Developing or strengthening a poverty reduction strategy is on the agenda of about 70 low-income countries, most immediately in the countries receiving debt relief under the enhanced HIPC (Highly Indebted Poor Countries) Initiative. The resulting Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) was broadly endorsed by the Bank and Fund Boards as the basis of concessional assistance from the two institutions.
The Sourcebook is a guide to assist countries in the development and strengthening of poverty reduction strategies. The Sourcebook reflects the thinking and practices associated with the Comprehensive Development Framework, as well as lessons emerging from the World Development Report on Poverty, and good international practices related to poverty reduction.
The Sourcebook was prepared mainly by Bank and Fund staff and reflects their experience working in various sectors and regions, although it has benefited from feedback from government officials in several African countries and from staff of related UN organizations. While the drafts have been reviewed by the heads of the relevant sectors at the Bank and Fund, they do not necessarily represent official World Bank/IMF policy.
It is important to note that the Sourcebook is a "living document" which is expected to change in light of experience and comments. It is intended only to be suggestive and to be selectively used as a resource to provide information about possible approaches. It does not provide "the answers," which can emerge only as a result of analysis and dialogue at a country level.
How to Use the Sourcebook
The book seeks to provide guidance both on the process aspects of the PRS and on substantive aspects of poverty diagnosis and the formulation of a strategy to address poverty in its various dimensions. As emphasized above, however, the book is not intended to be prescriptive: it is not expected that any country would apply the guidelines in the entire book. Nor is the book a panacea for all the difficult issues that countries will face in putting together a PRS because PRSP development represents a learning experience for World Bank and IMF staff just as it does for national authorities.
It is expected that the majority of readers will use this document selectively. The chapters in volume 2 (macroeconomic and sectoral approaches) are likely to be useful mainly for staff in the respective line ministries. For example, staff in the ministry of education may be interested in particular aspects of chapter 19, "Education" (to help determine whether the input mix for schools is appropriate), and in cross-references to chapter 6, "Public Spending" (to assess expenditure tradeoffs), and chapter 3, "Monitoring and Evaluation" (to establish methods to track changes over time).
Some aspects of the core techniques section in volume 1 are likely to be useful for many people involved in preparing PRSPs—but, again, only staff with the relevant responsibility are likely to examine any one chapter in its entirety. Hence, readers concerned with a specific sector or topic are encouraged to refer directly to their area of interest, although there are cross-references in each of the chapters to important related areas of the book.
Each chapter adopts a layered approach, with technical notes on procedures to follow suitable for persons with technical expertise in a country, together with case studies, resource material, and references.
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