two tools for practitioners. The first is a diagnostic tool that provides pointers for designing or reviewing a poverty reduction strategy monitoring system. The other offers principles and guidance for policy makers and their advisers who are engaged in the design and implementation of a poverty reduction strategy monitoring system.

Part III describes the institutional arrangements of each of the 12 countries examined (Albania, Bolivia, Guyana, Honduras, the Kyrgyz Republic, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Niger, Tanzania, and Uganda).

Civil society's perspective on their involvement in PRSP monitoring: assessing constraints and potentials in Nicaragua

07 Aug 2006 11:00:00 GMT

Based on perception of civil society representatives in Nicaragua, this study assesses constraints and potentials of civil society involvement in poverty reduction strategy (PRS) monitoring processes in Nicaragua. The study applies an innovative tool – the so called "CSO Participation Matrix" – which helps to structure the information, to identify critical gaps and existing potentials, and to identify key challenges to civil society's participation. The tool used in this study is intended to serve civil society organisations in strengthening their voice in the multi-stakeholder dialogue on PRS monitoring.

The study concludes with recommendations to enhance the role of civil society in the monitoring process. Key findings include:

  • basic conditions for a significant role of civil society organisations (CSOs) in the PRS monitoring system are not met; consequently there is the need for a longer-term perspective on enhancing civil society's participation in national monitoring processes
  • government does not seem to have developed an approach that appreciates civil society as a key actor in PRS monitoring nor to recognise its potential value added
  • the collaboration among CSOs, to build strategic partnerships, and to improve CSO's capacity to translate research findings into powerful advocacy tools, needs to be strengthened
  • the strongest potential of CSOs is found at the local level; efforts should therefore focus on raising awareness and empowering local people in order to enable them to hold public officials to account
  • donors should rethink the balance between support to government and CSOs, work towards improving their coordination, and move from project-based support to core funding. The recently established multi-donor fund for supporting CSOs points to the right direction.

The "development dimension": matching problems and solutions

26 Jul 2006 11:00:00 GMT

Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are thought to be a pragmatic fix to world trade problems, and their supporters also believe they can facilitate the achievement of broader development goals. This briefing paper examines what EPAs must offer if they are to be 'development agreements'.

The authors assess the benefits of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement (CPA) and discuss potential gaps which may be filled by the integration of more substantial EPAs. By examining the increasing marginalisation of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) nations of the CPA, the paper provides numerous illustrations of the agreement's underlying problems. Other analyses, however, demonstrate that the provisions within the CPA may not be stretched that much further through an EPA.

The discussion leads to the overall conclusion that there are, in fact, some ways in which an EPA could supplement the CPA. For example, it could increase certainty of implementation for the wide raft of measures needed to improve the supply capacity of the ACP and enhance the poverty reduction effects of any increased trade. A binding commitment to deliver to ACP nations the resources necessary to manage the challenges of globalisation is suggested as a good place to start.

Economic growth as an instrument for poverty reduction in Mozambique: framework for a growth strategy

14 Jun 2006 11:00:00 GMT

Once a nation struggling with the damaging effects of two decades of civil war, Mozambique now towers over its neighbours in terms of human security and development. However, it remains a poor country facing numerous obstacles to equitable poverty reduction. The Government's economic programme is designed to reduce absolute poverty by 30 percent by 2010, requiring a GDP growth rate of around 8 percent per year. This paper argues that whilst this is an ambitious goal, it is feasible. The author outlines a number of strategies for meeting this target.

The author points to other countries that have managed to maintain a 5 percent growth rate per year, two of which (Botswana and Mauritius) are in the same region as Mozambique, sharing some environmental and historical characteristics. Using these examples, the author provides an analytical framework to help establish strategies to accelerate the growth rate. This framework, adapted to the particular characteristics of Mozambique, is informed by six fundamental ideas about development. These include:

  • rapid, broad-based and sustainable growth is an essential and powerful instrument for poverty reduction
  • high rates of saving and investment, and rising productivity are the foundation for rapid and sustainable growth
  • human development plays an essential role in fostering growth
  • rapid, sustained and broad-based growth is achievable
  • government policies, programmes and institutions are critical determinants of investment, productivity, and hence growth
  • the people are the central players in the growth process, not passive target groups for actions taken by government.

