Analysing poverty impacts

18 June 2001

At their Spring Meetings the IMF and World Bank outlined plans to carry out social impact analyses when designing macroeconomic and structural reforms.

Starting this Autumn the Bank will pilot social impact assessments in a few countries, tentatively identified as Burkina Faso, Uganda, Mauritania, Albania, Vietnam and Pakistan. Before this there will be a stock-taking exercise in twelve countries to review the current state of knowledge on impact assessments with a view to developing a systematic approach.

Hugh Bredenkamp, IMF, said that the impact assessments would at first be “quick and dirty” but that experiences would lead to refinements in the process and deeper analysis, which will not be based on a modelling approach. The analyses will be carried out as part of the PRSP process and be on elements of Bank and Fund programmes. The Bank and Fund anticipate that the assessments will lead to more informed debate at the national level, assist with deciding appropriate sequencing and help to identify actions to limit anticipated negative effects.

The assessments will analyse selected policies, both macroeconomic and structural, and focus on impacts on the poor and vulnerable. Anis Dani, World Bank, indicated that it would be up to governments and civil society to identify which policies should be assessed. The Bank and Fund will also focus more on ex-post assessments to ensure there is appropriate follow up and an iterative evaluation process. Dani reassured NGOs that the assessments would not be limited only to aspects of income poverty and would be looking at how to assess other aspects such as empowerment and security.

NGOs suggested that the Bank and Fund rename the studies “poverty” impact assessments and also include the environment. The Bank says, however, that environmental impacts will only be assessed in a parallel process because methodologies are not sufficiently advanced.

Rather than produce a stand-alone document that will be published in full, elements of an impact assessment will be incorporated into various documents, such as poverty assessments, public expenditure, and development policy reviews. It is not anticipated that there will be any on-going involvement from civil society in the assessment process in terms of identifying alternative policy responses or ameliorating programmes. However, the Bank is committed to disseminating more of its analytical economic and sector work to facilitate public debate and choices in the PRSP process.

Concept Note Social Impact Ananlysis (SIA) of Macroeconomic and Structural Policies is on the IMF‘s website