After the extensive discussion of the keynote papers which set the mood for the overall conference discussions, each of the participating countries were requested to make presentations of the situation of the PRSP within their countries.
There were two presentations from Zambia, one for the Ministry of Finance and National Planning, representing the government perspective, and the other from the Civil Society for Poverty Reduction, representing the civil society view.
- GOVERNMENT PERSPECTIVE
The Government perspective was presented in a paper entitled ‘PRSP Conceptual Framework, Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation: The Role of Different Stakeholders’ delivered by Mr. By Mr. James Mulungushi, Director, Planning and Economic Management, Ministry of Finance and National Planning.
Mr. Mulungushi commenced his presentation by stating that:
Formulation of PRSP
- the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper is a medium term development plan sensitive to economic growth, poverty reduction and cross cutting issues such as HIV/AIDS, environment and infrastructure;
- the need to prepare a PRSP arose out of the realization that structural adjustment programs (SAPs) ignored poverty reduction issues. These programs mainly focused on macroeconomic stabilization aimed at ensuring efficient use of resources.
At this phase of his presentation, Mr. Mulungushi disclosed that:
- to access the new concessional borrowing facilities made available by the World Bank and IMF, Zambia was required to prepare a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper based on a broad based consultative process that brought to the core, poverty reduction initiatives in the overall development framework;
- due to the urgency of the need for funding, Zambia started with the preparation of an Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (I-PRSP), which was submitted to the World Bank and IMF in 2000. The thrust of the I-PRSP was to spell out the road map towards a full-fledged PRSP.
As regards the PRSP formulation process, which was structured so as to allow for broad
based participation, the following activities were undertaken:
Major Challenges and Constraints
- PRSP Sensitization Workshops were held for stakeholders and political leaders in 2000 to augment government appeals and advertisements in the media inviting the public to contribute ideas on mainly on the causes of poverty and strategies for uprooting the scourge.
- During the Stakeholders meeting, it was resolved that as an operational strategy, eight working groups be established to develop sector specific plans on how to tackle poverty. These were Macroeconomic management, Agriculture, Tourism, Industry, Mining, Education, Health and Governance.
- In May 2001 provincial consultations were undertaken in order to incorporate specific regional strategies for economic growth and poverty reduction. Following the incorporation of the provincial concerns, a national summit was called in October 2001 to discuss the first draft of PRSP.
- By April 2002 the final PRSP draft was approved by cabinet being government’s highest office. In May 2002 both the World Bank and IMF finally approved the PRSP.
Mr. Mulungushi pointed out that:
Monitoring & Evaluation
- the major challenges of PRSP were due to limited resource envelope for the effective implementation of PRSP programs;
- the other was that PRSP was conducted in an election year and was overshadowed by the ‘Third Term debate’, which made it difficult to effectively consult the political leadership thus leading to delayed decision-making vis-а-vis PRSP.
At this phase of his presentation, Mr. Mulungushi pointed out that:
The Role of Parliamentarians and Civil Society
- better targeting of interventions in an environment with considerable competing interests for limited resources is important;
- presently most poverty targeting programs are not poverty focused and have low rates of socio-economic returns whilst their impact is not easily and quickly realizable and their sustainability not assured. Further afield, their political marketability –cum attractiveness is often contestable;
- monitoring will involve tracking key indicators over time and space with a view to seeing that changes have taken place to the indicators following the implementation of the PRSP;
- since the central objective of the PRSP is to reduce poverty, evaluations will enable the assessment of the impact on poverty of interventions under PRSP;
- communication is the key not only to successful implementation of the programs and projects, but also more to the process of monitoring and evaluation. Information flow is required first and foremost in the sensitization process of the developed poverty reduction strategy paper. The role of both the print and electronic media in bringing out both flaws in implementation and good stories will therefore be crucial in empowering the people to track performance in implementing PRSP;
- communicating the necessary information at the right time and to the right users is cardinal in the process of monitoring and evaluation. This is so because decision making at all levels during the implementation process and afterwards will, to a large extent be determined by what information will be available and when it will be available.
In zeroing in on the strategic significance of parliamentarians and civil society involvement in the PRSP process, Mr. Mulungushi observed that:
- parliamentarians are key policy makers in the government system. Their contribution should in principle start at the constituency level where programs and projects are identified and submitted to District Councils and District Development Coordinating Committees;
- civil society has contributed immensely to the PRSP through participating in all working groups and by raising issues related to debt, growth and poverty in Zambia. Government therefore regards civil society organizations as constructive partners in the promotion of sustainable human development and good governance in Zambia.
In concluding his presentation, Mr. Mulungushi observed that:
- the PRSP preparation process has been a learning experience not only for Zambia but also other countries that have done the same. Among the countries, which have completed their PRSPs, Zambia stands out;
- the preparation of a good document does not mean eventual success in achieving growth, creating employment and reducing poverty. A lot needs to be done to translate the ideas in the PRSP into achievable and realizable programs, which can demonstrably and measurably reduce the most outrageous manifestations of human poverty in Zambia.
- CIVIL SOCIETY PERSPECTIVE
Mr. Gregory Chikwanka of Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) presented the Civil Society perspective vis-а-vis the PRSP in a paper entitled “The Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper Process in Zambia; a Civil Society Perspective”
In the introductory phase of his paper, Mr. Chikwanka observed that:
PRSP Process and Civil Society
- Zambia ranks as one the least Developed Countries in the World and according to the 1999/2000 UNDP Report, Zambia’s Human Development Index, which started to decline in 1985 plummeted further in the 1990s.
- Zambia has a very heavy debt stock, which now stands at US$7.3 billion.
- In view of this huge debt burden, Zambia embarked on the formulation of its PRSP in June 2000 following the historic paradigm shift announced by the World Bank and IMF towards ‘pro-poor’ targeted development at their joint annual meeting in September 1999.
- Zambia’s PRSP preparatory process was guided by the principle of ensuring the broadest participation of the citizens’ elected representatives (Members of Parliament and councilors), civil society, private sector, creditors and donors.
During this phase of his presentation, Mr. Chikwanka noted that:
Evaluation of PRSP Participatory Process
- Zambia has proved to be one of the countries where the participation of civil society in the formulation of the PRSP has been exemplary.
- Civil Society got involved in the PRSP process after government invited it in July, 2000 and in responding to government’s invitation a network known as Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) with Jesuit Center for Theological Reflection (JCTR) as the lead civil society organization was formed.
- In addition to joining the government’s consultative framework, the CSPR undertook its own consultative process not to duplicate or undermine government’s efforts, but rather to complement and widen the consultative process.
- After carrying out its own consultative process, the CSPR synthesized its findings in the form of a holistic document entitled, ‘PRSP for Zambia: A Civil Society Perspective’. This document was launched in July 2001 and copies were presented to the Minister of Finance and the PRSP Coordinator.
- Upon reviewing the first draft of the country’s PRSP prepared in September 2001, civil society discovered that the government had incorporated its suggestions to an appreciable extent.
- Zambia’s PRSP was approved by cabinet in April 2002 and submitted to the boards of the World Bank and IMF in May 2002. The two institutions had since endorsed the document as a ‘robust platform for addressing poverty issues in Zambia’.
In evaluating the PSRP’s participatory framework, Mr. Chikwanka recognized the following strengths:
He also drew attention to the following shortcomings:
- participation of civil society in the PRSP had led to a broadening of the range of perspectives. The grassroots experience of civil society complemented government bureaucrats’ knowledge on issues of gender, environment and HIV/AIDS;
- compared to SAPs, civil society participation in the PRSP process had enhanced the legitimacy and acceptability of the PRSP among the public;
- the participatory process in Zambia had led to a foundation for a more focused poverty orientation. In particular, poverty analysis looked set to become informed by national realities, among them civil society perspectives;
- civil society’s capacity to conduct policy analysis, advocacy, networking and participatory approaches on various issues has been enhanced. Better organizational skills and economic literacy among CSOs are being noticed;
- civil society has contributed to public awareness of the PRSP process through press releases and conferences, roundtable forum, and by summarizing the first draft of the PRSP into a more reader friendly document.
