Rethinking Participation: Questions for Civil Society about the Limitations of Participation in PRSPs

The purpose of this report is to acknowledge the limitations of the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) process and raise questions for civil society organizations (CSOs), social movements, parliamentarians, and other participants in Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) consultations. Do the PRSP consultations bypass formal democratic processes? Is poverty reduction the same thing as development policy? Are rights-based approaches to development and the international financial institutions (IFIs) compatible? Is not being allowed to discuss structural adjustment policies acceptable? How could PRSP consultations be improved? Should CSOs work within invited spaces or created spaces? In answering these questions, the report addresses a series of concerns over the PRS process, how it is structured, who participates in it, the issues discussed, and the domestic political ramifications. Specific shortcomings in both the principles and practices of IFIs are raised, as are opportunities for CSOs to influence and improve on these policies. Advice is also given on whether and how CSOs should engage in the PRS process. Ultimately, this is a guide for CSOs on how to evaluate their own PRS process situations and how to move forward.

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