The analysis lead the author to a number of ways in which a sound and effective strategy for economic growth can be established and implemented.

2005 review of the poverty reduction strategy approach: balancing accountabilities and scaling up results

24 Mar 2006 12:00:00 GMT

The PRS (poverty reduction strategy) approach has become widespread over the last five years. This paper presents a review of the PRS approach in the form of an extensive discussion of implementation experience up until 2005. The review is based on the views of a wide range of stakeholders.

Following a prologue of experiences in Albania and Zambia, the paper presents an overview of the development challenges in low-income countries. It then focuses on balancing accountabilities - how the PRS approach can support the strengthening of domestic accountability; the accountabilities of donors in terms of providing better aid; and various factors that help external requirements to reinforce rather than undermine domestic the paper discusses: the analytic foundations which can support the strengthening of strategies and their results orientation; and how the PRS process can support ambitious development plans by providing a framework for scaling up assistance and addressing absorptive constraints so that additional aid is used well.

Specific points the review highlight include:

  • Domestic accountability:
    • the PRS process has encouraged countries to prioritize their development goals, and set concrete targets and appropriate intermediate progress indicators
    • several countries have begun this process, but many PRSs would benefit from a more explicit link between goals and the policies needed to achieve them
    • the PRS process has opened space for stakeholders to engage in a national dialogue on economic policy and poverty reduction but participation has been broad rather than deep, and focused primarily on PRS formulation.

    External accountability:

    • governments receiving development assistance are also accountable to those who provide it
    • factors increasing the importance of external accountability include the perception of the PRS process as an externally imposed requirement, some aspects of aid arrangements and high dependence.

    Supporting a balance of accountabilities:

    • in countries where the PRS approach has been well implemented, an internal shift has taken place between the developing countries and their external partners
    • elsewhere, countries need to continue their PRS efforts through improved prioritisation, sequencing and monitoring.

    Scaling up results:

    • action is required from donors and countries alike to make the PRS the framework for scaling up country-level efforts to reach the MDGs
    • donors must align their assistance with the country's development priorities.

[adapted from author]

Indigenous and tribal peoples and poverty reduction strategies in Cameroon

21 Mar 2006 12:00:00 GMT

The Cameroonian poverty reduction strategy paper (PRSP), approved in 2003, is presented as a document developed in a participatory manner. However, beyond official discourse on participation and consultation with the population in this process, questions still arise as to the consideration of indigenous and tribal peoples' interests and aspirations in this context. This issue becomes even more important as official approaches to the development of indigenous peoples have often focused on their assimilation or conversion to the dominant lifestyle, rather than on a genuine social integration with due respect to their cultural identity. This study assesses the participation of indigenous peoples in poverty reduction efforts, particularly the PRSP, in Cameroon.

The author find that indigenous peoples are marginalised and excluded from poverty reduction efforts in Cameroon. Their basic concerns are, consequently, not taken into consideration. Futher to this, the author concludes that:

  • when specific projects or programmes are developed for minority groups, they are not informed of their contents and their implementation is always delayed compared to other programmes
  • the proposed development initiatives are often aimed at assimilating indigenous and tribal peoples or converting them to the dominant way of life rather than truly integrating them through the respect of their cultural identity
  • efforts are being made in the areas of agriculture, education and health without taking into account the basic rights of these populations and following culturally unsuitable approaches
  • national poverty reduction efforts must include the perceptions and strategies of indigenous peoples and should adopt an approach based on the recognition of their collective rights as a people with their own cultural norms
  • national efforts to reduce poverty must take into account the land and resource use patterns of indigenous and tribal peoples, including those of the nomadic people and shifting cultivators
  • national poverty reduction efforts must integrate an approach based on basic human rights, in particular the internationally recognised rights of indigenous and tribal peoples
  • it is vital to have political will to recognise their rights as governed by international legal instruments - with a particular emphasis on capacity building.

