Participation in the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) for Pakistan



Interim Activity Report

September, 2005




Syed Mohammad Ali

Promoting Openness in Muslim Societies Working Group

International Policy Fellow, OSI-Budapest


Interim Activity Report


Probing the proposed issue of participation within the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) of Pakistan during the first part of the fellowship year (April to September, 2005) has implied undertaking several different types of activities. Each of the following types of activities has furthered my research objectives of articulating the potential and real value of participation in the formulation of Pakistan’s PRSP.


1. For examining the specific experience of participation in the PRSP process in Pakistan, viewpoints presented by various stakeholders within the country were to be solicited in the form of informal and open-ended interviews. Obtaining information from relevant stakeholders, the planned to be the point of departure within the proposed research proposal, has been taking according to the research plan. I have established contact with all of the mentioned stakeholders identified in my project proposal, including Government of Pakistan, World Bank and civil society representatives (the list of personnel interviewed for the IPF research is attached as Annex I). Moreover, based on preliminary contact with senior personnel at the World Bank headquarters, I was invited to visit Washington where I not only met with very senior officials in the Bank but also established contact with relevant advocacy groups like ActionAid and Bank Information Centre, and with a producer at Voice of America’s Urdu service, who subsequently agreed to arrange radio roundtable discussions on my research topic, findings of which have proved invaluable in providing retrospect to the policy and process analysis of participation in the PRSP.


IFI and GoP documentation of PRSP process in Pakistan and civil society perceptions are being used to ascertain how the PRSP looked in practice. A further attempt will be made to identify the implications of a participatory approach to formulating a poverty reduction strategy by focusing on specific sectors like micro-finance or education sector reforms for example.



2. The draft outlines for the policy and research paper have been prepared. As per the submitted draft outlines, the policy study will identify means to assess the real value of participation in the PRSP and to provide suggestions for improved effectiveness and a greater sense of country ownership, whereas the .research paper will provide the findings, obtained through use of secondary and primary sources, on which the above assessment and suggestions will be based. In addition, a background paper tracing the role of international financial institutions in poverty alleviation, with specific reference to the case of Pakistan is being prepared and an outline of it is being submitted (see Annex II) in addition to the policy study and policy briefing drafts.


3. Besides obtaining feedback through the three main categories of stakeholders, i.e. Government of Pakistan officials, World Bank personnel and prominent civil society representatives, concerning participation within the PRSP, my research on the topic has led me to explore demonstrative instead of merely prescriptive means to identify the potential value of participation. In this regard, I have developed proposals and subsequently entered into formal cooperation agreements with the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and with South Asia Partnership - Pakistan (SAP-PK) to instigate further participation on the PRSP process. My discussions with SAP-PK led me to propose conducting a retrospective review of the PRSP in several districts across the country, involving several marginalized or ‘invisible’ civil society organizations like landless peasant and informal sector women groups (the proposal I developed for this activity is attached as Annex III and the findings of this review will be available by October). My discussions with the HRCP, on the other hand, have led to research concerning the impact of devolution and the implementation of the PRSP on local governments and local communities (proposal attached as Annex IV). Both these activities are currently underway and the findings emerging from this supplemental research will be highlighted in separate reports and salient issues concerning the ‘potential value’ of participation identified through them will also be incorporated into the main research report prepared for the project. More recently, I approached the Rural Support Programmes Network (RSPN) which was commissioned by the Government of Pakistan to undertake 120 consultative sessions with the poor across Pakistan, which in turn formed the backbone of the participatory mechanism utilized to make Pakistan’s PRSP. Extensive discussions with the RSPN staff has revealed that which the RSPN did put forth recommendations emerging from the 120 consultative sessions to the Government, no subsequent attempt was made to assess whether the PRSP did in fact reflect all these concerns in the formulated PRSP document. In addition to analyzing this issue at the institutional level, I have recommended to RSPN that the PRSP document should itself be shared with the people involved in the initial consultative sessions and they should be asked to comment on how well the PRSP policies have in fact addressed their concerns. RSPN has indicated an interest in my proposal (a brief of which is attached as Annex V) and subsequently requested the Rural Support Program in the Punjab to facilitate a pilot review to be designed and facilitated by myself. Please do note that this activity is currently under negotiation.