- civil society still feels that its access to vital information and documents is still limited. For instance, civil society has raised serious concerns regarding inadequate information on the availability and disbursement of HIPIC resources;
- civil society had no participation at higher levels of the PRSP preparation. In fact, its participation ended with the first draft. CSOs therefore had no representation at the higher drafting committees that finalized the PRSP for submission to the Zambian cabinet;
- parliamentarians were sidelined in the PRSP process. Initial plans to present the PRSP to parliament before taking it cabinet and the world Bank/IMF for endorsement were inexplicably shelved. This raises the possibility of poor quality of debate in parliament when budget estimates required to operationalize the PRSP are considered by Members of Parliament;
- the PRSP was hastily prepared in order to meet externally dictated timelines and this had a negative impact on the consultative process and the CSPR’s outreach to grassroots’ level communities;
- though some capacity has been built, there is still greater need in civil society for capacity building particularly in policy advocacy and monitoring and evaluation;
In concluding his presentation, Mr. Chikwanka expressed:
- satisfaction with civil society’s participation in the PRSP processes but also indicated that a lot needs to be done to improve government-civil society interaction;
- the stance that for the PRSP to succeed, political will and the efficient management of resource allocations, disbursements and actual spending will be critical. Pronouncements of zero tolerance for corruption and ensuring that the ‘rule of laws and not men’ have to be applied in the course of implementing the PRSP;
In addressing the conference’s theme, Mr. Clifford K. Tandari of Tanzania delivered the following presentation.
Mr. Tandari began his presentation by noting that:
Preparation of Tanzania’s PRSP
- the PRSP paradigm is one new approach agreed upon by governments and the World Bank/IMF aimed at tackling poverty. PRSPs have been arrived at after lengthy consultations among various stakeholders including parliamentarians and civil society organizations within the country;
- poverty tends to manifest itself in the following forms; malnutrition, ignorance, prevalence of diseases, squalid surroundings, high infant, child and maternal mortality, low life expectancy, low per capita income, poor quality housing, inadequate clothing, low technological utilization, environmental degradation, unemployment, rural-urban migration and poor communication;
- the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) paradigm in Africa and the rest of the developing world in general and Tanzania in particular is a new medium term funding mechanism for financing priority areas and sectors that have the highest impact on poverty reduction;
- Tanzania was the third country in Africa and fourth in the world to have qualified for the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPIC). This achievement can be attributed to sufficient political will in government, active involvement of civil society groups, as well as Tanzania managing to meet all the conditionalities for reaching decision and completion points respectively.
In providing an overview of the preparatory activity which preceded the launch of Tanzania’s PRSP, Mr. Tandari disclosed that:
Supportive Measures to Accelerate Poverty Reduction in Tanzania.
- Preparation of the PRSP entailed broad consultation among stakeholders-a factor that has contributed to underlying consistency in the country development policy objectives, including the strategy for poverty reduction.
- Civil Society organizations participated actively in the preparatory process particularly in zonal workshops. They not only accessed draft reports but also demanded that government actually level the playing field to facilitate effective CSO participation.
- Regrettably substantial efforts towards poverty reduction by international partners were still being implemented outside the framework of the central government budget. In order to ensure maximum progress towards poverty reduction and improved predictability of budgets, these efforts require re-alignment and rationalization in line with PRSP priorities.
- A large volume of international resources was being channeled through specific donor driven projects, sometimes leading to duplication. An effective anti-poverty strategy will require concerted efforts to channel these resources in the context of sector wide development strategies.
- Major reforms in key areas especially local government, education and agriculture were in motion as consultative formulation of the PRSP was being undertaken. Implications of these sectoral reforms vis-а-vis poverty reduction and resource requirements could not have been accurately assessed in such a fluid institutional environment.
- Tanzania’s parliamentarians are assuming a leadership role in the PRSP process by way of asking the government questions to seek clarity and transparency on issues that have a bearing on meeting targets outlined in the PRSP.
Mr. Tandari pointed out that in pursuit of ensuring a successful implementation of Tanzania’s PRSP, supportive measures would have to be instituted in the following four Strategic areas;
Critical Assumptions Vital for the Successful Implementation of Tanzania’s PRSP
- First, the government will have to maintain sound macro-economic policies and intensify implementation of reforms aimed at bolstering market efficiency notably in agriculture and raising factor productivity.
- Second, while budgetary expenditure will continue to be restrained owing to macro-economic considerations, special efforts will have to be made to channel limited government resources toward support of key programs and social services under the PRSP.
- Third, the government will put increased emphasis on reforms aimed at promoting export-oriented expansion and diversification of the ‘pro-poor’ sectors with a view of enabling the poor to share increasingly in the benefits of globalization.
- Fourth, efforts will be made to raise steadily investment as a percent of GDP from 15 percent to approximately 17 percent, including through initiatives focusing on bolstering private investment in the cultivation of traditional and new crops, small and medium sized enterprises and informal sector activities.
Mr. Tandari, cautioned that in endeavoring to successfully implement Tanzania’s PRSP, the following assumptions will be critical:
Poverty reduction strategy-a new imposed conditionality or a chance for a meaningful development policy?
- civil society and the poor will be taken on board as far as poverty monitoring and evaluation are concerned;
- improved ownership of the process through higher quality management, commitment and contributions vis-а-vis PRSP on the part of stakeholders inclusive of parliamentarians and civil society;
- the installation of an enforceable system of accountability at all levels of government;
- public policies will be pro-poor so as to meaningfully reduce mass poverty;
- public policies will be focused on poverty reducing impact areas such basic education, primary health care, rural roads, agriculture etc;
- public institutions responsible for oversight, public accountability and transparency will be strengthened through implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy;
- the media will be strengthened to ensure public awareness of government activities;
- legislation to support implementation of poverty reduction programs will be overhauled and more vigorously enforced;
In concluding his presentation, Mr. Tandari attempted to objectively answer the above Question. He accordingly observed that:
- PRSP, if well implemented could reduce poverty by fulfilling set targets;
- outright debt cancellation as experienced during implementation in post war Western Europe, would be the preferred solution to Africa’s poverty trap, as opposed from the palliative approach inherent in the PRSP process;
- PRSP could offer the opportunity for a new and meaningful development strategy, if the process is well funded, genuinely owned and managed by African governments and if both multilateral and bilateral donors deliver on their promises to supply resource support and restrain from demanding the fulfillment of unmanageable conditionalities.
In a paper entitled 'The PRSP Process and the Role of Civil Society in Malawi' Dr Naomi Ngwira highlighted the following issues.
Dr Ngwira began her presentation by calling attention:
Historical Evolution of the Concept of Poverty Reduction
- to the December 1999 joint decision of the Brettonwoods institutions which approved the processing and granting of loans to poor countries contingent on the production of a PRSP;
- to the fact that the PRSP is a condition for qualifying for debt relief under the enhanced Highly indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC) initiative;
- to the new thinking underlying PRSPs, which amounts to an implicit realization that SAPs were based on analytical frameworks that were unsuitable to developing countries and were imposed on poor countries with detrimental consequences to the welfare of the majority of the people;
- to the critical assumption that the PRSP process is to be used to ensure consistency between a country’s macro-economic policies and the social goals of poverty reduction and is intended to be conducted in a way that ensures transparency, accountability, and broad based participation in the choice of social goals, and the formulation of policies, and monitoring of implementation;
- to the grim fact that Malawi’s total debt stock is U.S $2.5bn, and the export/debt revenue ratio is 236%, greater than the threshold for qualifying for HIPIC of 150%;
- to the estimated completion point, which though a floating one, is envisaged for the end of December 2003.
In tracing the evolution of the paradigm of poverty reduction within a global/international perspective, Dr. Ngwira made the following observations:
The PRSP Process
- the earliest generation of literature was from the Basic Needs approach to development, which emerged from the World Employment Program (WEP) of the International Labor Organization in the late 1970s/early 1980s. This approach linked economic growth to employment creation, which was seen as a solution to poverty reduction;
- the next generation of literature revolved around the issue of targeting peasants in rural development as offering the fastest way to increase the living standards of the poor. Some writers saw the targeting of the poor as a strategy for growth, as it trickled up, whereas for others, the poor were a target of the benefits of growth, as it trickled down to them;
- in response to increased civil society activism that has drawn attention to the inequalities of globalization, latter day academics are demanding that the poor should be the focus of development strategies. One major criticism made by this lobby is that since they exclusively aim at macroeconomic stabilization, Structural Adjustment Programs cannot improve the lot of the poor.
Dr. Ngwira then went on to point out that:
- the PRSP process in Malawi was a most participatory one. Apart from the vision 2020, and the sectoral environmental action plan, no process to formulate national development policies in Malawi has involved such a wide consultation of stakeholders;
- the Malawi PRSP emphasizes 4 features that distinguishes it from previous economic planning efforts:
- the first one is that the PRSP will use the approach to poverty reduction of empowering the poor, and not giving them hand outs;
- the second one will be emphasis on implementation by making sure plans are translated into action through budgets;
- the third distinguishing feature will be making implementation transparent and participatory;
- lastly the PRSP will, unlike in the past, be the only framework for financing and implementing development plans; any plans and projects that do not fit the PRSP framework will not be financed;
In respect of Malawi’s poverty profile Dr. Ngwira observed that:
The International Dimension of Poverty Reduction
- the richest 20% consume 43.6% of goods and services, while the poorest 20 % consume only 6.3%. There is more inequality in the urban areas, measured by the gini coefficient of 0.52 for urban areas and 0.37 for rural areas;
- the Malawi poverty profile lacks focus in that it omits some of the most important causes of poverty among those listed and uses one narrow definition of poverty which may lead to the selection of policy interventions that may not be effective in reducing poverty;
Dr. Ngwira further pointed out that:
Engendering the PRSP
- though the Malawi PRSP has an extensive discussion on the causes and distribution of poverty, it has no coherent conceptual framework within which to contextualize and explain the causes of poverty;
- there is urgent need to contextualize the problems of poverty within the national and international political economy. It is very obvious that the World Bank/IMF’ s emphasis on intensifying civil society’s participation in the PRSP process could deflect attention away from the global/international dimensions of the causes of poverty, which can only be realistically addressed through outright debt cancellation and better trading regimes.
In bringing out the gender dimension in the PRSP consultative process, Dr. Ngwira observed that:
Civil Society Participation
- very few women participated in the process;
- most of the women who participated were in low positions compared to men in the various institutions and communities;
- he outcomes of district consultations show that those who facilitated the consultations were not sensitized to the benefits of gender analysis tools;
- effective analysis will require the strengthening and institutionalization of the collection of gendered statistics, and enhancing the capacities of, and incentives for, policy analysis and to carry out gender analysis.
To make the PRSP process truly participatory, Dr Ngwira advised that six (6) steps would need to be taken:
Is the PRSP a Chance to develop a meaningful development Policy?
- First, there is need to de-link the PRSPs from the HIPIC. Making the preparation of the PRSP a pre-qualification for debt relief leads to conducting a hasty process that is dominated by government.
- Second, the IMF and World Bank should find ways of promoting genuine national ownership. At present the national governments are taking ‘an IMF/World Bank taxi ride with one choice of destination and one choice of route’.
- Third, governments have to encourage genuine participation and not mere ‘consultation’. Governments should not just consult briefly with civil society, holding meetings with little notice, giving no time to review documents and develop constructive criticism, and not following up on CSO recommendations.
- Fourth, the government should undertake ex-ante reviews of poverty reduction strategies for their pro-poor focus and not just leave this to chance.
- Fifth, the IMF and World Bank should reduce rigid conditionalities.
