Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, 25(4), December 2007, pages 247–258
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Sustainability assessment of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers

adjustment programmes, forced upon the recipient          ...
Sustainability assessment of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers

vulnerability to environmental calamities, while         t...
Sustainability assessment of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers

at higher decision-making levels (Alshuwaikhat,           ...
Sustainability assessment of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers

partner countries). Apart from Vietnam and Bolivia,       ...
Sustainability assessment of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers

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Sustainability assessment of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers

documents. Clear expenditure programmes for envi-         ...
Sustainability assessment of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers

sustainability strengths and weaknesses of a PRSP.        ...
Sustainability assessment of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers

national PRSPs. The ranking of the PRSPs is in line       ...
Sustainability assessment of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers


  Annex 1 (continued)
  Issue                            ...
Sustainability assessment of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers


  Annex 1 (continued)
  Issue                            ...
Sustainability assessment of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers

Brocklesby, M A and E Hinshelwood 2001. Poverty and the en...
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Sustainability Assessment of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers

  1. 1. Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, 25(4), December 2007, pages 247–258 DOI: 10.3152/146155107X233471; http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/beech/iapa Sustainability assessment of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers Jean Hugé and Luc Hens Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) are a central instrument in international development co- operation and of key importance in guiding donors’ policies towards southern recipients. However, many aspects of the PRSP have been criticised by a variety of development stakeholders. A checklist of 85 questions has been developed to analyse the inclusion of aspects of sustainable development in PRSPs and to point to sustainability challenges and opportunities. It thus facilitates targeted advice and quality improvements. The checklist was applied to a selection of 12 PRSPs of developing countries. The results reveal an insufficient integration of the ecosystem services concept, of biodiversity and of climate issues. Property rights, gender issues, water and energy are as a rule well elaborated. PRSPs show significant variation in the integration of environmental sustainability issues. Sustainability assessments can contribute to significant improvements between first and second generation PRSPs provided the assessments are supported by a strong institutional framework and a dedicated political commitment towards sustainability. Keywords: sustainability assessment, PRSP, development co-operation, checklist P OVERTY REDUCTION STRATEGY Papers (PRSPs) have become a central instrument in development co-operation since their introduc- tion in 1999. They are presented by the Bretton Woods institutions as being comprehensive, results- The PRSP approach is originally strongly donor driven, as its genesis is linked to the Heavily In- debted Poor Countries Initiative. Although the suc- cess of the approach has been uneven, the PRSP quickly embodied the new approach to international oriented policy frameworks to reduce poverty and development aid at the turn of the century. However, they are the basis of the “new aid architecture”, many aspects of the PRSP have been criticised by a characterised by a strengthened country ownership variety of development stakeholders. of the development process (Holvoet and Renard, In theory, five basic principles are supposed to 2005). underpin the PRSP approach: country ownership; comprehensiveness; results-orientation; partnership; and a long-term horizon. Critics have especially tackled the interpretation of the ownership idea, Jean Hugé (corresponding author) and Luc Hens are in the typically being defined as “the situation where part- Human Ecology Department, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Free ner countries exercise effective leadership over their University of Brussels), Laarbeeklaan 103, 1090 Brussels, Bel- development policies and strategies” (Paris Declara- gium; Emails: Jean.Huge@vub.ac.be; human.ecology@vub.ac. be; Tel: +32 2 4774926 or +32 2 4774281; Fax: +32 2 4774964. tion, 2005), combined with an active participation This paper is in fulfilment of the terms of reference of the from civil society in the policy-making process. project “Sustainable development co-operation: the development Guttal et al (2001), expressing the view of southern of sustainability assessment instruments for Poverty Reduction non-governmental organisations (NGOs), contest Strategy Papers for Belgian development co-operation”, the novelty of the PRSP approach. The widely ac- supported by the Flemish Inter-University Council (VLIR) in the framework of the 2005–2007 Policy Support Research Pro- claimed principle of ‘country ownership’ is not be- gramme for the Belgian Development Co-operation (Directorate- ing respected; PRSPs are said to be only a new name General for Development Co-operation). recycling the ideas underlying the failed structural Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal December 2007 1461-5517/07/040247-12 US$08.00 © IAIA 2007 247