Interim Publications and Advocacy Report


There are distinct formats which can serve as a vehicle for disseminating ideas and recommendations emerging from my IPF fellowship. The ones on which I have begun work already are as follows:


1. The policy paper and/or research paper emerging from my IPF research work can be published in the form of a Center for Policy Studies discussion paper, or else in the form of an academic article in policy oriented journal, since I already have two peer reviewed articles on similar issues. Several publications should be interested in publishing my research, given its relevance for a number of developing countries, besides Pakistan, which have adopted the PRSP approach.


2. Findings of the above mentioned supplemental research studies concerning the impact of participation and a retrospective review of the PRSP, which I have initiated with help from the HRCP and with SAP-PK, would be disseminated by these organizations themselves. In addition to preparing these research reports for circulation by HRCP and SAP-Pk, I also plan to provide links to these reports via my IPF website and to explore the potential of further disseminating the results within the OSI network, including the Local Government Initiative in particular. Any suggestions or information about these proposed projects which are currently under way would be most welcomed by the author (Syed Mohammad Ali,


3. Subsequent to my agreement with VOA-Urdu Service, I have worked with the concerned producer to prepare a methodology and identify relevant guests for a proposed panel discussion on Pakistan’s PRSP. This Roundtable Discussion on the PRSP for Pakistan (whose panelists included Tara Vishwanath, PRSP Lead for South Asia at the World Bank headquarters in DC; Sajjad Sheikh, Deputy Secretary of the PRSP Cell in the Pakistan Ministry of Finance; Shandana Khan, Chief Operationg Officer of the Rural Support Network Programme; Irfan Mufti, Programmes Coordinator of South Asia Partnership – Pakistan; and myself) was broadcast by VOA on the 25th of July, 2005 and an audio-clip of this discussion is also available on my website:


4. The following columns of direct relevance to my IPF research topic (given their explicit reference to the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper) were published in the national daily English newspaper, The Daily Times and hosted by several other news websites as well:


i           Another development strategy for Pakistan


ii          Achieving the Millennium Development Goals

iii         Devolution and Development

iv         The Urban Poverty Phenomenon

Annex I


Relevant Government of Pakistan Officials




Moeen Afzal

Former Director General, Ministry of Finance

Dr. Kara

Technical Advisor to PRSP Cell by Government of Japan

Salman Amin

Financial Economist, Policy Wing, PRSP Cell

Sajjad Sheikh

Deputy Secretary, PRSP Cell, Ministry of Finance

Ahmad Biag

Deputy Director, Planning Commission


World Bank and other donor agency personnel




Tara Vishwanath

Lead Advisor, PRSP for South Asia Region

Manuella Ferro

Lead Economist, Poverty Reduction and Economic Management, South Asia Region, World Bank, Washington DC

