This paper is part of a series synthesizing work on PRSPs; aid modalities; and aid harmonisation to encourage dialogue between UK and Japanese researchers on these issues.
The introduction of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) in 1999 was heralded by some as a significant innovation in aid policy and practice; others remain sceptical. The approach arose out of a number of trends and concerns during the 1980s and 1990s: a growing focus on poverty reduction; increasing use of participatory methods; and long-standing concerns over the effectiveness of both policy conditionality and project-based aid.
One of the hypotheses underlying the innovation was that if pro-poor strategies could be more firmly embedded within national policy-making structures, better policy implementation would emerge, resulting in more positive impacts on the lives of the poor.
This paper focuses on this hypothesis and synthesises the results of a number of reviews of progress. Most work so far has concentrated on the process changes advocated by the new approach rather than the content of documents. This is because this was felt to be the major innovation and that if processes could be got right, better content would follow.