[adapted from author]

SSATP annual meeting 2005

08 Mar 2006 12:00:00 GMT

This paper reports on the sub-Saharan Africa transport policy programme (SSATP) annual meeting, held in Bakamo, Mali in November 2005. Its focus was on moving forward with implementation of the SSATP long-term development plan -designed to achieve concrete improvements in the transport sector in sub-Saharan Africa, so that it contributes fully to growth and poverty reduction.

The meeting discussed issues including:

  • developing transport strategies that contribute to poverty reduction
  • strengthening the links between transport, trade and regional integration
  • establishing sound institutions and financing arrangements for the roads sector
  • managing increased financing from development partners
  • creating a future vision for transport in Africa
  • mproving the mobility of the urban poor
  • ensuring that the voices of women are heard in LTDP implementation.

The outcome of the meeting was the 'Bamako Declaration' - a statement of political support for the implementation of the SSATP long-term development plan. Particularly noticeable was the concentrated effort to address implementation deficiencies with regard to the needs of women. Proposals were presented for strengthening the way in which implementation should address gender-specific transport needs.

Politics and poverty reduction strategies: lessons from Latin American HIPCs

08 Mar 2006 12:00:00 GMT

This paper addresses the perception that poverty reduction strategy (PRS) processes in Latin America and the Caribbean have not grappled effectively with politics, and have not engaged successfully with political actors and institutions. The authors draw upon evidence from documents and interviews on how this situation has arisen and how it might be confronted. It is based on experience in three Latin American highly indebted poor countries (HIPCs): Bolivia, Honduras and Nicaragua.

The paper's overall argument is that the PRS approach has been compromised by the fact that a single instrument – preparation of a comprehensive plan document, with broad consultation – has been made to serve different purposes. In reality, these need to be met in different ways. As a consequence, it has served none particularly well, although some better than others. Its key failing, according to the authors, has been a lack of political will to buy-in to poverty reduction as an objective.

A coordinated multi-pronged approach is recommended in order to facilitate a more satisfactory relationship between political systems, donor actions and PRSs. The authors also recommend:

  • primarily, agencies should, individually and collectively, get into the habit of thinking about carrying forward the PRS approach in a country, rather than carrying forward the PRS itself
  • assisting the emergence of country policy ownership, by engaging on political terrain on the basis of a solid understanding of long-term processes of change
  • accepting a new flexibility of approach in pursuing systems alignment and aid harmonisation
  • using financing agreements, such as those for budget support, to focus selectively on short-term policy actions that are both useful and likely to be taken, given known political commitments.

[adapted from author]

Indigenous and tribal peoples: an ethnic audit of selected poverty reduction strategy papers

08 Mar 2006 12:00:00 GMT

Indigenous and tribal peoples represent about 5 per cent of the world's population, but over 15 per cent of the world's poor. The incidence of extreme poverty is higher among them than among other social groups and they generally benefit much less than others from overall declines in poverty. This paper reports on an ethnic "audit" of 14 PRSPs (poverty reduction strategy papers) in 14 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Its goal is to ascertain whether and how the rights, needs and aspirations of indigenous and tribal peoples have been taken into account and whether they have been involved in the consultations leading to the formation of the PRSPs.

The main findings of the report include:

  • there are significant differences between and within regions and between countries, in terms of whether and how indigenous and tribal questions are addressed:
    • the African PRSPs are beginning to recognise, to varying degrees, that large-scale cultivation and irrigation, national boundaries, tourism and the establishment of nature and game reserves are undermining the freedom of movement to hunt and graze livestock over large areas of land and access to water, which is essential for pastoralists
    • Asian PRSPs swing from neglect, such as Sri Lanka, or passing attention to the social, economic and political exclusion of tribal peoples, as in Pakistan, to a genuine concern for the unequal development of these peoples relative to other social groups, as in Nepal or Vietnam
    • in Latin America, PRSPs clearly identify the areas that are key to indigenous peoples' development - however the relative size of indigenous populations in a country determines whether an ethnic mainstreaming approach is pursued or targeted interventions are promoted.
  • there is a lack of indigenous-specific indicators in most developing countries
  • the nature of many PRSPs reflect an understanding of poverty primarily in terms of material deprivation, and as a state rather than in terms of powerlessness and vulnerability linked to systemic discrimination
  • with a few Latin American exceptions, indigenous and tribal peoples have not been involved in consultations leading to the formulation of the PRSPs
  • a few PRSPs recognise that indigenous or tribal peoples' disadvantages have a strong political dimension and are linked to their inadequate political representation within government
  • only a few PRSPs examine the gender dimensions of indigenous or tribal poverty - gender aspects are generally addressed separately from the status and needs of indigenous and tribal men and women
  • only a couple of PRSPs mainstream indigenous and tribal issues and address them consistently throughout.