Ijaz Nabi

Sector In charge, South Asia Region

Raj Nillari

Manager, World Bank Institute’s PRSP course

Zibu Sibanda

WBI: Poverty and Growth Program

Reiner Forster

Advisor, Social Development Department

Anis Ahmad Dani

Social Policy Adviser, ESSD Network

Katrina Skarkey

Senior Operations Officer, Poverty Reduction

John Wall

Country Director, World Bank, Pakistan

Raza Ahmad

Governance Specialist, Asian Development Bank, Islamabad


Civil Society Representatives




Rick Rowden

ActionAid, Washington DC

Dr. Virginia Apell

Research and Monitoring Incharge, National rural Support Programme

Shandana Khan

Chief Operating Officer, Rural Support Programme Network

Tanya Khan

Social Sector Services Specialist, RSPN

Atif Zeeshan

Programme Officer, Monitoring and Evaluation, RSPN

Mohammad Tahseen

Director, South Asia Partnership – Pakistan

Irfan Mufti

Programme Director, SAP – Pk

Kamila Hayat

Joint Director, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

Hina Sheikh

Program Coordinator, HRCP

Nauman Ghani

Chief, Monitoring, Planning and Research, Punjab Rural Support Program

Khawar Mumtaz

Program Coordinator, Shirkat Gah Women’s Resource Centre

Dr. Shaheen Rafi Khan

Research Fellow, Sustainable Development Policy Institute

Ahmad Jamal

Chief Operating Officer, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund

Abbas Rashid

Director, Society for the Enhancement of Education

Mahveen Azam

Producer, Voice of America’s Urdu Service


Note: The interviews are still ongoing and several of the above personnel were met with on more than one occasion.

Annex II


Background paper exploring the role of structural adjustment in alleviating poverty in Pakistan




While the structural adjustment approach has been guiding the orientation of International Financial Institutions (IFIs), namely the International Monetary Institute and the World Bank’s, approaches to poverty reduction in much of the developing world, the evidence that it actually brings about poverty reduction remains controversial. Such debate provides the premise for this background paper which will examine the specific relationship between the structural adjustment mechanism and poverty alleviation.


Since IFIs use structural adjustment in most parts of the ‘developing’ world, this paper will begin by examining the literature more generally to see how this mechanism has been used by the IFIs to address the problem of poverty in an international context. Then a conceptual background for the case study will be provided to introduce the history of structural adjustment in Pakistan. In particular, the ways in which the mechanism has proposed to deal with the prevailing poverty in the country will be identified. Governmental approaches to poverty alleviation before the introduction of structural adjustment in Pakistan will be mentioned to accentuate the IFI influence in dealing with this problem. Thereafter, the background paper will consider the implementation hurdles, accomplishments, failures and tensions in the ongoing implementation of structural adjustment leading up to formulation of the Pakistan Government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper.


The proposed background paper, put together after review of a broad range of secondary sources, will therefore provide the conceptual framework and background required to ascertain the need and the potential of infusing participation within the IFIs approach towards poverty alleviation in developing countries like Pakistan.


The proposed background paper will broadly be organized as follows:


1. Introduction

2. Structural Adjustment and Poverty

2.1       Neo-Liberalism, IFIs and structural adjustment 

            2.2       Poverty and the IFIs

            2.3       Is the IFIs approach to poverty evolving?

            2.4       Concluding remarks

3. Poverty and Structural Adjustment in Pakistan

3.1              Structural adjustment and poverty reduction

3.2       Government approaches to poverty and the increasing IFI influence

            3.3       Emerging contentions

4.  Assessing Structural Adjustment in Pakistan from a Poverty Perspective

4.1       Implementing Poverty Alleviation: SAPs I and II and the PRSP

4.2       Poverty trends under structural adjustment

4.3       Implications of structural reforms on the poor 

            4.4       Civil society responses to structural adjustment

4.5       Strengths and weakness of structural adjustment in tackling poverty

5.  Conclusions

Annex III


Collaborative research with South Asia Partnership - Pakistan


Proposal for Infusing Participation into Development Planning:

A CSO Review of the PRSP


I           Background


The Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) approach was articulated by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund during their annual meeting in Washington in 1999. Subsequently this approach has been encouraged in developing countries in the attempt to enhance the much needed sense of country ownership and participation to enhance effectiveness of development strategies. Thus far, Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers have been formulated by 57 developing countries across the world, including Pakistan.


