Pro-Poor Governance

Many donor agencies now embrace poverty reduction/alleviation/elimination as their overarching goal. This is often reflected in their efforts to assist in the process of organisational reform, but experience indicates that the extent to which this has impacted on organisational capital of host institutions is variable.

Key ‘best practice’ lesson

Projects’ work in empowering the poor to demand a better level of service may be their most significant contribution to sustainable rural livelihoods, particularly when they help local civil society organisations to emerge and become stronger. However there are opportunity costs to the poor in organising, because for them more than most time is money, and they will see these costs as worthwhile only if the organisations are structured around activities that raise returns to labour (e.g. by improving and augmenting human capital) so as to deliver economic benefits.

Lessons Learnt

  • Decentralisation can be achieved on a small scale in the short term but it is not clear to what extent this can be scaled-up and mainstreamed. Greater emphasis from project and programmes is needed to define workable mechanisms for scaling up and mainstreaming initiatives like the decentralisation process.

  • Inter-agency collaboration improves service delivery and increases access to services for communities in closer contact with local NGOs and private sector agents. Ways need to be found to sustain collaborative arrangements.

  • The use of Competitive Grant Scheme or Value Based Research, applied field-based research in partnership with other agencies is effective, under certain conditions, in targeting benefits towards poor people and women but the lessons on overall socio-economic impact are incomplete and sustainability by implementing agencies unclear.

  • Agriculture provides an effective entry point for developing and empowering self-help groups. Pond farming, homestead gardening and poultry rearing enable programmes to focus attention towards women. The demand of services has greater impact and more likely to succeed if from a group.

  • If pro-poor drivers for organizational change are identified from within the entire stakeholder community (farmers groups, government officials to politicians), evidence suggests that the more effort invested into this part of the process then greater returns for driving change are likely but the fragmented nature of projects and donors make it difficult to coordinate this.

Key Findings

  • Decentralisation of research funding processes and the promotion of Competitive Grant Schemes (CGS) through GoB agencies has encouraged demand-led, participatory and livelihood research in collaboration with partner organizations (NGOs and private sector). Similarly, decentralization of extension processes (fund, plan and implement) driven by projects (FTEP, FFP and ASIRP). More autonomy through the ASIRP UPIF approach.

  • The implementation of field-based pro-poor research has stimulated popular reform (among the research fraternity) in implementation of university research programmes (SUFER and REFPI) but does require increased funding and collaboration with local NGOs and private sector agents. More emphasis on social development impact of technical-based research is required.

  • The CARE RLP has demonstrated that field level governance exemplified by developing empowerment of self-help groups to demand better services from national service providers. A rights-based activity promoted by the project is part of empowerment process.

  • Cluster committees established across CBFM2 project sites, appear to be regarded as important, needs-driven institutions that add clear value to problem-solving processes.

  • PPG REFPI stakeholder participation (inclusive of community level) has resulted in relevant outcomes focused on real needs of the poor (REFPI).

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