Aid modalities and the promotion of gender equality: aide-memoire

06 Mar 2006 12:00:00 GMT

In January 2006, the United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality (IANWGE) and the Network on Gender Equality of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) held a joint meeting on the implications of the new aid modalities for the achievement of gender equality. This aide-memoire, written in preparation of the meeting, argues that new aid modalities may have limited or adverse effects on developing countries if they do not take into account gender perspectives and the rights and interests of women.

A number of agencies are already tackling the issue of how to integrate gender equality into the various elements of changing aid modalities. Yet the Sector Wide Approach Programmes (SWAPs) and Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRS) through which development assistance is now increasingly channelled have often been gender blind, without the necessary budgetary allocations directed towards addressing gender inequalities.

This paper argues that if progress towards the achievement of gender equality is to be maintained and accelerated it is critical that these new mechanisms address gender mainstreaming as a key strategy and ensure that the voices of women in both donor and partner countries are heard.

Summary written in collaboration with BRIDGE and Siyanda

Indigenous peoples, poverty reduction and conflict in Nepal

02 Mar 2006 12:00:00 GMT

This case study argues that despite the good intentions and increasing realisation of the importance of social inclusion for poverty alleviation and lasting peace, reflected in the PRSP, insufficient attention has been given to indigenous peoples’ issues in Nepal.

Problems of the PRSP as identified by the paper include:

  • the indigenous peoples issue has not been recognised as a crosscutting issue, and despite the rhetoric of an integrated approach to poverty reduction, development planners, political leaders and bureaucrats continue to adopt a largely sectoral approach
  • serious concerns have been raised regarding the possible collapse of the PRSP in terms of implementation, largely as a result of the ongoing conflict and lack of political will on the part of the government
  • there is no formalised mechanism or criteria to ensure meaningful consultation with and participation of indigenous peoples in the formulation, implementation or evaluation of programs by the government, donors or national and international NGOs
  • serious commitment to address indigenous peoples' issues in Nepal continues to be hampered by a lack of political will among certain elements within government, donors and civil society leaders in Nepal.
  • issues of exclusion/inclusion tend to be addressed by lumping together indigenous peoples with Dalit, women and other disadvantaged groups, which further marginalise the specific problems faced by indigenous peoples and perpetuates lack of conceptual clarity on these issues, preventing the formulation of effective strategies to address their needs
  • the standard process used for development and poverty alleviation planning adopted by the government and donors often goes against indigenous peoples because such processes do not take indigenous peoples' specific situation, needs, aspirations, and demands into consideration
  • although, there is the provision of affirmative action for indigenous peoples in the PRSP, the lack of an enabling legal framework has prevented implementation
  • Nepal has yet to ratify ILO Convention No. 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (1989), which would pave the way for an institutionalised system of consultation with indigenous peoples, in addition to providing a comprehensive development framework for all stakeholders to address indigenous peoples’ issues in an appropriate manner.

Tracking resource and policy impact: incorporating millennium development goals and indicators and poverty reduction strategy paper monitoring across sectors

01 Mar 2006 12:00:00 GMT

The main aim of this report is to show how a statistical system for tracking resource and policy impact could be designed and implemented. The system presented is designed to provide easily obtainable statistical information for monitoring the millenium development goals (MDGs), poverty reduction strategy papers (PRSPs) and the data challenges of PARIS21.

The approach presented follows the monitoring process from resource allocation towards human welfare and quality of life and the feedback towards economic and social development. It is designed for monitoring starting at the national level which could be extended upwards for international comparisons or downwards for local comparisons at the local level.