Participation and the PRSP Approach: The PRSP approach places explicit emphasis on the issue of participation arguing that increased interaction and a sense of encouraging partnerships and a shared vision are vital for alleviating poverty. In fact, approval of PRSPs by the IMF and World Bank is conditional on the adoption of an acceptable participatory process for which a tool kit of methods has been suggested in the PRSP Sourcebook developed by the Bank. Also an annex in PRSPs on civil society organizations inputs is also required which can be viewed directly by the IFI Boards. [2] Although some independent reviews[3] of the participatory process initiated by the PRSP claim that NGO inputs into the PRSP process were evidently being filtered, which in turn became the compelling reason for IFI Boards requesting specific information on CSO input before approving country specific PRSPs.


Although the focus on participation within the PRSP process is intended to channel development aid more effectively to the poor in developing countries, retrospect on this experience is not without controversy. What constitutes an acceptable process is not specified in PRSP related document. As a result, many countries have been interpreting the mandating of participation as a ‘process’ conditionality, as opposed to a ‘policy’ conditionality which in turn has led to widespread disgruntlement with the quality of participation in many developing countries which have formulated PRSPs. Similar contentions undermined the sense of country ownership that is considered imperative for more effective poverty alleviation, as the experience of formulating the PRSP of Pakistan illustrates. 


PRSP in Pakistan: The Government of Pakistan drafted the Interim and final versions of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper to gain access to international funds at concessional rates. Formulated by the Ministry of Finance, the PRSP was presented at the Pakistan Development Forum in early 2004, under the tile ‘Accelerating Economic Growth and Reducing Poverty: The Road Ahead.’


The IMF and World Bank reviewed and approved Pakistan’s PRSP through a joint assessment. Thereafter, the World Bank released a US$300 million Poverty Reduction Strategy Credit in September 2004, which was the first phase of a three-year program to extend support for implementation of the PRSP. A PRSP Cell has also been established under the Finance Ministry to coordinate and monitor the PRSP process. Yet there is recent ambiguity concerning the future of the PRSP in Pakistan given that the Planning Commission has launched a five-year Midterm Development Framework at the Pakistan Development Forum in April 2005, which claims to have subsumed the PRSP. However, there are evident policy and perception gaps between the MTDF and the PRSP and a background paper commissioned by the Like Minded Donors Group[4] maintains that if the results of the latest Pakistan Integrated Household Survey, which will be used to access the PRSP approach, do not indicate improvements on ground, the PRSP may in fact be updated by the end of this year, whether it will be subsumed within the MTDF or revised on its own terms remains to be seen. Nonetheless, this is perhaps a good time of review the PRSP process in the country, given that its formulation was predicated on the need for more participatory policy making and that many of the assumptions emerging from the supposed participatory process have been endorsed by policy makers in devising strategies of the MTDF as well.


Retrospect on Participation in the Formulation of Pakistan’s PRSP: While still nascent, civil society organizations and particularly the NGO sector, has gained increasing influence in Pakistan over the past decade. So much so that the lack of building effective partnerships with NGOs was identified by the donor community as a major reason for the Social Action Programs of the 1990s to secure community participation. The IFIs have also reiterated the need for greater government cooperation with civil society organizations, particularly with NGOs, since they have closer connections to the grassroots level. The Bank itself first initiated a consultative process in developing the Country Assistance Strategy 2001-2004 for Pakistan. Subsequently the IMF and the World Bank endorsed the importance of consultation during the I-PRSP and PRSP formulation process in Pakistan. Both the Interim and the Final PRSP acknowledged the need to forge ‘a broad-based alliance’ to reach out to the poor. But there are sharp divergences in opinions concerning NGO experiences of the IFI initiated consultative processes. According to critics, the only “participatory” meetings that took place were those involving government functionaries and this sort of involvement should not be translated into the claim that the views of people at the district level have been solicited. The lack of consultation with political parties or with other civil society organisations such as trade unions, people’s movements, civic and professional bodies, academics, or other potential stakeholders has also been highlighted. Moreover, even well established NGOs in Pakistan remain skeptical about the extent of government commitment to forge ‘a broad based alliance’ with them, often citing the evident hostility and mistrust of government functionaries towards them as a cause of their pessimism. The reluctance of government functionaries to involve NGOs is indicated by the following remark (of an anonymous GoP functionary) recorded during the PRSP consultation meetings:

Consultations with civil society would take too long and NGOs would stall reforms because of politics. We need the participation of officials and agencies affected by reforms, not just civil society. Consultation cannot just be with NGOs…. Consultative processes should be left to government as they should know and be able to decide what segments of society they need to deal with.[5]

A letter sent to IFIs and to the PRSP Secretariat at the Ministry of Finance by the Islamabad based NGO research and advocacy think-tank, Sustainable Development Policy Institute which contained signatures of several prominent civil society organizations of the country[6], emphatically rejected the PRSP, both as a process and in its content.  Despite the rhetoric of participation, this lack of civil society endorsement of the PRSP process indicates a potential lack of acceptance, demand and/or support for the development strategy.


II          Justification of Proposed Review


Given the growing acknowledgement of the need to involve civil society in not only operationalizing development programs but in the formulation of development policies, the relative lackluster sense of ownership of the PRSP in Pakistan, could severely curtail the potential for poverty reduction despite the country’s recent economic resurgence. It is thus necessary to actualize the sense of ownership of the PRSP process and to take it beyond mere rhetoric and unconstructive criticism. Civil society organizations also needs to take a more proactive stance in engaging with the government and IFIs and there is particular need for this to put forth tangible suggestions to reduce poverty instead of adopting a confrontational stance and attempting to discredit claims concerning the existing approach to poverty reduction in the country (i.e. the PRSP).


If the existing policy prescriptions are to ever change, it will require that governments in poor countries who take the loans get to hear from their own peoples about support for specific policies. Independent research however suggests that borrowing governments are self-censoring themselves and what they permit to be discussed in PRSP consultations. This is perhaps because poor countries don’t want citizens groups coming up with all kinds of alternative economic policies that they know the World Bank and IMF will never accept and which would jeopardize their access to more loans.  So in a lot of ways, citizens groups were never given the chance to participate freely in participatory process despite the rhetorical emphasis on participation.[7] Given the limited “invited” spaces where CSOs are not able to set the agenda and alternative, “created” spaces are required to do so.


While, retrospect on the consultative process is useful to assess the quality of participation and to learn lessons for the future, it cannot rectify mistakes of misinformed policies currently under implementation. Even the monitoring mechanism of PRSP with its specific output and outcome level indicators is far from entrenched and even so its tracking mechanism is solely in hands of the government and the finding reported directly to the IFIs, without any provision of participation from civil society or the actual stakeholders at grassroots level. Yet one cannot turn back the clock and make the consultative or implementation process of the PRSP more participatory, or convince policy makers to change their stance towards civil society overnight, it is possible to undertake a parallel review of the PRSP process and to obtain unfiltered advice concerning the document, which can then be compared and contrasted to the document actually formulated, to identify gaps, inconsistencies and contradictions of approaches to poverty alleviation articulated by the IFI endorsed PRSP formulated by the Ministry of Finance, which is what this proposed activity will attempt to do.


III         Specific Objective


To enhance awareness of development strategies and to engage public opinion for assessing, reviewing and soliciting suggestions for improving policy aspects of development planning, using the PRSP as a reference document.