  2. 2. Sustainability assessment of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers adjustment programmes, forced upon the recipient developing countries. In fact, existing pre-PRSP pol- countries by the international financial institutions icy documents, such as the Ugandan Poverty Eradi- (IFIs). cation Action Plan, have been used as an inspiring Even if the idea of broad participation in the model by the international financial institutions in PRSP drafting has succeeded in improving poverty developing the PRSP as an instrument (Piron and diagnostics and to a certain extent in improving Norton, 2004). Furthermore, PRSPs can contribute transparency and accountability, it has failed to in- to defining a strategy to achieve the Millennium De- fluence macro-economic choices (IEO, 2004). The velopment Goals (World Resources, 2005), even if (cosmetic) inclusion of the poor in the PRSP process there is no consensus on this. does not guarantee a thorough analysis of the politi- The importance of PRSPs cannot be ignored, cal economy of poverty and inequality in the even- notwithstanding the many pertinent criticisms still tual PRSP document; this points to the duplicity of surrounding the approach. the whole participation discourse (Craig and Porter, 2003). Sustainable development Externally triggered top-down participation often results in subtle co-option and fails to give a repre- Given the alleged comprehensiveness and strategic sentative picture of the opinions of the various parts importance of PRSPs, and the range of poverty- of civil society. The uneven involvement of different related sustainability issues, we might reasonably civil society groups can even fuel segregation be- expect sustainable development to be a guiding prin- tween those who participate and those whose voice ciple of the PRSP approach. The classic definition of was not heard at all. It thus appears that participation sustainability, based on Brundtland’s report (WCED, in the PRSP process is often far from a complete 1987: 54–76), “[s]ustainable development is devel- success. International NGOs such as Coopération opment that meets the needs of the present without Internationale pour le Développement et la Soli- compromising the ability of future generations to darité (CIDSE) and Caritas (2004) state that the meet their own needs”, is now widely known. In the PRSP is fundamentally compromised by being a context of this paper, the choice has been made to donor-imposed conditionality, ignoring the reality of focus on ‘environmental sustainability’. This nuance policy-making in the recipient countries. is necessary in order to point to the most salient Another major range of critics concerns the alleged shortcomings of the vast majority of analysed comprehensiveness of PRSPs. The documents ex- PRSPs. hibit an obvious lack of attention to some important While the three-pillar definition of sustainability topics such as land reform, progressive taxation, devotes equal attention to the economic, social and labour rights and environmental standards. ecological aspects of development, ‘environmental The gap between the presented characteristics of sustainability’ is defined here as the ability to main- PRSPs (such as country ownership, participation and tain the qualities that are valued in the physical envi- the alleged comprehensiveness) and their actual re- ronment. These include the ecosystem services alisation accounts for one category of critics, but the underpinning human life and the various linkages dominance of the framework compared to other pol- between these services and the socio-economic icy strategies is another major flaw. The PRSP is bases of society. The ecological dimension is thus supposed to become the only important framework emphasised, even if firmly embedded in the broader guiding the development policy of a country and the definition of sustainability. associated aid flows. In reality, important decisions While the vast literature on poverty–environment are not always taken within the PRSP framework. linkages lies outside the scope of this paper, some This reinforces the view of ‘PRSPs as theatre’. authors have produced particularly valuable analyses If this is the case, PRSPs might appear to be no that have served as a theoretical underpinning of this more than a distraction for civil society, while the research and will introduce the interested reader to real decisions are taken elsewhere. This concern has the concept of environmental sustainability from a been raised in Vietnam, where the PRSP remains a poverty–environment perspective (Dasgupta et al, relatively minor document compared with the long- 2005; DFID et al, 2002; Millennium Ecosystem As- term development strategy and five-year plan sessment, 2005; Shyamsundar, 2002). (Nguyen and Stewart, 2005). Imposing a PRSP The framing of poverty within PRSPs is by no might again severely undermine the principle of means neutral. The classic PRSP approach does not ‘country ownership’, contradicting the international consider sustainable development as a guiding prin- commitment set out in the 2005 Paris Declaration on ciple, nor does it emphasise the importance of Aid Effectiveness. sound, pro-poor natural-resources management. This This non-exhaustive list of shortcomings should contrasts with the opinions of the poor and the scien- not obscure the fact that the PRSP’s reframing of tific findings on poverty–environment linkages. The poverty is now a reality in many southern countries. literature abounds with examples of the poor them- Donors have chosen PRSPs as guiding documents selves voicing their concern about environmental for aid allocation. PRSPs have also evolved into sustainability. Craig and Porter (2003) cite the vola- genuine strategic-planning frameworks in some tility of the livelihoods of the poor because of their 248 Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal December 2007
  3. 3. Sustainability assessment of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers vulnerability to environmental calamities, while to go through the so-called ‘environmental Kuznets Participatory Poverty Assessments (PPAs) are filled curve’ before acting towards environmental sustain- with environmental concerns (Brocklesby and ability. Recent work by Dasgupta et al (2006) em- Hinshelwood, 2001). phasises the importance of sound environmental The dependence of the poor on natural resources, governance. growing population pressure, environmental health, PRSPs have a role to play as major policy docu- environment-related conflicts are some examples of ments, as they often focus on ‘good governance’ and commonly mentioned environment-related problems. can influence a country’s policy perspective for Swallow (2005) expresses concern about the low pri- many years. An environmentally sound PRSP can be ority given to environmental conservation in PRSPs. the starting point towards environmental policy inte- Besides this, the economic costs of pollution and gration, which can be defined as “the consideration natural resources’ degradation are acknowledged on of environmental sustainability aspects at the various an ever-increasing scale, pointing to the need to ad- levels of the decision-making processes”. dress environmental sustainability issues if a country wants to consolidate its economic strength (Dasgupta Sustainability assessment et al, 2006; Swanson and Lundethors, 2003). Logically some authors and organisations While making use of existing policy frameworks is consider Poverty Reduction Strategies to be promis- arguably the best way to integrate environmental ing frameworks to integrate and realise national sustainability into strategic decision-making, the sustainable development strategies (Dalal-Clayton majority of