- Finally, CSOs should identify themselves more closely with the PRSPs and be partners with government in the actual implementation. This may require using innovative approaches to fund CSOs to implement PRSP programs or activities in which they have comparative advantage.
In concluding her presentation, Dr. Ngwira addressed the conference’s theme and in this regard made three cardinal observations:
- the PRSP can contribute to significant poverty reduction if the HIPC funds and other resources are utilized in implementing priority poverty expenditures (PPEs), and also to stimulate the economy in those growth points that have significant potential for poverty reduction;
- in terms of HIPC, international stakeholders must ensure that resources for debt relief arrive on time and that fulfillment of conditionalities is monitored in the best interest of the country as opposed to appeasing bilateral and multilateral donors;
- a major shortcoming of the PRSP paradigm is that it tries to explain the problems of poverty by overemphasizing factors internal to indebted countries whist neglecting several key aspects of the international global order which disadvantage poor countries.
Mr. Cesar Pahla de Sousa introduced the Mozambique country paper by reporting that:
The Consultative Process
- Mozambique had completed its PRSP in 2001,and its approved version by the Council of Ministers in April 2001 was presented to the IMF/World Bank as a final PRSP Draft.
- The IMF/World Bank accepted this draft as Mozambique’s Interim PRSP.
In regard to the enlisting broad based ownership of the formulation process, Mr. De Sousa observed that:
PRSP: Imposed Conditionality or an Opportunity for Development?
- the PRSP is a priority plan for the government of Mozambique (GOM) meant to manage medium term macro and sector policies relating to poverty reduction and development;
- at the outset consultations were at national and sector level. It contemplated strategy, priorities, resources constraints and effectiveness of interventions. An intersectoral technical group brought together the contributions in a draft that was accepted as an Interim PRSP;
- consultations were then extended to provinces, civil society and international development partners. The main purpose was to get contributions and discuss methodology for the development of integrated plans of action incorporating existing policy interventions like Food Security and Nutrition Strategy and HIV/AIDS strategy plan;
- Mozambique’s PRSP process has bee largely directed by the Ministry of Planning & Finance on behalf of the government. The Ministry has therefore been the focal point of interface between Mozambique and its external partners and interested parties in civil society;
- there was not much consultation after completion of the final draft in early 2001.Whist ‘planning fatigue’ on the part of a rural population due to general dissatisfaction with previous anti poverty programs was cited by sources close to government, civil society considered the poor social infrastructure and usage of Portuguese, a language most rural dwellers cannot understand as factors that limited popular participation in PRSP formulation.
In concluding his presentation, Mr. de Sousa noted that:
- PRSP’ s conditionality dimension manifested itself in the zealousness with which government accelerated the formulation process in order to keep within HIPIC debt relief deadlines. This preoccupation with deadlines, ultimately compromised meaningful broad based participation in the process of formulating Mozambique’s Interim PRSP;
- the PRSP paradigm despite being a conditionality required by the IMF and World Bank for securing debt relief under HIPIC, has provided a unique framework within which to enlist the participation of ordinary citizens in the quest to reduce poverty as well as promoting sustainable human development in the country.
Angola made two presentations. One by Mr. Mario A Sousa, which gave an overview of the process of drafting a poverty reduction strategy paper in Angola, whilst the other was made by Jubilee 2000 in order to convey the civil society perspective vis-а-vis PRSP.
Overview of the drafting process
In commencing his presentation, Mr. Sousa informed the conference that:
Critical Assumptions Vital for the Successful Implementation of a Poverty Reduction Strategy in Angola
- in February 2002 Angola finally reached peace after several decades of civil war;
- the country had suffered huge destruction of its human, physical and social capital and millions of people had been internally and externally displaced because of the civil war;
- Angola has around 30% of its population displaced because the war. This has unleashed a rapid impoverishment of the rural population, which has totally overwhelmed the country’s destroyed social infrastructure;
- given the current bleak social and economic context there was urgent need for a national poverty reduction strategy, which if well designed and implemented would have a positive impact in improving the living standards of the population.