IV         Methodological Approach


The proposed activity will be undertaken in sample districts across the country, with specific locations determined bearing in mind geographic variations within the provinces. A range of stakeholders including ‘invisible’ civil society representatives like representatives of poor farmers and fisherfolk, labor and political leaders and a due proportion of women will be invited to participate. While logistical details concerning participants and the proceedings will be worked out in more detail subsequently, in essence the proposed activity will be divided into two distinct sessions as follows:


a)         Introduction to the PRSP: The participants will be provided with a concise but simplified introduction to the PRSP document which will not only facilitate their own awareness but also enable relevant and informed feedback.


b)         Consultative Session: The second session will be used to obtain specific feedback on the PRSP document itself. This consultative session, in addition to obtaining feedback evoked by the presentation of the PRSP, will raise specific queries to the participants, for example: 


o        Does the PRSP serve your strategic needs? If not, why not? In what sectors would you like to see changes, please specify? (This query would seek to obtain feedback from CSOs neglected by the PRSP process, like the Pakistan Fiskerfolk Forum for example, which are advocating the need for licensing agreements to secure their livelihoods. Some of the suggestions from ‘invisible’ CSOs may contradict the broader thrust of the existing document, the basic aim is to infuse the PRSP with a greater sense of ownership and subsequent analysis will attempt to categorize suggestions according to their prospect of bolstering the PRSP document, of modifying it or conversely which imply drastic alterations)

o        How can specific policies endorsed by the PRSP be made more participatory? (For example, the Education Sector Reforms have advocated hiring local teachers on contract due to the persisting problem of absenteeism and political interferences. This policy has been executed by provincial education departments but they were no dialogues initiated with line departments, with NGOs or School Management Committees before this policy was formulated. The consultative session would seek to obtain feedback on policies like the hiring of teachers on contract within the education sector, and/or on the microfinance strategy to alleviate poverty that has been endorsed by the PRSP).  

o        Does the PRSP provide enough policy ground for alleviating poverty? If not, what else would you like you have liked to see in the document? (This query is based on the evident critique concerning major PRSP’s agricultural policies for example, which are seen to focus on big landholders and the corporate farming, to the neglect of small farmers[8]; and due to the lack of support given to the informal sector).


Moreover, in addition to seeking feedback on PRSP specific queries, an attempt will be made to solicit feedback on conceptual issues[9] which could not be raised in consultative sessions organized by the PRSP process, not only in Pakistan, but in many other developing countries. Feedback solicited in this regard will be analyzed and provide the basis for not only supplementing the PRSP process but highlight the need and the utility of an alternative mechanism based on civil society priorities for a poverty reduction strategy.


IV         Perceived Outcomes of Proposed Project


Besides the spin-off effects of creating awareness and of demonstrating the potential of enhanced participation in development planning, the proposed activity will be undertaken at a critical juncture where the PRSP is due for its annual review and where another development strategy has already been unveiled by a contending government department, which aspires to subsume the PRSP and several of its policies assumed to have been formulated by a participatory process. The proposed exercise will therefore provide the opportunity to obtain more representative feedback and suggestions concerning salient development planning efforts by articulating a peoples’ agenda for poverty reduction. Feedback obtained from the participants will be collated and analyzed to determine specific gaps and contentions that exist in the PRSP document and where there is potential for altering and/or modifying policies within the PRSP (or even a contending development strategy like the MTDF) to enhance country ownership and effectiveness in terms of given ground realities.






Annex IV


Research collaboration with Human Rights Commission of Pakistan


Proposal to explore how the PRSP enables local governments to improve lives and livelihoods of common people in Pakistan


I           Background & Justification

The Devolution Plan, announced in 2000, forms the cornerstone of the current government's attempt to undertake inclusive development through empowerment of lower levels of government. The subsequent Local Government Ordinance promulgated in August 2001, and the Police Order enacted a year later in 2002, are considered vital for achieving this proposed commitment to poverty reduction and to bringing about lasting improvements in citizens' access to justice and social services.

Pakistan is still a seriously poor country. It is said that the vicious cycle of poverty lingers in Pakistan in large part due to governance structures that have tended to exclude the most vulnerable from decision making processes. The current government did acknowledge this lack of participation in governance as a major problem when it initiated work on an Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Program (PRSP), and thereafter on the final PRSP, with due support from donor organizations like the World Bank. The PRSP for Pakistan was finalized in December 2003. Furthermore, this broader framework for poverty reduction was explicitly dovetailed with the process of decentralization.


