3.1 Botswana Poverty Reduction Tender
The Botswana Government has awarded a tender to the Gaborone office of the UNDP to formulate
a National Poverty Reduction Strategy for the country. The UNDP team is expected to submit
its report within the first quarter of next year. As a middle income country, Botswana falls
outside the PRSP initiative of the IMF and the World Bank. The background to the tender lies
in the results of a number of commissioned reports which have noted that despite Botswana's
impressive record of sustained economic growth, the national poverty rate has only declined
from 59% of the population in 1985 to 47% in 1994.
Specific terms of reference for the project include:
- Producing a national strategy in line with the development goals, aspirations and objectives
of the Botswana government's Vision 2016 policy document;
- Critically reviewing the design, implementation, management and evaluation of existing
intersectoral policies and programmes;
- Critically reviewing current poverty-related sectoral polices, strategies and programmes and
to suggest ways of re-focussing and harmonising them for increased efficiency and
- Investigate causes of poverty and to recommend effective reduction strategies for individual
and household self- sustenance;
- Assessing the institutional arrangement, capacity and overall effectiveness of existing
institutional structures at both the national, district, sub-district and community levels
and to recommend improvements.
An interesting aspect of the tender is the decision by the Botswana government to establish
a wide-ranging reference group to oversee the project. Members of the reference group
include members drawn from various civil society age ncies, the national umbrella agencies,
Bocongo and Bocobonet.
Linking up: The SARPN www contains the full terms of reference for the tender. It can be
The UNDP co-ordinator of the project is Sennye Obuseng. He can be contacted at
3.2 Parliaments and poverty reduction strategies
Poverty reduction strategies in Africa needed to give far more attention to the role of
parliamentarians to ensure they were not marginalised in the formulation and implementation
of PRSPs. This point was made in a declaration by African parliamentarians who participated
in the recent Dakar Forum for Poverty Reduction in Africa. To illustrate their perceived
marginalisation the group noted that parliamentarians constituted only seven of the 300
delega tes. An earlier PRSP conference was attended by only three parliamentarians.
The declaration noted that African parliaments had to perform the traditional function of a
watchdog on the executive but that parliaments вЂњwere increasingly an agent of changeвЂќ.
PRSPs were meant to be a participatory process and вЂњtherefore should not exclude the
representatives of the poor themselvesвЂќ.
Specific proposals made in the declaration were:
- That governments and the donor community should ensure that MPs were a part of the
process leading to the development and implementation of PRSPs;
- That MPs participate at international, regional and local forums on poverty reduction
- That, where necessary, courses be held to upgrade the skills levels of parliamentarians to
enable them to engage effectively in the process of designing PRSPs;
- That regional parliamentary forums needed to engage with poverty reduction; if they
did not they would be вЂњirrelevant to the cause of the poorвЂќ.
Linking up: The text of the declaration can be accessed at:
3.3 Other points from the DAKAR forum
One of the central issues under discussion was the capacity of government institutions
and personnel to tackle national challenges in response to the plight of the poor.
Accountability for government actions was tied to this. Discussion revealed that some
positive steps were being taken to reduce the general outcry against poor governance. Among
them were the recent inclusion of the poor in the process of policy design, the flow of
information to the rural poor, a more positive and pro-active interaction between
parliaments and civil society, the decentralisation of government to local levels and other
outreach programmes as having a positive impact on accountability. Delegates agreed that if
these actions were to be maintained, it would be necessary to cultivate tendencies like
freedom of expression, an independent judiciary and a wellequipped free press.
Delegates agreed that to make sustained and serious inroads against poverty, it was
necessary to formulate monetary, fiscal and structural policies aimed at maximising per
capita labour productivity by the poor. To achieve this government budgets should target
capacity building for the poor by providing them with skills in areas such as education,
health, capital, infrastructure, management skills and other necessary tools to increase
their capacity to meet both local and global market demands. Prioritisation of government
expenditure on these should be based on a clear understanding of the impact and efficiency
of the particular choices made, given the capacity of the available supporting institutions
and the wishes of the poor themselves.
The importance of analysing empirical situations, monitoring the relevance of existing
policies and following up on programmes was highlighted. Governments needed to be properly
informed about the situation on the ground; this implied the need to use appropriate
measuring techniques and equipment to gather the relevant information. Co-ordination of
information input to government was necessary to create a systematic approach in addressing
common experiences and also to facilitate the assessment of policy outcomes. The role of the
poor themselves in this process was not clear because of the disparity in perception between
the local and the national levels.
National ownership and broad endorsement of poverty reduction strategies necessitated a
shift in donor practices to the empowerment of governments that had earned consensus on
national priorities. Delegates agreed that the focus of donors ought to be on the outcomes
of policies and programmes rather than on conditionalities and ex ante promises. It was
important for countries to be able to develop their own solutions and strategies to
implement policies that were deemed essential to the reduction of poverty. Governments also
needed to be able to predict the commitments of donors in financing medium term plans, but
they also had to show their own commitment in achieving set out objectives with a clear
mechanism for domestic accountability.
Delegates also agreed that poverty was at the heart of conflict situations and action was
needed to reduce their potential.
Linking up: For more information on the conference summary and papers:
3.4 Different Poverties, Different Policies
The Development Studies Association of the University of Manchester held a three day
international conference from the 10th вЂ“ 12th September 2001 with the title вЂњDifferent
Poverties, Different PoliciesвЂќ. Over 100 papers were presented; many had a direct relevance
to Southern African themes. The papers dealt with a variety of issues affecting poverty,
including trade, economic growth, management of natural resources, land reform and relations
with donor countries and organisations.
Panel titles included Development Management, Core Issues on Chronic Poverty, Policies on
the Measurement of Poverty and Poverty Reduction, Labour and Migration, Remote Rural Spatial
Poverty Traps, Social Exclusion and Demilitarisation.
Linking up: These papers should be of interest to a wide group of persons and institutions
active in Southern Africa. The papers may be accessed at: