Poverty Reduction, Power Struggles, and the Issue of Commitment
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Struggling countries that need financial resources but lack the credibility to access them usually turn to the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) for help. The IFIs respond by providing Structural Adjustment Loans (SALs) under the condition that the country implements reforms designed by IFI experts. This policy has been largely criticized. Researchers have started emphasizing the importance of country ownership for successful program implementation. Expression of that new emphasis is the recently developed strategy to internalize reforms and reduce poverty?Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs). A PRSP is a detailed country-led strategy for poverty reduction. Critics argue that countries allowed to design their own programs often suggest reforms they expect the IFIs to approve instead of policies the country actually needs. Other problems with PRSPs occur in the areas of donor relations, monitoring, and data collection. Some countries complain that the need for IFI board approval undermines country ownership. Ambiguity of roles and the lack of data add additional pressure and make the process of poverty reduction more inefficient. This research paper discusses the different views of country ownership. I use experience from PRSP and non-PRSP countries to determine whether the new PRSP program, as an expression of country ownership, significantly helps successful program implementation. I found out that country ownership is a helpful but not sufficient way to improve programs. Collaboration between the different participants in the process, commitment, and responsiveness to criticism are vital for the success of PRSPs.