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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:What Do the World Bank's Poverty Assessments Teach Us About Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa?
Authors:Hanmer, Lucia C.
Pyatt, Graham
White, Howard
Periodical:Development and Change
Geographic term:Subsaharan Africa
Subjects:World Bank
Economics and Trade
Abstract:As part of the World Bank's poverty reduction strategy, poverty assessments (PAs) have been carried out for a number of countries which analyse who the poor are, the causes of poverty and poverty reduction policies. By early 1996, 25 PAs had been produced for 22 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. These studies were undertaken with financial support from bilateral donors. As one such donor, the Dutch agency DGIS (Directorate-General for International Cooperation) commissioned a study as to what could be learnt from these assessments about poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. This paper is a summary of the resulting report. It shows that the PAs over-emphasize income-poverty defined against an inevitably arbitrary poverty line. They are weak in addressing the causes of poverty, often ignoring the historical perspective, political context, and international dimensions such as debt and commodity price trends, focusing instead on the lack of growth in recent years as the main cause of poverty. Weak understanding of the causes of poverty undermines the basis for country-specific poverty reduction strategies: policy recommendations are usually an uncritical presentation of the World Bank's three-pronged strategy of growth, investment in human capital and social safety nets. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum.