Influencing Poverty Reduction Strategies A Guide | Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper

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This document is intended as a resource for Oxfam staff and for other organisations concerned with influencing and monitoring national policy making in developing countries to the benefit of the poor. The document will focus on policy making in low-income countries, because current donor conditionality demands civil society participation in planning and in the implementation of plans under the new Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper programme (PRSP) introduced by the World Bank and IMF. However, many of the areas covered will be useful to organisations working in middle-income, or even developed countries.
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    Influencing Poverty Reduction Strategies: A Guide  Influencing Poverty Reduction Strategies: A Guide Contents Introduction.......................................................................................................2   Section one. Background: Participation in Planning and the PRSP process3   Section two. Participation by Civil Society in Policy Monitoring and Implementation..............................................................................................8   Participation....................................................................................................8   Section three. Influencing the Content of Policy..........................................13   Influencing policy content: promoting policy choices......................................13   Influencing policy content: gender and diversity.............................................14   How to maximise policy influence..................................................................15   Section four. Monitoring the Implementation of Policy................................22   Implementation; critical for the credibility of the PRSP initiative.....................22   Monitoring policy implementation: gender and diversity.................................23   Monitoring policy implementation: the role of budgets...................................23   Beyond budgets: monitoring outcomes..........................................................30   Annex one. Influencing Policy Content: Reform debates in low-income countries......................................................................................................32   Annex two. Links to other sources of information.......................................48   1  Influencing Poverty Reduction Strategies: A Guide Introduction Use of document This document is intended as a resource for Oxfam staff and for other organisations concerned with influencing and monitoring national policy making in developing countries to the benefit of the poor. The document will focus on policy making in low-income countries, because current donor conditionality demands civil society participation in planning and in the implementation of plans under the new Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper programme (PRSP) introduced by the World Bank and IMF. However, many of the areas covered will be useful to organisations working in middle-income, or even developed countries. Structure of this Document This document is split into four sections. Section one gives a background and introduction to the increasing opportunities for civil society to participate in policy formulation and implementation in low income countries, and in particular the new opportunities created by the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper programme introduced jointly by the World Bank and IMF. Section two  looks at what is meant by the participation of Civil Society organisations in policy formulation and implementation, and particularly those organisations made up of or representing the poorest sections of society and women. It gives a definition of the different levels of participation and what is required to ensure that meaningful participation is achieved. As such it provides a resource for influencing and assessing the participatory process in individual countries. Section three looks at the policy formulation process, and specifically how the content of policies can be influenced by Civil Society to ensure that they are pro-poor and will ensure poverty reduction. It therefore provides a resource for Civil Society Organisations seeking to influence the content of national policies and in particular PRSPs. Annex one then contains a table of the typical policy reforms mooted for low-income countries and the arguments for and against. Section four looks at monitoring of policy implementation. It examines the role Civil Society Organisations can play in ensuring that pro-poor policies are actually implemented and the impact on poverty reduction is maximised. Gender and diversity In each of the sections there will be a particular focus on the involvement of women and other marginalised groups in national poverty strategies and PRSPs Lastly annex two contains useful links to other sources of information on each area and on PRSPs as a whole.   2  Influencing Poverty Reduction Strategies: A Guide Section one. Background: Participation in Planning and the PRSP process Participation and planning Developing country governments produce a range of plans to guide development; these can range from long-term plans such as Vision 2020 (Ghana, Malawi, Cambodia), to medium term plans such as the Ninth Five-Year Plan 2001-5 in Vietnam. Frequently such plans develop ‘wish-lists’ of projects for donor funding, rather than prioritising public spending in the short and medium term; most have addressed poverty reduction as an ‘add-on’ to a national development strategy. At present many developing country governments also develop policies at national and local levels with extremely limited participation of poor women and men, civil society, and also the legislature. Even within government, in many cases weaker Ministries have limited influence, with the Ministries of Finance and Planning generally dominating the policy debate. Much policy design is influenced by the political elite, the wealthy, and by international financial institutions and donors, particularly the IMF and WB. Donor influence has been greatly enhanced through adjustment programmes in both low and middle-income countries, and debt crises of various sorts have deepened such influence enormously. Recent changes Over the past few years this position has changed slightly. There has been increased donor emphasis on government ownership and leadership, and on civil society involvement in the design and implementation of policies and plans. During the past decade substantial experience has also developed with poor women and mens’ participation in project design, particularly through PRA/RRA 2  techniques. These approaches have been further developed into Participatory Poverty Assessments (PPAs), which have the potential to become an extremely useful tool for poverty reduction planning and implementation.  At the same time, partly through the recognition by donors of the failure of structural adjustment programmes to make sufficient inroads on reducing poverty, and partly through moves towards linking increased debt relief to poverty reduction (as a result of the Jubilee 2000 debt campaign), there has been a renewed emphasis on poverty reduction as the central theme of government action in low-income countries. This move has also been influenced by the widespread agreement to achieve the international development goals for 2015 (see box below). The goals have been adopted by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the members of the Development  Assistance Committee of the OECD, and many other agencies. They found a new expression in the Millennium Declaration of the United Nations, adopted by the General  Assembly in September 2000. As such they are the key targets towards which all development planning should aim. 3   1  Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA)/Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA) 2  Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA)/Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA) 3  Further information on the IDT can be found at www.developmentgoals.org  3
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