The PRS approach is now four years old and firmly into the implementation phase. Forty one countries have a full PRS under implementation and a further eleven have an interim PRS. Four countries – Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Bolivia and Nicaragua – have reached the stage of formulating their second PRS, while Uganda is finalising its third.
Two elements of the PRS approach are of particular interest to those taking stock of early experience with PRS implementation – the annual progress report (APR) and the joint staff assessment (JSA) – because both play potentially pivotal roles in addressing outstanding challenges that are central to the success of the PRS approach.
- First, there is a need for donors to move beyond the rhetoric of Monterrey and Rome towards concrete action on PRS alignment at country level. An APR which is aligned with national processes and forms a single focus for donor reporting offers potentially significant gains in this area. How the JSA fits into this vision appears less clear cut.
- Second, as the deadline for meeting the Millennium Development Goals approaches, the case for increasing PRS financing appears ever more urgent. Questions are being asked about whether APRs and JSAs provide a sufficiently credible basis for the increased aid flows that are needed to help PRS countries realise the Millennium Development Goals.
To date, at least nineteen Annual Progress Reports (APRs) have been produced in a total of twelve countries. Burkina Faso and Uganda have each produced three APRs and Mauritania, Tanzania and Nicaragua have each produced two. Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Vietnam, Albania and Honduras have each produced one APR. Joint Staff Assessments (JSAs) have been carried out on at least sixteen of these APRs, bringing to one hundred the total number of JSAs produced to date. The other JSAs relate to twenty three Interim PRSPs (IPRSPs), twenty three Preparation Status Reports, and thirty eight JSAs of full PRSPs.
This paper has three aims: (i) to summarise Bank and Fund guidelines on the expected role and purpose of the JSA and the APR; (ii) to review country-level experience, and (iii) to identify emerging questions and challenges.