Three social sectors are examined - education, health and water and sanitation, inclusive of the smallholder agricultural and urban informal sectors, using data from seven Norwegian partner countries.

The main conclusions can be summarised as follows:

  • despite the current level of statistical development it is possible to establish and maintain statistical information to track resource and policy impact towards poverty reduction, other MDGs and PRSP objectives at the international level
  • in general, increased resources go hand in hand with improved outputs and outcomes - but there are numerous cases where changes in inputs or outputs are not matched by changes in outcomes - poverty data are still too short and irregular to show any trends
  • international databases tend to apply a policy of annually reviewing and adjusting national figures and adjusting single time series backwards - this might improve consistency of each single time series, but might also cause a discrepancy towards nationally presented data and data presented in previous years
  • further insight into tracking resource and policy impact requires country level data.

The report ends with a number of recommendations for Norwegian users and development partners.

Evaluation of the 2002-2004 poverty reduction strategy paper (PRSP)

25 Feb 2006 12:00:00 GMT

Zambia's PRSP was introduced in 2002, based upon a three year time-frame. At the end of this period, civil society conducted independent rapid poverty monitoring and expenditure tracking exercises to establish whether the programme outcomes and impacts were consistent with PRSP aims and objectives. The reports by civil society on poverty assessment equally point to weak implementation of the PRSP and a general failure to improve well being. The focus of this report is an overall assessment of the PRSP process, in respect of its impact on poverty reduction at the local level.

The study, using both primary and secondary data, found that:

  • weak capacities in implementing agencies and the slow and intermittent flow of funding has limited the potential of the PRSP initiative
  • the PRS (poverty reduction strategy) approach has, however, led to a sharper focus on poverty reduction and a more open participatory process by the government and donors than was previously the case
  • there is need for a clear definition of poverty reducing projects at both policy and implementation levels - in addition to capacity building for implementation and monitoring and evaluation at all levels of implementing agencies
  • donors should make aid flows more predictable and forego the tendency to withold funds when governments fail to adhere to conditions or meet targets
  • decentralisation is fundamental - allowing grassroots communities' input to the design and implementation of development interventions affecting their own lives
  • government should clearly articulate the role of civil society - facilitating government-civil society partnership in the implementation of national development programmes
  • civil society in general, and CSPR in particular, should strive to participate in the broad-based and open discussion of macroeconomic policy alternatives with government and cooperating partners.

Research, policy engagement and practice: reflections on efforts to mainstream children into Ethiopia’s second national poverty reduction strategy

27 Jan 2006 12:00:00 GMT

This paper explores efforts to bridge multi-disciplinary research, policy engagement and practice to improve the life quality of children living in poverty, focusing on Ethiopia.

The paper is structured in two parts. The first section discusses the importance of mapping the policy context so as to carry out effective policy influencing for and with children. The second section draws on an emerging body of literature on bridging policy and research to evaluate efforts made by Young Lives Ethiopia. Young Lives Ethiopia used research on the impact (on child well-being) of the first round of the Ethiopian PRSP (2002-5) to improve the inclusion of child-sensitive indicators and policies in the second PRSP (2005-9).

The paper emphases a number of recommendations to bridge research and policy, including:

  • the importance of securing strong relationships with key players or policy entrepreneurs cannot be underestimated
  • framing of messages in succinct, easily remembered and culturally-resonant ways provides a linguistic bridge between often complex academic texts and policy action.

The Young Lives Ethiopia experience also offers some insights and recommendations, including:

  • it is imperative to add a temporal dimension to understanding the political and institutional context in which advocacy is to be carried out
  • in some national contexts research-based advocacy may secure credibility precisely because it is seen as ‘neutral’ or ‘non-political’
  • while analysts of policy and research linkages have recognised the value of alliances between researchers and advocacy organisations, too little emphasis has been placed on the sustainability of these relationships
  • inviting policy decision makers to also present their thinking in public fora organised to disseminate research findings breaks down the sense of ‘stakeholders as targets’ and instead promotes a model of ‘stakeholders as partners’
  • capacity building can play a potentially important role in shaping the politico-institutional context.

