PREM Notes

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This note series is intended to summarize good practices and key policy findings on poverty reduction and economic management (PREM) topics.
Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa, home to more than 1 billion people, half of whom will be under 25 years old by 2050, is a diverse ...

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    Pro-Poor Public Spending Reform : Uganda's Virtual Poverty Fund
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2006-03) Williamson, Tim ; Canagarajah, Sudharshan
    The Poverty Action Fund (PAF) was introduced in Uganda in 1998 to reorient government expenditures towards implementing its Poverty Education Action Plan (PEAP) as well as to account for Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) resource use. This paper notes the successes of the PAR, the negative aspects, and the key lessons learned. Successes include: reorienting budget allocations towards pro-poor service delivery and demonstrating the additionality of debt relief; mobilizing donor resources and harmonizing conditions; and improved budget predictability, transparency, and accountability. The negative aspects include: unbalanced budget allocations, biased budget implementation, partial monitoring and evaluation, and no exit strategy. The key lessons were: To be effective, a Virtual Poverty Fund (VPF) should be simple and limited to the identification of Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) priority expenditures in the budget classification system; a VPF should be introduced in a way that supports rather than replaces the implementation of such comprehensive improvements in budget preparation and implementation; and a VPF does not bypass the need to have a PRSP and an effective budget process that identify priority pro-poor expenditures to be included in the VPF as part of a broader policy framework for growth and poverty reduction.
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    Decentralization and Governance : Does Decentralization Improve Public Service Delivery?
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2001-06) Kahkonen, Satu ; Lanyi, Anthony
    Decentralization holds a lot of promise, but whether it improves public service delivery depends on the institutional arrangements governing its implementation. Several conditions must be met before the full benefits of decentralization can be reaped. First, for decentralization to increase allocative and productive efficiency, local governments need to have the authority to respond to local demand as well as adequate mechanisms for accountability. Because granting authority without accountability can lead to corruption and lower productive efficiency, decentralization needs to be accompanied by reforms that increase the transparency and accountability of local government. Second, functions need to be devolved to a low enough level of government for allocative efficiency to increase as a result of decentralization. Low-level governments are likely to be aware of local preferences and, if able to do so, are likely to adjust service delivery accordingly. Third, citizens should have channels to communicate their preferences and get their voices heard in local governments. But the existence of such channels is not enough. To effectively influence public policies and oversee local governments, citizens need to have information about government policies and activities. The media play a crucial role in this area.
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    Understanding Poverty Reduction Impacts with Innovative Monitoring and Evaluation
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 1999-10) Garcia, Marito ; Alderman, Harold ; Rudqvist, Anders
    Monitoring and evaluation systems are often the least addressed component of project design, and implementation. Yet, such systems have considerable potential for enhancing the impact of projects, and the understanding of poverty reduction impacts. This note addresses what makes effective monitoring and evaluation, where both quantitative, and participatory methods are needed to assess a project's impact on poverty. It examines the case of the Uganda Nutrition and Early Childhood Development Project, a process-driven, locally prioritized program, being implemented by a network of nongovernmental organizations, that motivates communities, and provide information to project participants. The project relies on systematic monitoring of inputs and outputs, and, community participation in planning, and monitoring facilitates bottom-up feedback. The note further highlights a randomized experimental design, i.e., a baseline and follow-up surveys, that assess the impact of project activities, of communication and information, and of grassroots management training, and income generation activities for community welfare. The benefits of proactive monitoring and evaluation are that it enables timely inputs into management decision making, and that the quantitative methods used, are important determinants for assessing, and verifying a project's impact.
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    Using Surveys for Public Sector Reform
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 1999-05) Reinikka, Ritva
    Diagnostic surveys can provide vital information for decisionmakers when institutional weaknesses inhibit a more regular flow of information. If strategically designed, a survey can help induce policy change by pointing directly to the main bottlenecks, making it easier for policymakers to find solutions. This note summarizes two cases in Uganda where diagnostic surveys proved particularly useful. The first case involves public spending on health and education; the second considers tax administration from the perspective of taxpaying firms.