For an effective poverty reduction strategy to emerge in Angola the following assumptions are of critical importance:
Some Features of Angola’s I-PRSP
- a strong level of political will on the part of local elites to accept a more equitable distribution of national income;
- a structural reform of the process governing the formulation and implementation of the national budget which would permit poor constituencies to attain a stronger voice in the allocation of public resources than has been the case previously;
- a more dynamic and proactive role of parliamentarians and civil society organizations in making the executive more accountable for the budgeting process;
- reform of the public administration in order to right size the bureaucracy so as to make it more efficient, customer driven and pro-poor sensitive in terms of service delivery;
- poverty has several dimensions and the political and institutional ones are very instrumental for the process of any poverty reduction strategy.
Mr. Sousa proceeded to critique Angola’s Interim-PRSP, which was published on the 15th of April 2002. He made the following observations:
PRSP as another new Conditionality demanded by the WB and the IMF on Indebted Countries?
- there is a lack of prioritizing and sequencing of actions, projects and programs;
- target populations are not well identified in the strategy except for specific groups (e.g. IDPs). Programs may therefore impact upon the poor and the non-poor;
- the conceptual framework underlying the poverty reduction strategy is based on pure economic growth whilst the concept of pro-poor growth is conspicuously absent;
- the ‘consultative process’ has been dominated by a top-down bureaucratic model;
- the current I-PRSP strategy is not specific in terms of outlining the roles of key stakeholders like civil society organizations, parliamentarians and local governance structures in the PRSP process;
- there have been no broad based consultations regarding the PRSP in Angola. The prevailing top-down consultative model pursued by the government cannot promote greater national ownership of the national poverty reduction strategy. Neither civil society organizations nor the private sector have meaningfully participated in drafting poverty reduction intervention;
- the gender issue has been treated in a peripheral way rather than as a crosscutting challenge, which should be mainstreamed in every anti-poverty intervention. There is no disaggregation of data in respect of the gender dimensions of poverty in the context of post-conflict peace building.
In concluding his presentation, Mr. Sousa pointed out that:
Jubilee 2000 Perspective
- the PRSP paradigm is primarily a World Bank/IMF initiative and not one conceived by indebted countries;
- the PRSP process is therefore in essence a new conditionality for debt relief under the HIPIC framework. Conditionality inherently implies an unequal distribution of power between the donor and recipient, regardless of the phraseology of ‘partnerships’, ‘cooperating partners’ etc.;
- the most innovative feature of the PRSP paradigm is the requirement that obliges government to conduct a broad based consultative process with civil society in order to promote consensus building and local ownership of the PRSP process;
- the issue of poverty reduction should be contextualized in its global ramifications because ultimately it involves a more equitable redistribution of income and trading relations at the global level.
A representative of the Angolan Jubilee 2000 shared some of their views and concerns on the economic situation in Angola following the long civil war, the prospects of peace and the opportunity for development in various areas. He states that the indicators of poverty were many, and appealed to the government to target these areas. He pointed out that there was need for transparency in the public sector expenditure. He mentioned that several fora have been held to discuss poverty issues, including strategies for poverty reduction, and that Jubilee 2000 had taken over the leadership to fight for poverty reduction. In this regard, and in line with IMF requirements, the government had established a multidisciplinary group of professionals from various ministries and other organizations to look at the issue of poverty reduction.
The presentation from Ghana disseminated the process of development of the country’s fight against poverty from the standpoint of Ghana’s Poverty Reduction Strategy(GPRS) which preceded the IMF/World Bank PRSP concept. This presentation was delivered bythe Hon. Mrs. Gifty E. Kusi-MP.
The Hon. Mrs. Kusi commenced her presentation by informing the conference that:
Dimensions of Poverty in Ghana
- the Ghana Poverty Reduction Program defines poverty as ‘unacceptable deprivation both psychological’. It is seen as multi-dimensional and may be caused by among others by:
- lack of the capacity of the poor to influence social processes and public policy choices of resource allocation;
- low capacities through lack of education, vocational skills, entrepreneurial abilities, poor health and poor quality of life;
- the disadvantaged position of women in society;
- low levels of consumption through lack of access to capital, social assets, land and market opportunities;
- exposure to shocks due to limited use of technology to stem effects of disasters like floods etc.
