Can the poor influence policy? Participatory poverty
assessment in the developing world
C.M. Robb. 1998. Directions in Development - The World Bank. 128 pp.
In the wake of the 1990 World Development Report on Poverty, poverty studies have become of critical importance to the World Bank as poverty reduction was declared as its core purpose. Since the mid-1990s, it has made increasing use of participatory techniques in its poverty assessment work at the country level. This publication reviews the work accomplished and synthesizes the lessons learned in three main topics: the understanding of poverty, the influence of participatory poverty assessments (PPAs) on policy, and the capacity building of institutions that should play a role in poverty alleviation. The author then summarizes emerging good practice and discusses the complementarity of PPAs with traditional socio-economic surveys.
If most of the findings of these assessments come as no surprise to readers familiar with community development and participatory approaches, the fact that these findings are being given appropriate attention by professionals from a predominantly macroeconomic and financial background is, in itself, a major breakthrough. This publication will therefore contribute to strengthening the legitimacy of participatory approaches. The lessons learned in conducting such exercises are consistent with those emerging from similar processes around the world. Not surprisingly, the findings also confirm the importance of household food security and nutrition issues in poverty alleviation. The style reads easily and the conclusions are presented in a professional and user-friendly way.
This book should constitute a useful reference to development institutions working in Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Benin, Brazil, Burundi, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mexico, Mozambique, the Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Republic of Moldova, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Togo, Uganda, Ukraine, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia. It is indeed essential to ensure synergy of activities in this area and the policy dialogue initiated by the World Bank in these countries (which has itself in most cases built upon previous work by other organizations) should be used as a basis for further activities at the country level.
Nutrition Programmes Service