Southern African Regional Poverty Network (SARPN) SARPN thematic photo
Regional themes > Poverty reduction frameworks and critiques Last update: 2020-11-27  

 Related documents

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

Alex Warren-Rodriguez

School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS)


Posted with permission of the author.
[Download complete version - 521Kb ~ 3 min (45 pages)]     [ Share with a friend  ]


This paper examines how the role of science and technology as a driver of economic growth and poverty reduction has been addressed in poverty reduction strategy papers (PRSP) formulated over the last five years in various least developed countries. This analysis is based on a synoptic review of eleven PRSP documents prepared in countries in the sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America regions; Also, 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 in somewhat weak. Hence, whilst most countries recognise, in some form or other, the importance of promoting S&T development as part of their PRSP strategies, they fail to incorporate these issues in a systematic way in the various policy spheres relevant for S&T development. This is especially notable in areas such as international trade and investment, private sector development or the generation of local scientific and technological knowledge. As a result, these documents generally lack of clearly defined and comprehensive strategies that put S&T at the centre of these countries’ development programmes. In this context, the case study of the Mozambican PRSP formulation process suggests that some of these problems may relate to underlying weaknesses affecting these countries’ planning and budget formulation systems, highlighting the need to address the incorporation of S&T in PRSPs in the wider context of general government reform and the harmonisation and alignment of donor practices in these countries. It is in this perspective that the paper concludes with some suggestions as to how the full incorporation of S&T considerations can be improved in the formulation of future country PRSPs.


Over the last decade the development policy agenda in many least developed countries (LDCs) in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America has been heavily dominated by the formulation and implementation of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP). An initial wave of PRSP documents started being formulated in the early 2000s. Since then, over forty countries have participated in this PRS process.

These policy documents have aimed at instilling a greater poverty focus to these countries’ developmental programmes by presenting a comprehensive package of policy initiatives in the various relevant spheres of government intervention. Frequently, they have been accompanied by comprehensive reforms in government budgeting, planning and financial management systems aimed at strengthening their mid-term policy frameworks and strategic planning tools for poverty reduction. In most instances, the preparation of these strategic policy papers has also involved some degree of consultation with relevant national stakeholders – e.g. government agencies, parliament, civil society and the private sector – in an attempt to increase country ownership of these programmes and, ultimately, add force to these poverty reduction policy efforts.

In recent years numerous programmes have been established to monitor and assess progress in the formulation and implementation of the PRS process around the world. These range from those set up by international development agencies, such as the World bank, the IMF, the UNDP or UNIDO, to more independent and research-based initiatives, including the Overseas Development Institute’s PRSP Monitoring and Synthesis Project, EURODAD’s work on Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) or the Bretton Woods Project’s work on structural adjustment and poverty reduction strategy programmes (SAPs/PRSPs). In this context, several studies have been conducted to examine particular aspects of the PRS process and the content of related PRSP documents. These include both cross-country and conceptual papers examining the PRSP coverage of issues such as gender (Whitehead, 2003), trade (Hewitt and Gillson, 2003; UNCTAD, 2004), private sector development (EURODAD, 2002), macroeconomic and growth considerations (Gottschalk, 2005; Driscoll and Evans, 2006), or issues relating to civil society participation in country-level PRS processes (Wood, 2005), their integration within national public expenditure and financial management systems1 and country ownership of PRSPs (Stewart, 2003).

Following this earlier comparative literature on the PRS process, this paper examines how recent PRSP country documents have addressed and incorporated science and technology (henceforth S&T) considerations into their poverty reduction policy strategies. This analysis is partly based on a synoptic survey examining the S&T content in eleven recently finalised PRSP documents. This exercise is complemented with a case study of the Mozambican 2005 PRS process that lead to the elaboration of the 2006–2010 Action Plan for the Reduction of Absolute Poverty (PARPA, in its Portuguese acronym). This case study provides insight into how S&T issues were addressed during the process that lead to the formulation of this document, as well as into the various constraints and problems faced during this process, therefore, enriching the more ‘static’ analysis resulting from the synoptic survey undertaken in the previous section. On the basis of these various analyses the paper concludes with a summary of main findings and some policy recommendations of how the PRS process can be improved to enhance the S&T content and focus of poverty reduction efforts in least developed countries.

Octoplus Information Solutions Top of page | Home | Contact SARPN | Disclaimer