Assessment of Poverty Reduction Strategies in sub-Saharan Africa:
The Case of Malawi
The Malawi Poverty Reduction Strategy (MPRS) was formulated and launched in 2002. The main thrust of the strategy was economic growth through poverty reduction. The government and its stakeholders have conducted two main reviews of the implementation of the strategy. The strategy was implemented amidst poor economic conditions. The most notable issue during the implementation period was an upsurge of domestic debt stock due to poor economic governance policies pursued by the authorities.
This paper has analysed the weaknesses that emerged during the implementation process of the strategy. The paper has clearly shown that lack of strong political institutions and independent governance institutions greatly contributed to overall poor macroeconomic outcomes. The poverty reduction strategy papers in the world should not be used as a vehicle of accessing donor funds but as a means of outlining strategies for addressing development issues.
The approach to the analysis has been comparing the strategies contained in MPRS and the actual achievements. In some cases, the study has benefited from two Annual Progress Reports (APR) of MPRS. It should therefore be noted that the paper has dwelt more on the implementation issues than on the formulation issues.
Ephraim W. Chirwa
The concept of formulating development strategies in Africa dates back to the post-independence era in which policy coherence and consistency were necessary to bring about rapid and systematic economic development. Like other African countries, post-independence Malawi has been characterised by the formulation of development strategies. The early development strategies tended to live their life span and never overlapped. The development strategies during the early years of independence were based on solid understanding of the post-colonial economic environment and were in line with the ideals of self-determination and independence. Economic performance during this period was encouraging because there were strong growth rates and a stable macroeconomic environment. However, the advent of structural adjustment programmes has resulted in economic and development strategies largely driven by external forces, particularly the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. These externally driven development strategies have yielded disappointing results and have shown lack of understanding of the structural nature of African economies. Economic performance in the post-reform period has been mixed and characterised by high macroeconomic instability and erratic growth rates. This study finds that the Malawi Poverty Reduction Strategy was formulated within the context of conditionality for her access to debt relief under HIPC. The main findings of the study are:
• The process was characterised by limited and hasty consultation with the stakeholders initially left out in the formulation, monitoring and evaluation process. There was no sense of ownership of the MPRS and this led to problems of implementation.
• Although the study find out wide range of issues, the following are the most outstanding findings: the MPRS fails to offer alternative policies to the failures of the structural adjustment programmes, it does not articulate how economic policies will affect different welfare groups, it is less informed by empirical research on what works or does not, and it has poor focus on employment creation issues.
• MPRS implementation has been the most problematic area due to lack of effective sense of ownership, poor rationalisation and prioritization, exclusion of other stakeholders in implementation and monitoring, financial and human resource constraints, lack of appropriate institutions, poor integration of the MPRS with the budget system and the absence of an integrated monitoring and evaluation system.
Maxton G. Tsoka
PRSP is the latest among the many initiatives churned by the World Bank and IMF. Malawi is one of the countries that developed and implemented a PRSP as a condition for accessing debt relief under the Enhanced HIPC Debt Initiative. This paper presents the findings of an assessment of the Malawi PRSP. Using secondary data, the Malawi PRSP process was assessed from inception to monitoring and evaluation and the ownership hypothesis inherent in PRSPs was tested. The assessment has rejected the hypothesis that the Malawi PRSP was owned but the development was inclusive and participatory. The main reason for the rejection is that the Malawi PRS was poorly funded, implemented and monitored. The Malawi PRSP turned out to be a typical conditionality and arguably a fast fading fad. The paper concludes that Malawi is unlikely to achieve sustainable poverty reduction as long as the idea of poverty reduction comes from outside the Government and the country. Malawi has to realise the need to reduce poverty and work to reduce it