the current PRSPs have failed to inte- and Bass, 2002; UN ESA, 2005). These strategies grate it adequately. International organisations, such aim “to ensure socially responsible economic devel- as the World Bank (Bojö and Reddy, 2002; 2003; opment while protecting the resource base and the Bojö et al, 2004), the World Wide Fund for Nature environment for the benefit of future generations” (Tharakan and McDonald, 2004), the World Re- (OECD, 2001). The iterative nature of PRSP draft- sources Institute (2005) and the United Nations De- ing, as reflected in the second and third generation velopment Programme (UNDP, 2004), have PRSPs, is suited to a national sustainable develop- recognised that, to date, PRSPs have not sufficiently ment strategy as expressed by Swanson et al (2004): addressed environmental sustainability issues. Given “moving towards operating an adaptive system that the socio-economic emphasis of PRSPs, the lack of can continuously improve”. Furthermore, PRSPs are integration of environmental issues hampers the supposed to be based on a multi-dimensional analy- achievement of sustainable development. sis of the causes of poverty. The existing PRSP-assessment approaches need to A PRSP thus appears as an ‘entry point’ through be completed with a general assessment of the envi- which environmental sustainability principles can be ronmental sustainability of PRSPs. Even if the study introduced at a strategic level in development policy focuses on the ecological aspects of the poverty– (OECD/DAC, 2006). The underlying idea is that the environment linkages, other aspects, such as the mainstreaming of environmental sustainability prin- organisation of the drafting process, the identification ciples in comprehensive frameworks such as PRSPs of linkages and trade-offs between different policy triggers the introduction of these principles at other priorities and the assessment of institutional aspects decision-making levels, such as plans, programmes of sustainable development, are also considered. and projects. Policy-supporting instruments such as sustain- Efforts towards a ‘greener’ development policy ability assessment methodologies contribute to are particularly pertinent in these times of growing integrating sustainability principles in the policy environmental concerns. Southern countries can process (Scholten and Post, 1999). If no sustainability substantially improve their policies and do not need assessment is performed, there is a risk of missing the potential negative effects of development policies, plans and programmes. Moreover, sustainability as- sessments make it possible to identify sustainable de- velopment opportunities and to strengthen a general The mainstreaming of environmental sustainability-based approach in decision-making. sustainability principles in The holistic approach of sustainability assessment tools is suited to the comprehensiveness of macro- comprehensive frameworks such as level strategies such as Poverty Reduction Strat- Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers egies. Classic project-based environmental impact triggers the introduction of these assessment (EIA) is not suited to the strategic PRSP level and often fails to incorporate the different principles at other decision-making aspects of sustainable development. Flexible meth- levels, such as plans, programmes and odologies with a broader scope, such as strategic projects environmental assessment (SEA), integrated assess- ment (IA) and the various interpretations of sustain- ability assessment, can fulfil an important function Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal December 2007 249
  4. 4. Sustainability assessment of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers at higher decision-making levels (Alshuwaikhat, • the commitment to sustainable development (eight 2005; Kjorven and Lindhjem, 2002). The Good Prac- questions); tice Guidance on Applying Strategic Environmental • the dependence on the natural resources (six Assessment (SEA) in Development Cooperation of questions); the OECD/DAC (2006) is an interesting practical • the access to services and natural resources (eight example. questions); To develop a practical sustainability assessment • the empowerment and participation dimensions methodology adapted to PRSPs, a checklist for sus- (11 questions); tainability assessment was developed. The tool can • the pressures on the environment and natural be used to identify sustainability strengths and resources (17 questions); weaknesses as such or within the framework of a • the vulnerability of the poor (12 questions); larger, fully elaborated assessment process. The • the economic incentive mechanisms for sustain- checklist assesses a wide range of subjects in the ability (four questions); PRSP, from the dependence on natural resources, • the policy response (nine questions); empowerment and incentive mechanisms, to the • the process of PRSP development (ten questions); vulnerability of the poor. It not only considers the content of the PRSP, but also evaluates some aspects Each question is scored on a 0–2 scale, where 0 of the preparation process and the link between the stands for ‘no mention of the issue’; 1, ‘the issue is proposed policy measures and the planned imple- mentioned but not elaborated’; 2, ‘the issue is elabo- mentation activities. rated’. The full checklist can be found in Annex 1. The method results in a diverse and full interpre- tation of sustainable development in the PRSP pro- PRSPs assessed cess, taking into account both content and process characteristics. To include the relevant aspects of The checklist has been applied to the PRSPs of 12 sustainable development, without hampering its developing countries listed in Table 1 (Belgian practical use, the list consists of 85 questions grouped into nine separate categories. These catego- Table 1. Overview of the assessed PRSPs ries are defined based on a review of the literature on poverty–environment linkages and sustainable de- Country Title of the PRSP Publication velopment (Brocklesby and Hinshelwood, 2001; year DFID et al, 2002; DFID, 2004; Shyamsundar, 2002; Bojö et al, 2004; Tharakan and McDonald, 2004; Benin Benin Poverty Reduction 2002 Poulsen, 2006). Strategy Paper 2003-2005 In short, the conceptual framework on which the Bolivia Estrategìa Boliviana de 2001 Reduccion de la Pobreza checklist is based can be presented as follows. The environment provides ecosystem services that are Burundi Interim Strategic Framework 2003 for accelerating Economic then used by the poor to carry out socio-economic ac- Growth and Reducing tivities. This creates a dependence relationship that is Poverty (interim PRSP) being influenced by the degree of empowerment and Congo (Democratic Interim Poverty Reduction 2002 participation of the poor. The socio-economic activi- Republic) Strategy Paper ties exert pressure on the environment. This can then Mali Cadre Stratégique de Lutte 2002 lead to increased vulnerability for the poor. This vul- contre la Pauvreté nerability relationship is influenced in its turn by the Mozambique Action Plan for the Reduction 2001 access that the poor have to resources, and by the so- of Absolute Poverty (2001- 2005) (PARPA): Strategy cietal and policy responses to (environmental) pres- Document for the Reduction sures. The PRSP preparation process influences the of Poverty and the Promotion way in which these sustainability aspects are taken of Economic Growth. into account. Niger Full Poverty Reduction 2002 This paper applies the checklist to the PRSPs of Strategy 12 developing countries (mainly in sub-Saharan Af- Rwanda Poverty Reduction Strategy 2002 Paper rica) and explores how the results can be used for the improvement of policy documents. Senegal Document de Stratégie de 2002 Réduction de la Pauvreté Tanzania (1) Poverty Reduction Strategy 2000 Paper Methodology Tanzania (2) National Strategy for Growth 2005 and Reduction of Poverty Issues addressed Uganda Poverty Eradication Action 2005 Plan Based on the poverty–environment framework, the Vietnam Comprehensive Poverty and 2003 85 questions of the sustainability assessment check- Growth Strategy list are grouped into nine separate categories: 250 Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal December 2007
  5. 5. Sustainability assessment of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers partner countries). Apart from Vietnam and Bolivia, ‘first generation’ and ‘second generation’ PRSPs all the countries are in sub-Saharan Africa. The (such as in Tanzania). PRSPs were accessed through the website of the In- ternational Monetary Fund (www.imf.org), as they General findings of the sustainability assessment were accessible in January 2007. Table 1 provides an overview of the titles and publication years of the Despite the significant differences among countries, assessed PRSPs. Many countries ‘customised’ the some general observations can be made from the title of their PRSP to reflect country ownership. In country-specific qualitative results of the sustainabil- this paper, the acronym PRSP will be used as a ge- ity check. neric term. Two versions of the Tanzanian PRSP Table 3 shows to what extent the key sustainabil- were evaluated, in order to assess evolution in PRSP ity aspects are addressed in the assessed PRSPs, as quality within a country. they are reflected by the analysed categories. To ob- tain a general appreciation of the consideration of Use of the checklist the sustainability aspects, the average score of the assessed PRSPs in the different categories was cal- Full and interim PRSPs were assessed using the culated and compared to the maximum possible checklist. score per category. The variability between PRSPs The application of the sustainability assessment (as reflected by the minimum and maximum scores) checklist allows us to identify the main sustainability nonetheless remains significant. opportunities and risks of a PRSP, as well as to Table 3 shows that empowerment, participation characterise aspects of the PRSP preparation pro- and the access dimensions of poverty are well con- cess. This facilitates targeted advice and quality sidered in most PRSPs. Most countries also show a improvements. The application of a sustainability commitment towards sustainable development. The assessment is particularly encouraged in the PRSP dependence of the poor on the natural resources and revision process to improve the quality of next gen- the vulnerability issues are considered in a very eration PRSPs. variable way, as shown by the variation in country scores for this parameter. Countries obtain poor scores on policy response. The economic incentive Results mechanisms for sustainability are barely considered, despite their potential to steer production and con- Comparison between and within countries sumption towards sustainability. Aspects relating to the sustainability of the PRSP development process Table 2 shows the total scores and the ranking of obtain moderate scores. PRSPs according to the sustainability assessment. While Table 3 provides a semi-quantitative indi- Besides the obvious quality variability of the PRSPs, cation following the categories of the sustainability Table 2 shows that recently drafted PRSPs tend to obtain higher scores; interim PRSPs have lower Table 3. Consideration of selected key sustainability issues scores; and clear improvements are possible between in the analysed PRSPs Table 2. Scores and ranking of the assessed PRSPs Key sustainability issue Consideration Variation in PRSPs (minimum– (average score maximum score PRSP Score Rank per category in in %) publication (max=170) %) Tanzania 2 2005 100 1 Commitment towards 54 31–69 Uganda 2005 97 2 sustainable development Rwanda 2002 92 3 Dependence on the natural 41 8–83 resources Mozambique 2001 89 4 Access to services and 70 50–87 Niger 2002 84 5 natural resources Bolivia 2001 83 6 Empowerment and 72 41–96 participation Mali 2002 83 6 Pressures on the environment 40 15–59 Senegal 2002 82 7 and on the natural resources Vietnam 2003 81 8 Vulnerability of the poor 40 8–71 Benin 2002 80 9 Economic incentive 17 0–38 Burundi* 2003 61 10 mechanisms for sustainability DR Congo* 2002 43 11 Policy Response 24 0–55 Tanzania 1 2000 40 12 Process of PRSP 47 33–61 development Note: * For these countries, the assessed PRSP was interim Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal December 2007 251
  6. 6. Sustainability assessment of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers Empowerment and participation Sustainable development is mentioned Participatory natural resources management, often in most PRSPs, but a clear definition linked to community development initiatives, is mentioned in most PRSPs. There is a general com- of the concept and its implementation mitment to decentralisation and participation in de- is often lacking: sustainable cision-making. Gender issues, minorities, education environmental management is as a and job opportunities are well elaborated. However, human rights, corruption, local cultural values, rule recognised as a cross-cutting democratisation and the reduction of social polarisa- issue, but this is not always visible in tion receive much less and varying attention in the policy matrix PRSPs. Pressures on the environment and natural resources The fundamental relationship between uncontrolled assessment checklist, the next section discusses demographic pressure and environmental degrada- the qualitative appreciation of the consideration of tion is considered in some PRSPs, as is the gradual selected aspects within these categories. The most depletion of the natural resources stocks. ‘Classic’ striking sustainability aspects are discussed by environmental issues are given very different levels category. of attention amongst different PRSPs. Land use, de- forestation, the management of water resources and Commitment towards sustainable development energy issues are generally well treated. While air pollution, the negative impacts of agricultural inten- Sustainable development is mentioned in the major- sification, biodiversity, waste management, sustain- ity of the PRSPs, but a clear definition of the con- able transportation, the sustainability impacts of cept and its implementation is often lacking. large infrastructural projects, climate change and Sustainable environmental management is as a rule other global environmental issues are not, or are recognised as a cross-cutting issue, but this is not insufficiently, mentioned. We should consider these always visible in the policy matrix where concrete observations with caution, as PRSPs can vary sig- measures are listed. References to multilateral (envi- nificantly in quality and thoroughness. ronmental) agreements and to the Millennium Development Goals vary widely from one country to Vulnerability of the poor another. The vulnerability of the poor to natural disasters and Dependence on the natural resources the housing conditions of the poor are considered in most PRSPs, as are social security issues. The link The dependence of the poor on natural resources between environmental quality and human health is and sound environmental management is insuffi- recognised in the majority of PRSPs, but is seldom ciently emphasised, despite being a fundamental as- elaborated. An integrated approach to HIV/AIDS is pect of the poverty–environment nexus. Some present in a number of PRSPs. The social and eco- particular aspects, such as the excessive share of logical impacts of rural exodus, urban sprawl, liber- fuel-wood for energy supply, are considered in a alisation and globalisation are not considered, number of PRSPs. The ecosystem services approach despite their growing importance. still needs to be introduced in many PRSPs, even if the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment has contrib- Economic incentive mechanisms for sustainability uted to the dissemination of its key principles (Reid, 2006). The potential of economic incentive mechanisms to stimulate sustainable production and consumption Access to services and natural resources patterns is barely considered in the vast majority of PRSPs. Issues of property rights, land reform and institu- tional strengthening of land ownership security are Policy response usually considered adequately, while the underlying struggle for control over the (natural) resources Virtually all PRSPs lack a clear and consequent between the powerful and the poor is not considered. vision on conflicting priorities and the possible The access to water and sanitation facilities, finan- trade-offs that may arise to achieve balanced, sus- cial services and infrastructure (markets, roads) is tainable development. considered. Gender-related access issues and prob- The potential of environmental and natural resource lems relating to access to reliable energy sources are accounting mechanisms is almost never recognised unequally treated. even though PRSPs are in essence macro-economic 252 Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal December 2007
  7. 7. Sustainability assessment of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers documents. Clear expenditure programmes for envi- Even if sustainability is mentioned in the vast ronment-related policy measures are lacking, even if majority of the assessed PRSPs, there is no clear institutional features in the environmental field (re- strategy for action on sustainable development. Gen- sponsible ministries and agencies) are sometimes erally speaking, the dependence of the poor on the considered. ecosystem services is not elaborated. The access to services is considered, but PRSPs do not usually Process of PRSP development present radical reforms that might trigger important pro-poor social change. Vulnerability issues are The process by which PRSPs are developed usually treated, but the underlying causes of the problems pays sufficient attention to participation from (repre- are rarely elaborated. sentatives of) the poor, at least on paper. Sustainable There is a lack of acknowledgment of the inter- development and environmental assessment are not relations between the various aspects of development. adequately considered in the monitoring and evalua- This leads to incomplete coverage of relevant tion part of the PRSPs. A clear understanding of sustainability issues, lack of policy coherence and, trade-offs and conflicting priorities is lacking in ultimately, unsustainable development. most PRSPs. The preparation processes tend to lack The analysed literature supports the findings of a comprehensive view on the institutions needed to this research work. The relative ranking of the as- support sustainable development in the long run. sessed PRSPs is comparable, as shown in Table 4. Only the results of the assessment methods of Bojö et al (2004) and Eberlei (2004) are presented, as the Discussion sample of Tharakan and McDonald (2004) is con- sidered too small to justify inclusion in the table. Recent studies (Bojö and Reddy, 2003; Bojö et al, This paper emphasises the inter-linkages and a 2004; Eberlei, 2004; Tharakan and McDonald, 2004) multi-dimensional approach to sustainable develop- have assessed the inclusion of environmental issues in ment and has a broader scope than the other assess- PRSPs. These studies always have a different focus ment methods. Much information can be gathered and use a different methodology. Nevertheless, it is using one practical checklist. The similar relative interesting to compare their general findings, as the ranking supports the idea that the integration of integration of ‘strictly’ environmental issues in a environmental issues in macro-economic documents, macro-economic document is often an indication of a such as PRSPs, often goes hand-in-hand with the balanced view on development. integration of aspects reflecting a broader interpreta- According to the above-mentioned studies, the tion of sustainable development. following issues are generally considered in PRSPs: water availability; sanitation; vulnerability to natural Improving integration of sustainability in PRSPs disasters; institutional capacity; property rights; and the link between environmental quality and health. The assessment methodology described in this The access to basic social services and natural re- paper can be used to obtain an overview of the sources is generally treated, but often in an unequal way. Table 4. Relative ranking of the PRSPs according to different On the other hand, indoor air pollution, biodiver- assessment methods