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Do PRSPs Empower Poor Countries And Disempower The World Bank, or is it the Other Way Round?

Listed author(s):
  • Frances Stewart and Michael Wang

Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) have been introduced by the World Bank and the IMF as a necessary aspect of securing HIPC debt relief and access to other funds. They are intended to increase national 'ownership' of programmes, through extensive participation. This paper assesses whether they actually do empower poor countries, by exploring the process and content of the PRSPs. It finds that as far as civil society is concerned, the PRSPs currently permit little significant contribution to programme design. Governments appear to take a bigger role, but are also heavily constrained, especially with respect to macro-policy. The fact that the content of PRSPs is very similar to previous adjustment packages suggest that little real change has occurred through this process. Moreover, some large IFI programmes are unaffected by the process. Hence PRSPs do not significantly empower poor countries. They may give the appearance of greater ownership, but so long as there is no significant underlying change, such a change in perceptions about ownership, which could make IFI designed programmes more effective and thereby empower them, is likely to be short lived

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Paper provided by Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford in its series QEH Working Papers with number qehwps108.

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Handle: RePEc:qeh:qehwps:qehwps108
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  1. John Hoddinott, 2002. "Participation and Poverty Reduction: An Analytical Framework and Overview of the Issues," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 11(1), pages 146-168, March.
  2. Idrissa Dante & Jean-FranÁois Gautier & Mohamed Ali Marouani & Marc Raffinot, 2003. "Mali," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 21(2), pages 217-234, March.
  3. Hans Falck & Kåre Landfald & Pamela Rebelo, 2003. "Mozambique," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 21(2), pages 235-252, March.
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