Poverty Reduction and Country Assistance Strategies - Feature Photo

The World Bank uses several roadmaps to guide its projects and operations.

Poverty Reduction Strategies
The Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSPs) describes a country's long term vision. The paper is prepared by low-income country governments in consultation with various stakeholders such as civil society and the private sector. The paper sets out macroeconomic, structural, and social policy goals.

The paper also lays out a country's external financing needs for meeting those goals, such as loans and grants from the World Bank and other donors, that are meant to promote economic growth and reduce poverty. The Bank and other donor agencies line up their assistance with these countries' priorities and targets.

Countries have used PRSPs to address their investment climate and prescribe measures to foster private sector development, or to chart plans to improve governance and reduce corruption. Many concentrate on issues facing the agricultural sector and rural areas, and stress the need for investment in key basic services, particularly health and education in implementing their strategies.

The World Bank provides training and technical and financial assistance to support the design and of national poverty-reduction strategies. For example, it helps countries improve their poverty analysis, public expenditure management, and service evaluation. It also offers Poverty Reduction Support Credits (PRSCs), annual programmatic loans, to support the implementation of these strategies.

Both the World Bank' International Development Association (IDA) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) require a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper in order for low-income countries to receive lower cost financial assistance from the Bank (through IDA) and the IMF (through its Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility).

Country Assistance Strategies
The Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) - also called in some cases Country Partnership Strategy or Joint Assistance Strategy - lays out a selective program of World Bank Group support for a particular country. This strategy is developed by Bank staff in meetings with government officials, in consultation with country authorities, civil society organizations, development partners and other stakeholders. It takes as a starting point the country's own long-term vision for development and takes into account the Bank Group's comparative advantages in the context of other donor activities. The strategy is designed to promote collaboration and coordination among development partners in a country.

The CAS includes a comprehensive diagnosis-drawing on analytical work by the Bank, the government, and/or other partners-of the development challenges facing the country, including the incidence, trends, and causes of poverty. The CAS identifies the key areas where the Bank Group's assistance can have the biggest impact on poverty reduction. In its diagnosis, the CAS takes into account the performance of the Bank's portfolio in the country, the country's creditworthiness, state of institutional development, implementation capacity, governance, and other sectoral and cross-cutting issues. From this assessment, the level and composition of Bank Group financial, advisory, and/or technical support to the country is determined.

To track implementation of the CAS program, the CAS is increasingly results-focused. It includes a framework of clear targets and indicators to monitor Bank Group and country performance in achieving stated outcomes.