The poverty challenge in Africa: placing decent employment at the heart of the battle

24 Jan 2006 12:00:00 GMT

This chapter in the UNECA's "Economic report on Africa 2005" examines the prominent features of the poverty challenge in Africa. It outlines the analytical links between growth, employment and poverty to show that employment is a major route out of poverty. The paper also identifies the employment gaps of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) and provides recommendations for strengthening the employment intensity of the growth process and for mainstreaming employment policies in poverty reduction strategies.

The paper finds that:

  • poverty in Africa is widespread, chronic, gender-biased and pervasive among the labour force
  • the high incidence of poverty among workers suggests that an employment-intensive growth process underpinned by rising productivity is key to reducing poverty
  • measures that create strong and sustainable employment opportunities for poor people and empower them to benefit from newly created jobs will be instrumental in reducing the incidence of poverty.

The paper recommends the following:

  • stimulating employment growth can be achieved by promoting the adoption of labour-intensive techniques, encouraging export diversification, reducing taxes on producer prices and maximising private sector job creation
  • promoting productive employment requires such measures as improved public sector efficiency, maximised physical and financial access to health systems for the poor and improved infrastructure and institutional reforms to address physical and institutional barriers to markets
  • social protection schemes are needed to provide safety nets for those who invariably fall through the cracks
  • strengthening the employment focus of Africa's development programmes can be sustained by encouraging greater participation of trade unions, labour ministries and labour friendly organisations in the PRSP process.

[adapted from author]

Poverty Reduction Strategies and the rural productive sectors: insights from Malawi, Nicaragua and Vietnam

23 Jan 2006 12:00:00 GMT

This paper looks at the treatment of rural productive sectors in Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRS) for three countries, focussing particularly on agriculture and to a lesser degree forestry, fisheries and tourism. Based on the premise that agriculture and other rural productive sectors will play a major role in poverty reduction, it is assumed that first-generation PRSs have not given adequate treatment to rural productive sectors. The three countries chosen for the study are Malawi, Nicaragua and Vietnam. These countries were chosen mainly on the grounds of diversity of experiences they represent in relation to growth and agricultural development.

The authors examine four specific issues in depth: the debate and policy agenda on pro-poor growth and rural productive sectors, PRS as a policy tool for pro-poor growth, the rural productive sectors’ engagement with PRS processes, and the role of aid donors. With regard to these issues, it finds that:

  • there is little consensus over paths to pro-poor economic growth
  • the state’s role in delivering pro-poor growth is far from clear and there seems to be a bias in government intervention towards spending, and away from the critical ‘enabling’ measures
  • insufficient progress has been made in enhancing the contribution of the rural productive sectors to pro-poor growth, resulting partly from the public spending bias and partly from lack of vision, capacity or motivation
  • PRSs are not (yet) the overarching framework for pro-poor growth
  • the growth model adopted by PRSs tends to be one of ‘trickle down’, with a lack of specific measures to address the particular needs of the rural poor
  • PRSs are biased towards public spending, with insufficient treatment of rural productive sectors
  • the lack of internal capacity, vision and motivation have constrained the engagement of governance bodies in the rural productive sectors
  • stronger accountability mechanisms and civil service are needed
  • aid agencies have failed to support the engagement of the governance bodies of the rural productive sectors or indeed the importance of PRS as a policy tool

If the PRS are to remain the centre-piece of donor-funded development, the paper finds there are clear lessons for subsequent rounds of planning:

  • the rectification of current biases in PRSs, devoting sufficient attention to production as well as the social sectors, as well as treating enabling measures as seriously as plans for public spending
  • line ministries need more guidance on how to assist their sectors, and in particular, how to play a facilitating role as opposed to directive or operational roles
  • politicians need strong reasons to engage in reform
  • donors should improve their performance if their advice and conditions is not to look hypocritical.

Mainstreaming children into national poverty strategies: a child-focused analysis of the Ethiopian Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction Programe (2002-05)

18 Jan 2006 12:00:00 GMT

This paper assesses how the needs of children are incorporated into Ethiopia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), known as the Ethiopian Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction Programme 2002-2005 (SDRDP), and to develop policy recommendations for the second PRSP based on a comparative content analysis with other countries’ PRSPs.

