Children in Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers and budgets in West and Central Africa
Most Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) in West and Central African countries have placed a strong emphasis on children’s interests.
However, according to the regional study carried out by UNICEF Regional Office for West and Central Africa and Oxford Policy Management, this pro-child orientation of PRSPs has often not been carried over into government expenditure, due either to weak incentives or technical shortcomings in countries’ public financial management (PFM) systems.
The study included a regional review and five country case studies on Burkina Faso, Chad, Ghana, Mauritania and Sierra Leone.
The objective was to assess the impact on children of the PRSPs, the evolving fiscal environment and related reforms in PFM systems and aid modalities in West and Central Africa.
Since 2000, interim or full PRSPs have been adopted in 22 out of the 24 countries in West and Central Africa.
The study therefore assessed PRSPs’ attention to child poverty reduction and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and examined whether child priorities have been reflected in resource allocations, both through national budgets and donors’ aid disbursements.
The assessment concluded that PRSPs differ widely in the extent to which child poverty problems are addressed in their policy frameworks, resource commitments, implementation plans, and monitoring and evaluation frameworks.
Moreover, few countries have significantly increased public spending on the social sectors, as a proportion of total government expenditure, despite the commitments to do so in most PRSPs and the overall improvement in the public finances of most countries prior to the onset of the global crisis in 2008.
The study found that most governments deliberately restrained public expenditure from growing as fast as the rise in revenue and aid in order to reduce their deficits.
The divergence between PRSP priorities and actual expenditure patterns suggests that one of the biggest bottlenecks is the weak articulation between the PRSPs and the budget process.
This often reflects institutional problems concerning ownership and incentives, as well as technical shortcomings and capacity constraints.
Addressing these problems is critical to improve the delivery of health, education and other public services for children.
UNICEF wishes to acknowledge the funding contribution of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
Links may be found below to the regional report, the country reports and related briefing papers. (Links will appear as documents are available.)
• Fiscal Space and Public Expenditure on the Social Sectors
• Increasing Aid and its Effectiveness in West and Central Africa
• Children in Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers and Budgets in Ghana
• Les enfants, les documents de Stratégie de réduction de la pauvreté (DSRP) et les budgets en Mauritanie
• Children in Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers and Budgets in Sierra Leone