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Report of the International Conference on Poverty Reduction Strategy in Africa

5. Discussion
 
After the country presentations, discussions were held, which included comments and questions. Issues raised were as follows:

  1. For the PRSP to be successful, there was need for the country environment to be conducive in terms of good governance issues such as civil society participation, political will and fighting corruption etc. Adequate time was required to ensure the full participation of all the stakeholders, including the poor people themselves.


  2. Members of Parliament were key stakeholders who should have been involved from the launch of the PRSP right through to the approval stage.


  3. Appropriate Monitoring and Evaluation mechanisms, as well as performance indicators need to be developed.


  4. There appears to be a missing link between economic growth at the macro-level and poverty reduction benefits at the micro-level. There was need to find a way of bridging the gap.


  5. Instead of despairing, there was need to consider the PRSP as a positive move for Africa, with a chance to decide its own destiny. What was important was to ensure extensive consultation for there to be national ownership.


  6. The issue of government subsidies, especially in the agricultural sector, requires to be looked at critically. Especially in light of the fact that the IMF and World Bank appear to apply double standards in that they insist that African governments should not subsidize agriculture while industrialized countries subsidize their farmers, making their products cheaper.


  7. In order for the PRSP process to be sustainable, there was a need for adequate funds to facilitate the consultative and participatory process involving all stakeholders.


  8. There was need for African governments to study critically the cost of implementing the PRSP and determine whether it is worthwhile to proceed with the process. In other words, how were they financing the PRSP apart from the HIPC funds.


  9. The importance of accessibility to public information cannot be overemphasized. Information sharing between and among all the stakeholders on best practices, as well as the easy availability of such information was key to fighting poverty. There was also need for stakeholders, especially Members of Parliament, to be provided with adequate information on the PRSP in order for them to appreciate the process and therefore participate effectively. Government and the civil society organizations need to work together as partners, therefore there was no need to hide information from each other.


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