Parallel to the claims of devolution of political power resulting in increased representation of grassroots aspiration in the political arena, was the rhetoric accompanying the formulation of the PRSP, which mentioned that extensive participatory exercises were held through which views and opinions of a wide variety of stakeholders were solicited. Yet there is room for scepticism since there is been little domestic ownership of development policy prescriptions in the past in Pakistan, and there have also been serious design and implementation flaws in many structural adjustment interventions introduced by international financial institutions like the IMF and World Bank in the country. However, many bilateral donors have now also focused their funding initiatives on World Bank recommended Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers in developing countries like Pakistan. But despite the rhetoric of participation so boldly espoused by the PRSP in Pakistan, its formulation and subsequent implementation presents a serious challenge to legitimacy of enhancing ownership of development policymaking. Critics maintain that the only ‘participatory’ meetings held for the PRSP were those that invited government functionaries with a scattering of individuals indicating merger civil society representation. In spite the lack of legitimacy concerning the participatory nature of the PRSP, the fact remains that the strategy has been formulated and is under implementation.  In its exiting form, the success of the devolution program remains vital to achieving the human development and poverty reduction goals of the PRSP. Given that local body elections are around the corner, and that the PRSP is also scheduled for an update, this is a good time to examine the assumed synergies between these two reform attempts. It is particularly useful to consider if the emerging realities of the governance reform program initiated by the devolutionary exercise have in fact been conducive for the successful realization of poverty alleviation at the grassroots level, and to solicit suggestions from concerned stakeholders on ground concerning the possibility of doing so with greater effect.


II          Specific Objective


To ascertain the impact and the ultimate potential for local governments formed under the devolution plan to enhance social service delivery and safeguard socio-economic rights of people under auspices of the PRSP for Pakistan.


III         Methodological Approach


The proposed study will be undertaken in selected districts to obtain qualitative information through relevant stakeholders concerning the impact of devolution on the lives and livelihoods of common people.  


i           Site Selection: The proposed study would be conducted in one district of each province, in locations where the incidence of poverty is severe and where the state has evidently been unable to provide access to basic social services and where the apparent violation of human rights is evident.


ii           Stakeholders: The stakeholders of this study will include:



iii          Obtaining Feedback: Semi-structured interviews will be administered to district and tehsil government officials and councilors, whereas Focus Group Discussions will be used for obtaining feedback from the citizenry (7 to 10 participants in each FGD). The following issues should prove to be of relevance for the indicated category of stakeholders:


Questions for LG officials/Councilors


o        Are the provincial governments playing an enabling role (by extending the needed technical and financial assistance) to the local governments for them to be able to work effectively?

o        Are you being providing assistance for institutional and administrative development, and above all, continued fiscal support to ensure that adequate resources are available for poverty reduction and social sector development at the local level?

o        What should be done by the provincial governments to reorient their own role to become catalysts, facilitators, and technical advisors, while delegating responsibilities of formulation and implementation of development plans and projects to the local governments?

o        Has the Provincial Poverty Reduction Strategy been able to create new mechanisms whereby provinces can communicate their poverty commitments, as articulated in their strategies, through local government service delivery? What has been your direct contribution to achieve the targeted PRSP outcomes?

o        What are your comments on the LGO’s provision of allowing local governments to act like corporate bodies which can assign or sublet any such function approved by the Zila/Tehsil Council and where there are no public objections? Are there any other feasible alternatives to this market based strategy?

o        Has women's situation improved under the LB system?

o        Has the position of minorities improved under the system?

