This article introduces the 51st edition of PLA Notes, on civil society and poverty reduction. The PLA notes edition aims to capture the experiences of southern civil society organisations (CSOs) that are engaging in monitoring, evaluating and implementing poverty reduction strategy (PRS) processes. This introductory article describes how the authors involved in this edition of PLA notes came together for a writeshop in Nairobi, Kenya, July 2004. The key issues identified include the diverse nature of civil society; the conditional nature of poverty reduction strategies; the quality and degree of participation of CSOs; and the existing power dynamics that challenge the effective monitoring of poverty reduction funds and consequently the implementation of policy reduction policies. The article concludes by looking at issues of capacity building, shifting accountability relationships, and strengthening facilitatory partnerships between CSOs. In the final section, the authors look at how we can build on these reflections and move forward.
International Institute for Environment and Development