Sep 072012

Navigating Between MDG Constraints and Debt Relief

NCCR North-South Dialogue No. 46
Francis Akindès

In 2000 the Ivorian government committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). But prior to engaging in this process, in 1997 the government had already determined strategic areas for combating poverty according to the approach and process needed for preparing its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). This was done within the perspective of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. Already within the framework of the HIPC initiative, the possibility of a partial debt relief hoped for by the state entailed a certain ownership of the budgetary constraints suggested by economic reforms. Another constraint – this time political but with economic and financial implications – was added in 2002 with the severe socio-political crisis that took place between 2002 and 2011. According to successive reports elaborated by the Ivorian government in partnership with the UN, the results achieved in the fight against poverty are not conclusive after approximately ten years of experience with poverty reduction strategies and economic reforms referred to as “pro-poor”.

The objective of this report is to show (i) how the armed conflict weakened the state’s capacity to finance its commitments, and (ii) how the logic of the government’s action in favour of poverty reduction was, in large part, inspired more by the prospect of eligibility for the HIPC initiative based on economic reforms than by its commitment to the MDGs. Finally, the present publication shows (iii) how the framing of economic reforms in view of the HIPC initiative reduces the power of the state to initiate truly endogenous poverty reduction strategies.

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