Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) and people with disabilities rarely participate in any Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) processes, even though one of the principles of such processes is the involvement of civil society. This reflects the common tendency that people with disabilities lack a strong and united voice in most countries. This handbook by Handicap International and Christoffel-Blindenmission presents experiences and proposes ideas on how DPOs and people with disabilities can participate in national PRSP processes.
Specifically, it initially proposes steps to include disability issues in PRSPs and indicates the main entry points in the process for civil society participation. It then describes case studies from Honduras, Bangladesh, Sierra Leone and Tanzania, discusses the structure of PRSPs and their stakeholders, considers the concept of disability, and provides advice on negotiations, project and process managements, and lobbying. Its final chapter acts as a toolbox to facilitate the discussion and planning process.
In return for developing national plans to reduce poverty (PRSPs), low-income and highly indebted countries are able to apply for debt relief and new credit. Governments are responsible for coordinating the PRSP process, but civil society should participate as much as possible. The World Bank, IMF and other development organisations provide a mixture of technical advice and financial support.
It is important to include disability in PRSP processes because it is both a cause and consequence of poverty. PRSP processes involve all sectors of society, all of which are also relevant to people with disabilities. Yet studies show that without the participation of DPOs, most activities proposed for people with disabilities are orientated around charity, rather than education, training and employment.
The quality and quantity of activities proposed in PRSPs for disabled people vary for the following reasons:
- The World Bank’s literature on poverty reduction fails to comprehensively address the issue of people with disabilities and their interests.
- In the past, DPOs and people with disabilities seldom participated in the PRSP process.
- Few studies have been undertaken regarding the situation of people with disabilities, which means that there is only limited understanding of important issues.
- Furthermore, poverty analyses rarely include people with disabilities and thus proposed action seldom addresses the real problems.
PRSPs are countrywide strategies and involve many different stakeholders. It is therefore important that different organisations cooperate to achieve unity and give essential issues more prominence. Systematic use of lobbying and advocacy tools and techniques is essential in order to find the most effective approach for each country. Also, the PRSP process is based on a long-term perspective and requires DPOs to participate regularly and continuously. Thus, by carrying out organisational self-assessments, DPOs can identify and overcome existing difficulties. Generally, there are entry points for civil society participation at the three main stages of the PRSP process:
- At the formulation stage, Participatory Poverty Analyses (PPAs) allow DPOs to contribute their opinions and experience of poverty. DPOs can also contribute to PRSP drafts and participate in PRSP workshops and conferences.
- During the implementation stage, DPOs can provide advice, sensitisation and project execution.
- DPOs are sometimes offered the opportunity to participate in monitoring and evaluating the quality and quantity of PRSP activities.