In 2005 it was six years since the Enhanced Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC2) had imposed new donor conditionalities and five years since the first generation of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) had been prepared in response.
This was a timely point at which to pose the question – what have we learned from this experiment? Commissioned by Train4Dev, a joint donor training network, Itad were contracted with the Overseas Development Institute to develop a learning programme to be rolled out initially through four regional workshops, taking as their departure point the PRSP experience of the previous five years and focusing on practical steps that might be taken to improve outcomes in future.
We prepared an action-oriented workshop design, bringing together representatives from donors, agencies, governments, the private sector and civil society to explore what can donors do better against five key issues:
- How better to understand and acknowledge the status and characteristics of the poverty reduction strategy (PRS) in a particular country setting
- How better to understand and acknowledge the politics of the PRS
- How to support strengthened PRS linkages to national decision-making, planning and budgeting
- How to support strengthened monitoring arrangements
- How better to harmonise and align donor actions
Country teams identified practical steps to move forward the PRS process in their own country. The intention was that these measures should be informed by the new learning the course brought so as to address underlying problems rather than mere symptoms. In addition, these actions plans would benefit from the collective experience of the region, as presented in specific case studies and in the comments and observations made by all course participants.
At a stock-taking workshop in Berlin in 2008, the joint staff training programme was acknowledged by Train4Dev as one of its most notable successes to-date. After the first four regional workshops, a further nine regional and national workshops had been commissioned across Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe and the feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive.Image © Chris_Barnett_Workshop