sity, alternative energy sources, gender–environment issues, climate change, urban environmental qual- This paper Bojö et al Eberlei ity, the impact of macro-economic policy on the (2004) (2004) environment, globalisation and trade are usually not, or only scantily, treated in PRSPs. The policy Benin 9 7 na measures do not provide details on environment- Bolivia 6 2 1 related expenditure. Most PRSPs do not mention Burundi* 10 9 na the Millennium Development Goals. Few of them DR Congo* 11 11 na present time-bound, quantified targets or indicators Mali 6 4 4 concerning environmental sustainability. Mozambique 4 1 2 The findings of this research and the literature in- dicate a general lack, or incompleteness, of the Niger 5 8 3 analysis of poverty–environment linkages and of the Rwanda 3 5 4 integration of environmental and/or sustainability is- Senegal 7 6 5 sues. The narrowly interpreted macro-economic Tanzania 2000 12 10 6 character of PRSPs seems to hamper the effective Tanzania 2005 1 na na integration of principles of sustainable development Uganda 2 na na in the strategies. There is no analysis of possibly conflicting priorities between socio-economic and Vietnam 8 3 4 environmental objectives and argumentation on Notes: na = not available trade-offs is lacking. * For these countries, the assessed PRSP was interim Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal December 2007 253
  8. 8. Sustainability assessment of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers sustainability strengths and weaknesses of a PRSP. President’s Office ran an extensive programme to This is especially useful in the preparation process strengthen the integration of poverty–environment of successive versions of the PRSP. Sustainability links in the PRSP (URT, 2004). assessments allow us to take the shortcomings of These two countries, together with Ghana and earlier experiences into account. This applies par- Benin, are currently home to the best examples of ticularly to an iterative process providing multiple successful PRSP ‘greening’ processes. This means possibilities for feedback. A sustainability assess- that aspects of environmentally sustainable devel- ment is also useful when drafting Country Strategy opment have been integrated in second generation Papers or Co-operation Agreements between donor PRSPs. Successful greening processes require a and recipient country. It allows the partner country strong commitment from the authorities and need to to be advised on the integration of sustainable de- be based on a sense of broad national ownership. As velopment in their PRSP and contributes to the these are also key preconditions for a successful adoption of sustainable development as a core prin- PRSP approach as a whole, there is no reason to as- ciple of international development co-operation. sume that PRSP greening cannot be replicated in The scoring method is a practical way to present other countries. information in clearly interpretable figures. Any as- The implementation of the (‘greened’) PRSP sessment involves subjective judgments but, in this measures requires an emphasis on the institutional application, the subjectivity is transparent and con- organisation at decentralised level. Sustainability sistent across countries. Small score differences be- assessments should not be confined to high-level tween countries are not considered important. This policy processes, as the ‘trickling down’ of the sus- quantitative presentation of the sustainability as- tainability concept to the local level is not always sessment is a complement to the country-specific guaranteed. During the strategic environmental qualitative information that allows us to identify assessment (which can be considered as a form of the key sustainability challenges and opportunities. sustainability assessment (Dalal-Clayton and Sadler, The evolution between subsequent versions of 2005)) of the Ghana PRSP, the national PRSP was PRSPs, and between interim PRSPs and full PRSPs assessed simultaneously with programmes and ini- can be monitored. In addition, the scores of different tiatives at decentralised district level in a participa- countries can be compared. tory process (Allotey and Gyan-Baffour, 2004). Integrating sustainable development in Poverty The institutional capacity of a country to cope Reduction Strategies is not a straightforward task. A with unpredictable and potentially large-scale socie- focus on the institutions supporting an effective re- tal change is especially important in order to realise alisation of sustainable development is essential to sustainable development. The sustainability assess- influence the policy process and to cope with the ment methodology presented in this paper ideally possible sustainability impacts of the proposed needs to be completed by a thorough institutional PRSP measures. The co-ordination and coherence assessment to anchor sustainable development in the between the different government services is of key decision-making process. importance for the long-term integration of the cross-cutting concept of sustainable development. Establishing interministerial or interdepartmental Conclusion working groups can be useful to anchor sustainable development in the institutional landscape. Uganda, Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers have become for instance, has benefited from the substantial in- guiding documents for partner country policy and fluence of the Environment and Natural Resources donor interventions alike. It is therefore particularly Working Group in the PRSP revision process important to integrate sustainability principles ade- (Mugyenyi et al, 2005). In Tanzania, the Vice quately in these comprehensive frameworks for de- velopment. Sustainable development can only be implemented if high-level policy papers show a clear commitment to its achievement. The developed sustainability assessment checklist Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana and Benin, covers various aspects related to the contents and to have integrated aspects of the drafting process of the PRSP. The analysed PRSPs were subject to a sustainability assessment environmentally sustainable using a checklist with 85 questions spread over nine development in second generation categories. The scoring of the PRSPs allows the sus- PRSPs: successful greening processes tainability strengths and weaknesses to be identified country by country in order to come up with propo- require a strong commitment from the sals for improvement in integrating sustainability in authorities and need to be based on a the contents and the preparation process of a PRSP. sense of broad national ownership The relative ranking of the assessed PRSPs high- lighted significant differences in quality among countries and between the successive versions of 254 Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal December 2007
  9. 9. Sustainability assessment of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers national PRSPs. The ranking of the PRSPs is in line sectoral policy-makers and lower-level decision- with the results of previous evaluation studies, while makers to actually fulfil their own duties towards the comprehensiveness and the broad sustainability environmental sustainability. However, successfully focus of this work makes it possible to target a wider linking the integration of environmental sustainabil- range of sustainability challenges. ity at the policy level to the operational level Donors should not limit themselves to the use of requires attention to the institutional framework sustainability assessments in order to ‘green’ devel- supporting these actions. opment policy. The policy dialogue between donor Sustainability assessments will only really contrib- and recipient countries provides many opportunities ute to sustainable development if they are part of a to foster a shift towards environmentally sustainable larger institutionally supported and politically backed development, and a well thought out portfolio of aid process, as has happened in recent years in Tanzania. modalities can contribute significantly to environ- This points to the importance of greening the mental integration in development co-operation ‘right’ policy process. Indeed, the actual weight ac- interventions. corded to the PRSP differs strongly from one Only applying a sustainability assessment on a country to another. Sustainability assessment meth- PRSP will not automatically result in better policy. odologies can also be used for other strategies. This Nevertheless, it can be a handy tool to facilitate the might require modifications to the actual assessment environmental integration process. The integration method, but the general trends and issues to be of environmental sustainability in strategic policy- assessed in order to obtain an idea of the environ- documents is of key importance as it might trigger mental sustainability quality will most probably be the ‘trickling down’ of these principles to the decen- similar. The proposed methodology can therefore be tralised policy levels, where the implementation of considered both as a practical tool for assessing the strategic measures needs to happen ultimately. PRSPs and as a source of inspiration for the integra- Clearly defined strategic priorities, ideally in a tion of environmental sustainability in other major ‘greened’ PRSP, for instance, will give guidance to policy documents. Annex 1. Sustainability assessment checklist to be applied on Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers Issue Score Comment 1. Commitment to sustainable development 1.1 Does the PRSP explicitly mention sustainable development? 1.2 Does the PRSP consider the environment/sustainable development as strategic objectives? 1.3 Does the PRSP recognise environmentally sustainable development as a horizontal, cross-cutting issue? 1.4 Does the PRSP refer to international commitments in the field of sustainable development and poverty reduction? (eg UN Conferences in Rio and Johannesburg, Agenda 21, Millennium Development Goals, Multilateral Environmental Agreements)? 1.5 Does the PRSP provide a full definition of poverty? Is there sufficient consideration of the - Economic - Social - Ecological dimension of poverty? 2. Dependence on the natural resources 2.1 Does the PRSP consider the ecosystems’ supporting and buffering role (eg soil formation, primary production, prevention of natural disasters and various other ‘ecosystem services’)? 2.2 Does the PRSP consider the link between the degradation of the natural resources and the excessive dependence from these resources? 2.3 Does the PRSP present data concerning the importance of natural resources in the income of the poor? 2.4 Does the PRSP consider the proportion of firewood in the energy supply of the poor? Does the PRSP present possible solutions? 2.5 Does the PRSP consider the importance of the environment and the natural resources as socio-economical security net for the poor? 2.6 Does the PRSP consider the diversification of the economy to reduce the dependence on the primary sector? 3. Access to services and to natural resources 3.1 Does the PRSP address the political component of the struggle for the control of the natural resources? In other words, does the PRSP recognise the importance of ‘power and influence’ in the management of natural resources? 3.2 Does the PRSP consider property rights, the access and the management of land and natural resources? (continued) Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal December 2007 255
  10. 10. Sustainability assessment of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers Annex 1 (continued) Issue Score Comment 3.3 Does the PRSP consider the difficulties surrounding the access to drinking water and to adequate sanitation? 3.4 Does the PRSP consider the access to basic health services for every citizen (including marginalised populations and/or regions)? 3.5 Does the PRSP consider the access to supporting economic infrastructure (roads, agricultural transformation infrastructure, agricultural inputs, markets)? 3.6 Does the PRSP consider the access to energy sources and electricity? 3.7 Does the PRSP consider the gender component of the access to natural resources (eg time needed and distance travelled by women to the nearest water source)? 3.8 Does the PRSP consider the access to financial services for the poor? Is micro- financing considered? 4. Empowerment and participation 4.1 Does the PRSP consider decentralisation and participation at the local level? 4.2 Does the PRSP consider long-term participation at the policy level? Is there a commitment to strengthening democracy? 4.3 Does the PRSP consider the participatory management of natural resources (eg community-based natural resources management)? 4.4 Does the PRSP address inequality reduction and social polarisation? 4.5 Does the PRSP consider the gender dimension of development? 4.6 Does the PRSP consider the empowerment of minorities (indigenous people, children, elderly people, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities)? 4.7 Does the PRSP consider the educational possibilities at different levels for various layers of the population (eg elimination of illiteracy, technical and vocational training, ICT, sustainability)? 4.8 Does the PRSP consider job creation and the reduction of unemployment (eg via the support of sectors providing work for the poor and the vulnerable)? 4.9 Does the PRSP consider the fight against corruption (and the link between corruption and the exploitation of the poor)? 4.10 Does the PRSP consider human rights and freedom of speech? 4.11 Does the PRSP consider cultural diversity and local cultural identities? 