This review provides an update on practice and experiences of civil society participation in the development of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs). It was commissioned by DFID and conducted from August-October 2001 by the Participation Group at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS). It begins with an overview of how the principle of participation has been interpreted by a range of actors and how these vary between International Financial Institutions, civil society and governments. Underpinning these variations is the difference between civil society participation as a means to a more effective poverty reduction strategy and participation as a means for non governmental actors to gain voice in their country's policy making and political processes. The review suggests that on balance civil society participation can add considerable value to PRSP processes and to transforming policy environments in ways that are beneficial to the poor and supportive of better governance and more responsive behaviour by governments and donor institutions. Although participation can add value, the review does not demonstrate conclusively that in all countries significant value has been added to date, nor that as much has been added as could be with better quality participatory processes.
Institute of Development Studies