Concepts, Research, Policy
Elgar original reference
Edited by Sylvia Chant
Chapter 79: Poverty Alleviation in a Changing Policy and Political Context: The Case of PRSPs with Particular Reference to Nicaragua
Sarah Bradshaw and Brian Linneker Since the end of the 1990s there has been a new interest in poverty shown by the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) as witnessed by the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC II) initiative. To obtain further debt relief and concessional lending governments are required to produce a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) based on both a poverty analysis of the country and a participatory design process. This is to promote ‘ownership’ of the strategy by governments and civil society, and the IFIs stress their role is only to advise and provide technical support. Although not prescriptive, guidelines are provided by the World Bank in a ‘Sourcebook’ and the suggested policy bundle does promote a more holistic approach than previous initiatives, including a focus on social policy elements such as health and education, as well as social safety nets for the most vulnerable. A number of issues are suggested as cross-cutting themes, including gender. The PRSP process has been said to mark a new era for the IFIs on a number of counts, not least the new focus on poverty rather than economic growth. However, critics of PRSPs have questioned the extent to which both the process and the focus on poverty is new (Booth, 2003; Bradshaw and Linneker, 2003; Cammack, 2002; Whitehead, 2003). Guidelines contained in the Sourcebook highlight that economic growth remains the ‘single most important factor influencing poverty’ and all the new social elements promoted within PRSPs are presented as important to promote...
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