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Enhancing knowledge-sharing to support the poverty reduction strategy process in Africa

Background:

African governments and their external partners have agreed that an altered aid relationship between African countries and their external partners must be based on mutual commitments to attain the MDGs and thereby reduce poverty.

Vital to this new aid relationship are the PRSPs. Shortly after their introduction in 1999, ECA hosted a workshop for African countries and launched a high-level mission to several African countries at different stages of the PRSP process. One key message that came out from the workshop and consultations was the view that African countries had lost out on systematic sharing of experience and peer learning and the need for an articulation of a strong African voice in the international community on the continent’s experience with the challenges of adjustment and poverty reduction.

Member States urged ECA to establish an African-owned forum that would facilitate African peer learning and serve as a mechanism through which Africans could ensure the relevance of the PRSP approach to Africa’s development challenges. To meet this demand, ECA established the African Learning Group on Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP-LG) to facilitate systematic information sharing among diverse stakeholder groups in African countries (including civil society) on their experience with the PRSPs in order to identify best practices and outstanding implementation challenges, and to promote peer learning and African ownership of poverty reduction strategies.

Based on the PRSP capacity-building needs as identified during the African PRSP-LG sessions, the ECA is assisting countries by providing advisory and policy support, brokering support from other development institutions and partners, and networking expertise to assist African countries. The Learning Group meetings have discussed next steps in the implementation of the enhanced PRSP knowledge-sharing project with representatives of pilot countries. Each year, 10 new countries will be identified to prepare studies for the LG.

The aim of this project is to broaden the annual PRSP-LG by augmenting it with mechanisms for knowledge sharing and peer learning, throughout the year, among African PRSP country teams as well as key research institutions in the continent. The project also seeks to strengthen and broaden policy and analytical research on poverty reduction in Africa by African experts.

Objective:

Strengthen African capacity to meet the Millennium Development Goals through knowledge-sharing mechanisms connected to the African Learning Group on the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs). The project will nurture an African perspective that can ensure the relevance of the PRSPs to Africa.

Expected accomplishments:

  • A strengthened knowledge base on practice among African countries on national poverty reduction strategies, including the PRS process.
  • Strengthened linkages between PRS country teams and in-country as well as regional and Diaspora research institutions and networks, towards more demand-drive research on poverty.
  • Improved capacity of Member States for economic and social policy formulation and management

Implementation status:

The knowledge audits of fifteen countries were completed successfully and the buy-in of key poverty reduction strategy practitioners from government institutions, civil society organizations, research institutions and from the private sector was gained. Through these audits qualitative and quantitative data have been collected on knowledge sharing practice and readiness of the individual countries. Analysis of the data collected from the knowledge audits has been completed and a draft report will be ready by the end of January 2007. Additional knowledge audits focused on post-conflict countries will be discussed and might be undertaken in the second quarter of 2007. Four Electronic Roundtables have been launched and completed. Each Electronic Roundtable was devoted to one of the following themes: Ownership, Leadership and Accountability; Growth, Poverty Reduction and the Implementation of the MDGs; Capacity Needs for Achieving the MDGs; and A New Aid Architecture. The topics of the electronic roundtable have elicited a good response from poverty reduction strategy practitioners. Issues and questions raised will be reflected in the final report and are likely to influence ECA’s research agenda.