Chapter 2
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How will we Reduce Poverty?

bulletThe overall plan
bulletSet very clear targets
bulletCreate a national economic environment which stimulates development
bulletStay true to the three guiding ideas
bulletThe need for indicators
bulletThe three types of indicators
bulletBuilding a system for monitoring and evaluation

The overall plan

After talking with ordinary people and with various experts the Government has decided that three things must be done if we are serious about reducing poverty.

Set very clear national targets

bulletRather than make vague speeches full of good intentions, the Government has decided on a particular set of targets for what needs to be done, for example, Increase the percentage of children under 2 years immunised against measles and DPT from 71% to 85% by 2003.
bulletThis first set of targets might not be the right ones. Everybody is therefore asked to keep a careful watch on what is happening and to help change the targets or the ways of meeting them as necessary. Many of the activities will not take place until after the Local Government Reform Programme is well under way.

Create a national economic environment which stimulates development

Help the country to get richer by making the markets more efficient for small and large businesses and households involved in agriculture, industry and the service industries.

Work with foreign Governments and aid agencies to
bulletreduce the amount of foreign debt that has to be paid
bulletmake sure that they work together to help us to do what we have decided to do.

If you do not know where you are going any road will get you there.
[Arabic Proverb]

Stay true to the three guiding ideas

Many different people were involved in making the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. In future the Government will involve more and more people in deciding what needs to be done, in doing it, and in watching to see that things are going according to plan.

Everything in the Plan is shaped by three guiding ideas which are to:

bulletreduce income poverty
bulletimprove quality of life and social well-being
bulletreduce vulnerability amongst the poorest groups.

But how can we keep a careful watch to make sure that we are going in the best direction?

The need for indicators

We need to know that our money is being well spent. This means that we have to be clear about what we are trying to do, and then we have to watch whether or not we are successful in doing it.

Earlier we saw that targets have been set for various poverty reduction activities. For each of these activities we need ‘indicators’ that we can measure to tell if we are on target or not. The Government has set up a consultative process to decide what the poverty monitoring indicators should be.

Three types of indicators

It is not easy to decide in advance what the most useful and easy to use indicators will be. A lot of flexibility has been built into the system. There are three types of indicators:

bulletImpact and outcome indicators are basic and can easily measure the effect of activities on a regular basis (for example, the number of children under 2 years being immunised against measles every month).
bulletIntermediate indicators are measured over fairly long periods of time (for example, the number of households with access to safe drinking water)
bulletProxy indicators measure surface things that stand in place of deeper things that are more difficult to measure (for example, the use of modern materials for building houses as a measure of income).

The idea is to think of easy to use and useful indicators for each of the targets that are set out in the plan. The list of indicators that have been identified so far is given in the next chapter. Note that wherever possible and relevant, the information gathered using the indicators should tell us about the difference between males and females and between rural and urban areas.

Building a system for monitoring and evaluation

A lot of time, effort and money could be wasted if the system of collecting information becomes too complicated and formalised. The task is for all the people involved to think of good indicators that can be measured easily and often.

Information can be gathered about individuals, households, districts, regions or the whole country. And the collection process can be routine or through special surveys and it may take place regularly or only every few years. There are three main ways of gathering information:

Without good statistics countries cannot plan and monitor their development effectively. Badly informed decisions waste scarce resources, particularly those that affect poor people who are least able to cope.
[Clare Short]

Information about education, health and water can be collected through the existing administrative system where local government authorities send information to higher levels of government.

Some information will be collected through censuses and surveys such as through the household budget survey or the labour force survey. They may cover many topics.

Local level information can be gathered for use at the ward and village level. This will usually be collected through village registers and community interviews. Although much of the local information will be for local use it will also provide a very important way of cross checking the official statistics. It will also let the decision makers know how people, and especially the poor, view their own situations.

Statistics are the eyes of the policy maker.
[Keith Muhakanizi]

The reason for gathering information is to use it to get a better understanding of how successful the poverty reduction measures are turning out to be. It will then be necessary for all those concerned to change the indicators, activities, targets or even the policies that guide the overall strategy.

Many different organisations will be involved in collecting and analysing the information and then drawing out what it means in terms of policies for the future. The overall responsibility for monitoring poverty at the national level lies with the Vice President’s Office. It will work closely with the National Bureau of Statistics to feed information into the computerised Tanzania Socio-Economic Database and to make sure that everybody who wants to be involved can use and analyse the information in a coordinated way.

So we must be prepared to take up the challenge. There are still many weaknesses in Tanzania’s poverty monitoring activities and the PRSP provides a golden opportunity to build a useful and efficient system. As it says in the PRSP, “The Government intends to continue to seek fuller representation of the poor and other stakeholders in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the poverty reduction strategy, and in subsequent revisions of the PRSP.

 

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