The Hon. Mrs. Kusi went on to illustrate the dimensions of poverty in Ghana by highlighting the following points:
- poverty is characterized by low income, malnutrition, ill health, illiteracy and insecurity as well as feelings of powerlessness and isolation;
- poverty in Ghana has important gender dimensions and studies have shown that women experience greater poverty, have heavier time burdens, lower rates of utilization of productive resources and lower literacy rates.
The Hon. Mrs. Kusi noted that:
- the objectives of the participatory process were to ensure reflection of views of average citizens in the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS), to ensure input of government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, to ensure civil society’s role in implementation is well defined and to enhance the advocacy and ‘watch dog’ role of civil society;
- the methodology employed included the use of roundtables, seminars, briefing notes and workshops with defined outputs. Sessions were organized for various groupings. These groups were selected on the basis of their ability to build broad legitimacy for the GPRS;
- local level community consultations were conducted to disseminate information on the GPRS and to obtain community perceptions on poverty;
- Members of Parliament and representatives of political parties were consulted through a two day retreat and a one day seminar to obtain their comments and inputs.
In concluding her presentation on the Ghanaian experience, the Hon. Mrs. Kusi noted that:
- since the process of preparing the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy predated the initiative to prepare PRSP s internationally, one could definitively regard Ghana’s initiative as home grown and owned, with government firmly driving the process forward;
- Ghana has adopted the goal of ensuring sustainable equitable growth, accelerated poverty reduction and the protection of the vulnerable and excluded within a decentralized, democratic environment;
- the GPRS has set the short, medium term policies for poverty reduction, as well as the long-term requirements for structural reform and many challenges will need to be taken into account.
The presentation from Madagascar was made by a representative of civil society from an organization called ‘Association for the Promotion of Entrepreneurship in Madagascar (APEM)
In its introductory phase, the Madagascar country paper pointed out the following:
Madagascar’s Poverty Profile
- Madagascar had been implementing structural adjustment programs for the last twenty years without tangible results;
- in spite of successive debt referrals with the Paris Club, since 1981 Madagascar’s debt burden has not gotten lighter.
In illustrating the incidence of poverty in Madagascar, the paper noted that:
The Madagascar PRSP’ s Three Pronged Assault on Poverty
- almost half of the children of school going age do not attend school;
- illiteracy, which affects more than half of the population, has a higher rate amongst the youth;
- almost one third of the Malagasy people have a life expectancy below 40;
- more than three quarters of the Malagasy people do not have access to safe drinking water;
- food energy intake of three out of four Malagasy is lower than the minimum requirements of 2133 calories a day;
- the poverty index, which was 59% in 1985, then reached a peak of 74 % in 1993 and dropped to merely 69 % in 1997 and 67.3% in 1999.
Madagascar’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper envisaged a three-pronged assault on poverty on the following fronts:
The Participatory/Consultative Process
- achievement of a significant degree of growth in which the poor can take part;
- development of the basic social infrastructure (education, health, safe drinking water) and extending safety nets for the most vulnerable categories of the population;
- enhanced good governance through decentralization and de-concentration as well as empowerment of local communities in order to curb corruption.
Preparation of Madagascar’s PRSP has been characterized by a participatory paradigm
which took the form of the following activities:
- sectoral workshops (rural development, private sector, population policy);
- thematic workshops (household surveys), which took place at national, provincial and regional levels;
- a major assumption of the PRSP is that civil society organizations will track the implementation process to ensure stipulated targets are met.
The paper concluded by observing that:
- though the PRSP paradigm is primarily a World Bank/IMF initiative and not one conceived by indebted countries, it marks a major improvement on previous conditionalities in its inclusion of popular participation in PRSP preparation;
- the PRSP is essentially a palliative, whereas debt cancellation would lead to significant poverty reduction in the global context.