Questions for Citizens



iv         Collation and Analysis of Findings: Analysis of findings and its correlation to broader implications of devolution as it has been unfolding thus far and to compare and contrast this actual experience with its envisioned role under the rubric of the PRSP


IV         Perceived Outcomes


The research will enable analysis of the ground impact of devolution from the perspective of its implementers and also indicate if devolution of power has provided support to an overarching, donor-driven development plan like the PRSP that in turn had considered the success of devolution as being vital for its own success.  Obtaining views of local citizens concerning both the devolution plan and the PRSP would further shed light on further research requirements. While the emerging findings may not be of statistical significance but they will have replication value and provide the basis for making a sharper research methodology to best capture and reflect local government and peoples concerns.


V          Dissemination of Findings


These above findings will be disseminated to relevant stakeholders including donors and government officials working on development planning and devolution via the HRCP and IPF website hosted by the Open Society Institute.


Annex V

Research to assess impact of consultations with the poor on

Pakistan’s PRSP - Expression of Interest[10]


I propose conducting a review of the RSP led consultative process concerning the PRSP. The said review would enable feedback on how communities themselves assess the PRSP and what gaps remain in the document in terms of meeting their aspirations. Such a retrospect on the PRSP process would indeed be a unique exercise of relevance to all relevant stakeholders interested in making the PRSP process more effective.


Given my own research interest in assessing the 'real' and 'potential' value of Pakistan's PRSP, I would like to volunteer conducting the said review in two selected districts of the Punjab at the initial stage. The methodology in this regard would be quite simple and only entail bring back the COs which had been invited by Punjab Rural Support Program initially to obtain views prior to formulation of the PRSP. This time around, I would like to share the PRSP document with them and thereafter ask them if they feel that their concerns have been addressed by the formulated strategies and if not, what the missing gaps are. For this purpose, I would need to obtain district specific feedback from the two locations where the proposed pilot research is to be conducted. This documentation (including the questionnaires and consultation meeting reports) will help highlight specific suggestions that had emerged from the given districts. The consultative session will begin by reiterating these district specific suggestions, and thereafter present main PRSP policies formulated to address these specific concerns in order to obtain participant feedback concerning how well their suggestions have or have not been reflected in policy making. Such feedback could be translated into suggestions concerning what else should be done at the policy level to
further reflect peoples concerns, which you know is essential to this strategic approach of facilitating the sense of local ownership.


Being keen to initiate this process at the earliest, I was hoping that the RSPN could request the Punjab Rural support Program to facilitate this proposed review (in the first week of September, if possible). In turn, I would be happy to conduct the consultative session and to document the emerging findings to be shared with the RSPN and other relevant stakeholders.

[1] This list refers to interviews conducted with policy makers, prominent analysts and personnel of major relevant organizations only and thus do not list the range of local CBOs and civil society representatives consulted during the community based reviews of the PRSP

[2] Participation in Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers: A Retrospective Study (2004), Participation and Civic Engagement Group, Social Development Department, World Bank

[3] Catholic Relief Services (2001), “Review of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper Initiative. Based upon the experiences and comments of CRS Partners in Bolivia

Honduras, Zambia and Cameroon”, Baltimore, MD

[4] Khan, Shanza, 2005, In Pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals: An Assessment of the MTDF and its Alignment with the PRSP. A background paper commissioned by the Like Minded Donors Group (Canada, Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland)

[5] World Bank, 2002d, Pakistan Adjustment Policy Consultation Meeting: Comments and Suggestions by Participants, Islamabad, 23 January 23, 2003. Available at:

[6] SDPI, 2003, “PRSP rejection by Pakistani NGOs”, Copy of a letter written to the GoP by Pakistani NGOs. Available at:


[7] ActionAid, 2004, Rethinking Participation, A discussion paper available at:



[8] According to the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council approximately 4.1 million farmers own small farms (under five ha), whereas only 620,000 farmers own medium farms (5-10ha), and 350,000 farmers own large farms (above 10 ha) in the post-2000 period

[9] see Annex I for a list of tentative queries from which questions of greatest relevance to participants present at the CSO consultations will be put up for discussion

[10] Gist of relevant issues discussed in correspondence with Shandana Khan, Chief Executive Officer, Rural Support Programmes Network