Syed Mohammad Ali

2005-06 International Policy Fellow
Open Society Promotion in Predominantly Muslim Societies working group

With the launch of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) in 1999, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) conceded that a sense of local ownership and participation in poverty reduction is vital for making economic growth more equitable. For Pakistan, policy recommendations that can infuse greater participation in the PRSP are of particular relevance since the country's PRSP is currently in the process of being revised. As the PRSP is being implemented, there are a limited range of options for making the process more participatory. The main constraints are the need for acceptance of the PRSP by all parties, limited institutional capacity, the costs involved and the time limitations. Given that the PRSP is subject to recurrent updates, the best way to infuse more participation is to review the policy options during this updating process. The current review process should not be solely confined to impact analysis but should actively solicit increased input from previously neglected segments of society. This should address how poverty reduction may be more effective, even if such feedback requires conceptual or programmatic changes. Although this might be a more gradual approach, it is the only feasible policy option to turn the rhetoric of participation into reality.