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News Brief No. 02/124
December 16, 2002
International Monetary Fund
700 19th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20431 USA

CIS-7 Poverty Reduction Strategy Forum Sees New Opportunity to Reduce Poverty

The third Forum on Poverty Reduction Strategies for CIS-7 countries—Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan—was held in Almaty, Kazakhstan during December 11-13, 2002.

The Forum provided a well-received opportunity to share experiences in designing and implementing poverty reduction strategies. Most of the countries are close to finalizing, or have already finalized their strategies. Therefore the Forum allowed participants—especially the teams responsible for Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs)—to focus on the challenges that lie ahead as they begin to implement these strategies.

An opportunity to achieve a significant reduction in poverty.

The economies of all the CIS-7 countries are growing, and substantial progress has been made in designing poverty reduction strategies. An opportunity therefore exists to promote equitable growth strategies—the topic of much discussion during the forum.

Growth was seen as a necessary but not sufficient condition for poverty reduction. Growth needs to benefit all segments of the population. Maintaining a stable macroeconomic situation is essential. And it needs to be supplemented with steps to improve governance and fight corruption; and to promote rural development and a sound business environment.

These policies need to be complemented by measures to promote social inclusion, human development, and social protection. Policies should support the groups that are most vulnerable—children and youth, the disabled, women, internally displaced persons, and migrant workers. Careful analysis is needed to identify the poor and to make sure their specific needs are met.

Participants stressed that the PRSP needs to become part of the normal business of government. This implies:

  • Integrating poverty reduction strategies fully with decision making at the central and subnational levels of government;

  • Ensuring that policies are shaped through open and participatory processes that allow the poverty reduction strategies to become credible instruments of policy.

  • Improving the management of public resources, especially through better budget management;

  • Taking better account of the social impact of economic decision making, especially on the poor;

  • Drawing lessons from policy implementation and making necessary adjustments, based on continuous monitoring and evaluation;

  • Setting clear long-term poverty reduction targets linked to the Millennium Development Goals.

Poverty Reduction strategies at a crossroads

Participants at the conference agreed that the PRSP process in the CIS-7 countries is at a crossroads. Its future success depends on:

  • Broad-based, strong ownership of the strategies by all groups in society;

  • Continued capacity building in governments, parliaments, and civil society;

  • More and better quality data to support the design of good policy and effective monitoring;

  • Clear priorities in national policy-making recognizing that resources are constrained.

The active involvement of different actors is essential. Governments, Parliaments, and local communities all have distinctive contributions to make. Civil society organizations, professional associations and the media have a critical role in promoting open dialogue and consultation.

International cooperation is key to the success of the poverty reduction strategies. The assistance programs of donors should be consistent with the strategies, allowing the PRSPs eventually to become a primary instrument for coordinating donor support. Participating countries also noted the great value of sharing experiences among their national PRSP teams, through events such as the Forum, as a vital part of the learning process.

The Forum was organized by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations Development Program, and received financial support from the Government of Switzerland. Representatives of the donor community also included the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Union, the International Labor Organization, the Islamic Development Bank, France, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

The First and Second Forums on Poverty Reduction Strategies were held respectively in Moscow in October 2000 and Budapest in November 2001.




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