The Poor In Jamaica Can Have a Greater Say in Government Policy: A Comparative Analysis
Development thinking has changed significantly in recent years. Policymakers have recognized the ability of the poor to make a valuable contribution to the analysis of poverty and are consulting them directly. This new participatory approach has resulted in a broader definition of poverty and better-informed public policies that are more responsive to the needs of the poor. By the end of the 1990s, there was growing recognition by governments and civil society of the need to change the way national strategies to reduce poverty were developed and implemented. Previous strategies had met with little success in Latin America and Africa, and poverty was on the rebound in East Asia after the financial crisis of 1997-98. It had become clear that, to succeed, poverty reduction programs needed to be developed by the countries themselves—rather than imposed from the outside—and that the input of the poor was critical to the development of effective poverty reduction strategies. In September 1999, the World Bank and the IMF agreed to major changes in their operations to help low-income countries achieve sustainable poverty reduction. Henceforth, programs supported by the two institutions will be based on government-driven poverty reduction strategies (PRSs) developed in consultation with civil society and summarized in poverty reduction strategy papers (PRSPs). In formulating poverty reduction strategies, policymakers have begun consulting the poor directly through participatory poverty assessments (PPAs), a methodology developed during the 1990s by governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), academic institutions, and donors. Although many methods have long existed for consulting the poor on the development of projects, PPAs are different in that their findings are intended to be used in national policymaking. To date, more than 50 countries have undertaken PPAs with assistance from the World Bank; an equal number of PPAs have been conducted by other agencies, including the United Nations Development Program, bilaterals, and NGOs.
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