Working Paper

IDS working papers;109

Participation in Poverty Reduction Strategies: A Synthesis of Experience With Participatory Approaches To Policy Design, Implementation and Monitoring

Published on 1 January 2000

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund recently endorsed the preparation and implementation of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) by borrower countries seeking to benefit from the enhanced HIPC (Highly Indebted Poor Countries) initiative. Civil society participation in the adoption and monitoring of the PRS is viewed as essential for their sustainability and effectiveness.

The purpose of this synthesis is to review the experience to date in applying participatory approaches to macro-level policy formulation, implementation and monitoring, with a view to supporting country-led facilitation of inclusive and high-quality participation in the PRS process. The participatory experiences reviewed are drawn from research initiatives, donors’ country strategies, aid coordination processes, policy advocacy campaigns, institutional change processes, budgetary analysis and formulation, and citizens’ monitoring mechanisms. Sections are organised around key themes which crystallised in the course of reviewing these experiences.

This synthesis is directed to a range of actors involved in PRSP processes. In the South, it aims to serve governments responsible for leading the process, and civil society organisations wishing to engage with it at various levels. In the North, it aims to guide and inspire bilateral and multilateral donor agencies, non-governmental development organisations and other civil society organisations seeking to play a supporting role as their Southern partners engage in national PRS processes.

The document outlines the significant challenges which must be overcome in the course of establishing participatory, sustainable, country-owned poverty reduction strategies. It testifies to the existence of many competent participation advocates and practitioners, and to a considerable wealth and depth of experience, on which governments can draw to overcome these challenges. It also highlights the need for a learning approach, and for State and donor agencies and many civil society organisations themselves to promote internal institutional changes, as the PRS process unfolds.


Image of Rosemary McGee

Rosemary McGee

Research Fellow

Publication details

published by
McGee, R. with Norton, A.
IDS Working Paper, issue 109
1 85864 304 X


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