Working Paper

IDS discussion papers;382

Research on the Current State of PRS Monitoring Systems

Published on 1 January 2004

This report reviews recent literature on monitoring Poverty Reduction Strategies. It discusses four challenging areas: institutional arrangements; the role of non-government organisations; implementation and intermediate output monitoring; and using results.

The main findings are:

  • Severe capacity constraints are not sufficiently acknowledged. International agencies should be less ambitious about what can be achieved and in what time frame.
  • The “technical secretariats”, responsible for implementing monitoring, are of central importance. Their need for analytical skills is widely acknowledged, but expertise in data management, communication and marketing are also necessary.
  • Building cooperation between ministries and agencies responsible for producing data is proving difficult. Success often depends on the status, capabilities and personalities of key people, not on formal mandates and frameworks.
  • Unless countries have strong local monitoring systems, it is hard to see that building local PRS monitoring capacity should be an immediate priority, given the magnitude of this task.
  • There is often confusion about the role of civil society in government monitoring systems.
  • It is important that all stakeholders are aware of the involvement offered and that sufficient thought is given to the capacity, information access and influence required for civil society to perform their role.
  • The “chains of causality” between policies and outcomes remain problematic. This leads to problems in identifying appropriate intermediate indicators. Given scarce resources, a focus on monitoring budget allocations – linked to a small set of basic provision indicators – may be a reasonable and realistic starting point.
  • Administrative data provide essential information, but often not of sufficient quality for PRS monitoring. It is worth exploring possibilities for combining them with other sources to generate “best estimates”.
  • Demand for PRS monitoring information, other than to meet donor requirements, is often very weak. Monitoring systems must include marketing and communication activities to build this demand. Keywords: PRSPs, monitoring, evaluation, participatory processes, poverty assessments, institutional reform, decentralisation, poverty indicators.

The findings of the fieldwork support the hypothesis that communities exposed to the risk of civil war consciously take rational courses of action over their assets to confront the adverse effects of the war. One apparent policy implication that arises from this is that communities exposed to civil war consciously manage their assets, it is possible to pursue poverty programmes during conflict in order to support the innovative household assets management strategies as well as addressing the underlying sources of grievance and horizontal inequality. While such programmes may not be relevant to communities exposed to endogenous counterinsurgency warfare, they are appropriate to support assets management strategies adopted by households exposed to exogenous counterinsurgency warfare.


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Henry Lucas

Research Fellow

Publication details

published by
Institute of Development Studies
Lucas, H., Evans, D. and Pasteur, K. with Lloyd, R.
IDS Discussion Paper, issue 382
1 85864 852 1


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