The paper identifies key components of a child-centred PRSP, which include: consideration of childhood poverty in the document’s poverty analysis; spaces for consultation with children; child specific policies and programmes as well as child-sensitive macro-development policies; institutionalised mechanisms to coordinate these policy approaches; and the inclusion of child-related progress indicators.

A rights-based framework is used to analyse the SDPRP’s policies, programmes and indicators. It assesses the extent to which both the direct (child-specific policy commitments) and indirect (macro-development) policies are in keeping with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) principles of child survival, development, protection, equal treatment and participation.

The paper finds that Ethiopia’s first PRSP did not have an explicit analytical framework and strategy for addressing childhood poverty. Instead it followed the core emphases of the MDG framework. In terms of macro-economic policies, one-fifth of the government budget was to cover pro-poor policy sectors – education, health, road infrastructure, agricultural development and water supply. The education sector was allocated the highest share, however, its per capita expenditure is exceedingly low and much below internationally recommended minimums for low-income countries. The health sector, especially nutrition services, fared considerably worse.

By drawing on the best practices of PRSPs in other developing countries, the paper draws attention to the need for a more multi-dimensional understanding of childhood poverty, including attention to other core principles of the UNCRC, such as a child’s right to protection from exploitation, social exclusion, discrimination and vulnerability, and the right to participate in family and community decisions that affect their lives. Such an approach would, in turn, necessitate a cross-sectoral policy approach to ensure optimal co-ordination of service delivery, as well as sequencing and synergies between policy interventions. The more successful integration of gender equality as a cross-cutting issue into the SDPRP however, does offer some important lessons.

Missing links in the politics of development: learning from the PRSP experiment

14 Dec 2005 12:00:00 GMT

Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers are five years old. It is six years since the Enhanced Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC2) placed on the international agenda a new type of donor conditionality, requiring governments to prepare, and hold public consultations about, comprehensive three-year plans for improving their performance in reducing poverty. And it is five years since the first wave of PRSP processes was completed. This paper therefore asks: what have we learned from this experiment?

This paper tries to address three questions:

  • What has been learned about the feasibility of "engineering" commitment to poverty reduction? And what does this imply?
  • Could development cooperation do better within the PRSP framework, and if so how?
  • What else might be worth a try? In particular, what might be done by Northern governments, outside the PRSP framework, to improve the results from aid-supported PRSPs?

The paper concludes that it cannot yet be said that the PRSP experiment has failed, if only because no better idea has yet been articulated by anyone. On the other hand, it is clear that PRSPs have not delivered what was hoped for, and the reasons include the rather simple theory of political change that was one of the conceptual underpinnings of the experiment.

This paper also draws attention to three types of possible international action that are missing links in the politics of development after five years of PRSPs, including:

  • more serious understanding of country contexts by donor staffs
  • a willingness to go public about issues that donors currently discuss behind closed doors
  • a more serious effort to construct regional "neighbourhoods" and a global climate of opinion that would do what PRSPs have been unable to do – really incentivise the construction of developmental states in poor countries.

Guyana: experience of economic reform under World Bank and IMF direction

23 Nov 2005 12:00:00 GMT

This paper reviews Guyana's experience with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in drafting and implementing Guyana’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, and with reforms in three major areas of the economy in which the World Bank and IMF have been substantially involved: sugar production, bauxite mining and water services.

The review reveals that the relationship between the World Bank and the Guyana government is one of tension and mutual distrust, and policy decisions are not taken in a context of mutual respect, shared perspective, and agreement on objectives. In addition, this defensive environment has led to the exclusion of civil society organisations from decision-making processes. The paper argues that this isolation weakens key programmes like the Poverty Reduction Strategy, and depriving it of legitimacy in the eyes of civil society.

The paper concludes that the country has not moved to "ownership" of economic policies, but continues to be dependent on the financial support and policy guidance of donors. It recommends that:

  • Guyana needs a better-informed civil society to engage in policy formation
  • IFIs need to conduct better assessments of the areas where they are implementing PRSPs, to ensure they are as relevant and effective as possible
  • above all, Guyana has to move beyond its dependency on outside funding and find its own path if it is to move forward.