Broad-based domestic ownership is now considered a necessary condition for development. Reflecting this thinking, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have moved away from Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) that were imposed on countries. As part of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, countries now produce Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) that are to be the basis for development. These documents are to be drafted by governments in consultation with government structures, civil society and other stakeholders. Do PRSPs, however, facilitate domestic ownership or do they perpetuate foreign control? Tackling this issue requires questioning what ownership means. Ownership is most meaningful when it involves participation by those affected and reflects their policy choices. With respect to PRSPs, there are at least two types of ownership issues. First there is the question of ownership between the World Bank and IMF on one side and the HIPC countries on the other. This is foreign versus domestic ownership. The second layer involves the nature of domestic ownership itself, which can be seen to be either narrow, reflecting only the views of elites, or broad, reflecting the views of a large segment of society. To gain a greater understanding of the ownership of PRSPs, this paper analyses their content against the World Bank's A Sourcebook for Poverty Reduction Strategies. In this study the Sourcebook was compared to the first full or interim PRSPs from eight countries (Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia) that vary in terms of fragility and their macroeconomic indicators. With respect to participation, there were some areas of divergence between the Sourcebook and the PRSPs. This suggests that there is some degree of domestic ownership. Ironically, the World Bank Sourcebook recommends more participation than was reported in the PRSPs. In terms of policy choices, while there are differences between countries, the PRSPs generally prioritised economic growth and shared similar macroeconomic policies to those recommended by the Sourcebook. However there are other issues, such as security and conflict, where there are substantial differences between the PRSPs and the Sourcebook. The most fragile countries and those that had recently experienced conflict gave the most attention to conflict-based security.
Occasional Paper No. 5, London, UK; Crisis States Research Centre, 69 pp.