5. Incentive mechanisms 5.1 Does the PRSP recognise the link between economic incentives and environmental quality? 5.2 Does the PRSP consider the effects of tariffs and subsidies, taxation, trade, market access, price stability etc on the sustainability of production and consumption patterns? 5.3 Does the PRSP consider the influence of commodity price fluctuations on the socio-economic situation of the poor? 5.4 Does the government promote sustainable production and consumption patterns in the PRSP? 6. Pressure on the environment and natural resources 6.1 Does the PRSP consider the influence of the increasing demographic pressure on the state of the environment? 6.2 Does the PRSP consider the gradual depletion of the natural resources? Does the PRSP mention over-fishing and unsustainable exploitation patterns? 6.3 Does the PRSP consider land use and agriculture? Does the PRSP, for instance, mention erosion, over-grazing and desertification? 6.4 Does the PRSP consider the possible negative effects of agricultural intensification? In particular, are the following aspects considered: - habitat degradation; - pollution by phyto-sanitary products (health effects, surface water pollution); - balance between the production of cash crops and food crops; 6.5 Does the PRSP consider forests, deforestation and the increasing human encroachment on natural habitats? 6.6 Does the PRSP consider water-related issues such as irrigation, access to water and water quality? 6.7 Does the PRSP consider air pollution and/or climate change and related issues (greenhouse gases, dust etc)? 6.8 Does the PRSP consider biodiversity and species loss? 6.9 Does the PRSP recognise the role of biodiversity as a sustainable and innovative source of income (medicine, eco-tourism etc)? 6.10 Does the PRSP consider the energy problems, energy efficiency or alternative energy sources? Does the PRSP present sustainable solutions? 6.11 Does the PRSP consider sustainable waste management? 6.12 Does the PRSP consider sustainable solutions for mobility and transportation? 6.13 Does the PRSP consider the possible social, ecological and cultural impact of large-scale investments in infrastructure and industrial development (eg in the transport sector, in the tourism sector, in extractive industries)? 6.14 Does the PRSP consider negative environmental sustainability effects caused by transboundary and global environmental problems? (continued) 256 Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal December 2007
  11. 11. Sustainability assessment of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers Annex 1 (continued) Issue Score Comment 7. Vulnerability of the poor 7.1 Does the PRSP recognise the link between environment and health? In particular, are the following links considered: - The link between respiratory tract infections and air pollution? - The link between internal infections and water quality and the access to sanitation? - The link between vector-borne diseases such as malaria and the living environment? 7.2 Does the PRSP present a integrated approach to HIV /AIDS, taking into consideration the prevention, care and social inclusion of the patients? 7.3 Does the PRSP consider the economic implications of HIV/AIDS? 7.4 Does the PRSP consider the vulnerability of the population for social, economic and health-related effects caused by extreme environmental degradation and natural disasters (droughts, floods, infertile soils, storms, etc)? 7.5 Does the PRSP address the housing problems of the poor (eg slums)? 7.6 Does the PRSP consider the social effects of urbanisation and rural-urban migration? 7.7 Does the PRSP consider the social and ecological side effects of economic liberalisation and globalisation? Are the working conditions of the poor taken into account? 7.8 Does the PRSP consider the organisation of a social security system for the poor? 8. Response 8.1 Does the PRSP consider potentially conflicting policy priorities? Are the trade- offs duly analysed? 8.2 Does the PRSP present a comprehensive analysis of the possibilities for sustainable management of the environment and natural resources? 8.3 Does the PRSP consider the economic valuation of ecosystems? Does the PRSP recognise the potential of ‘green accounting’? 8.4 Does the PRSP translate the attention given to environmental issues in budgeted policy measures? Do the taxation and public expenditure reflect attention to the environment and natural resources? 8.5 Does the PRSP consider the institutional aspects of sustainable development? Does the PRSP consider the legislation and organisational structure concerning environmental management? 8.6 Does the PRSP propose sustainable investments in natural capital such as: - Sustainable land management and management of land and water resources; - Protection of natural areas; - Improvement of the air quality; 8.7 Does the PRSP present pro-poor and environmentally sound fiscal reforms? 8.8 Does the PRSP consider technology transfer and the improvement of (access to) adapted technology for sustainable environmental management? 9. Process: developing the PRSP 9.1 Does the PRSP consider participation, partnership and collaboration across the traditional boundaries of society? Are the poor considered full participants of the PRS process? 9.2 Has there been input from : - national or foreign environmental experts? - local NGOs? - the private sector? - local governments? - the national Parliament? 9.3 Does the PRS process offer possibilities for alternatives, reversibility and caution? 9.4 Does the PRSP consider sustainable development and the environment in monitoring and evaluation? Is (environmental) impact assessment mentioned? 9.5 Does the PRSP consider the financial sustainability? Is there a PRSP-linked Medium Term Expenditure Framework? References Bojö, J and R C Reddy 2002. Mainstreaming environment in pov- erty reduction strategies. Environment Strategy Note no 4, August 2002. Washington DC: World Bank. Allotey, J A and G Gyan-Baffour 2004. Report of the strategic en- Bojö, J and R C Reddy 2003. Status and evolution of environ- vironmental assessment of the Ghana Poverty Reduction mental priorities in the PRS. Washington DC: The World Bank Strategy. Ghana Enviromental Protection Agency (EPA) and Environment Department. the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC). Bojö, J, K Green, S Kishore, S Pilapitiya and R C Reddy2004. Alshuwaikhat, H M 2005. Strategic environmental assessment can Environment in poverty reduction strategies and poverty re- help solve impact assessment failures in developing countries. duction support credits. World Bank Environment Department Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 25, 307–317. Paper no 102. Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal December 2007 257
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