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Some stumbling blocks to the effective analysis, monitoring and evaluation of poverty and poverty reduction programs in Zambia

Venkatesh Seshamani

University of Zambia

20-21 November 2006

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Conditionality is normally regarded as an abhorrent word. But a conditionality that came with the advent of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, PRSP, could be considered as a welcome blessing for Zambia. It was the requirement that for a country to qualify for concessional aid from the IMF and the World Bank, it had to prepare a PRSP through wide stakeholder participation and consultation in order to ensure national approval and ownership of the prepared document.

Civil society organizations in Zambia had hitherto been a motley group of individual institutions working in isolation and with little say in national development decision-making. These organizations now saw in the above conditionality an opportunity to integrate themselves into a collective and powerful group with a voice that government could not ignore. The Civil Society for Poverty Reduction, CSPR, that was born some six years ago, has managed to bring more than a hundred organizations within its network and is now seen to play a very dynamic and purposeful role in orienting the direction of Zambia's development path.

Zambia's national PRSP, incorporating many of the inputs provided by civil society through the CSPR, has come to be regarded as an exemplary exercise in broad stakeholder participation.

The participation by civil society in the preparation of the PRSP has not been a one-off affair. The vibrant civil society has been trying to ensure that all development-related activities will be an inclusive process and that its role will not be confined only to making contributions to the preparation of all national documents such as the annual budgets, National Development Plans, etc., but will also extend to the analysis, monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the policy and program content of the documents. It is here that success does not seem to be commensurate with that achieved in preparing the PRSP or even the most recent document, the Fifth National Development Plan.

There have been several stumbling blocks to the effective analysis, monitoring, and evaluation of the development policies and programs especially in the context of poverty.

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