Mr. Pascal Assey from the Poverty Eradication Division in the Vice-Presidents
Office (VPO) made a presentation titled Towards a National Poverty Monitoring
System. The presentation points to the fact that there is a growing demand and
urgent need on the part of the Government and other stakeholders to generate poverty
related data and effective systems for monitoring and evaluating current short-term
poverty eradication programmes. This demand began after the formulation of the
Governments National Poverty Eradication Strategy (NPES) in 1997, became more
pronounced during the process of drafting the Tanzania Assistance Strategy (TAS), and has
grown even more acute with the arrival of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) in
The demand for establishing a system of monitoring poverty has increased because of the
urgent need to do the followings: -
Have reliable and timely data to determine whether poverty reduction targets are being
Use data as evidence to promote evidence based policy analysis and planning
Enable policy makers to assess progress against targets and make adjustments where
necessary or to correct observed inadequacies.
The Government is in the process of establishing a comprehensive and integrated Poverty
Monitoring System (PMS). The terms comprehensive and
integrated are used because poverty monitoring in the past has been done in an
ad hoc and uncoordinated manner. Different stakeholders have been monitoring poverty
in an uncoordinated manner through different methodologies and samples of different
targets groups. As a result, the data generated from such surveys has not been
comparable, at times even radically contradicting with each other. This has made it
impossible for the Government to use existing data and information for locating where the
poor exist, as well as using it for planning and policy formulation.
Realising this shortcoming, the Government has now decided to establish a national
institutional framework for monitoring poverty. This framework is otherwise known as
the Poverty Monitoring System. The system is governed by a Steering Committee,
which is comprised by technical experts from the PRSP priority sector ministries and
chaired by the Ministry of Finance. The Division of Poverty Eradication in the
Vice-Presidents Office functions as the Secretariat to the Poverty Monitoring
The Steering Committee of the Poverty Monitoring System reports to a committee of
Ministers on the HIPC (Highly Indebted Poor Countries) Initiative, which then
frequently reports to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.
The Poverty Monitoring System has four (04) working groups. The names of the
group and the names of the institutions which have been given the mandate to lead the
groups in brackets are the (i) survey and census group (National Bureau of Statistics),
(ii) Routine data collection group (Presidents Office, Regional Administration and
Local Government), (iii) Research and analysis group (Planning Commission/ REPOA-Research
for Poverty Alleviation), and (iv) Dissemination and sensitisation group (Division of
Poverty Eradication Vice-Presidents Office).
A decision has been made by the Government to involve other stakeholders (including
civil society organisations) as much as possible in the process of carrying-out the
functions that are intended to be achieved by the Poverty Monitoring System.
Although one can argue that the target of setting up the system by June 2001 seems
complex and ambitious, one should be aware that the Government is not starting from a
clean slate. Current efforts by the Government to enhance its capacity to monitor
poverty are built on a number of on-going processes. These may be termed as the
building blocks of the Poverty Monitoring System. These processes are already
well underway and in-place. What the Government is aiming at is to integrate these
processes and focus them to inform Government and other stakeholders on progress being
made to achieve poverty reduction goals and targets. These building blocks
(i) The production of a poverty and welfare monitoring indicators booklet
published by the Vice Presidents Office in 1998. The booklet has 78 poverty related
indicators, which were developed through a wide consultative process.
(ii) A shorter list of priority indicators
outlined in the PRSP document.
(iii) The Household Budget Survey, a critical
source of data and information on poverty related indicators is well underway.
(iv) The Tanzania Socio- Economic Database.
(v) Public Expenditure Review/Medium Term
Expenditure Framework (PER/MTEF) processes. These are critical medium of expenditure
tracking and resource allocation to poverty reduction priority areas.
(vi) A monitoring and evaluation system being placed by
the Local Government Reform Programme (LGRP) to monitor the quality of social service
(vii) On-going sector - wide reforms such as health sector and
local government sector reforms, and agriculture and rural development strategies etc.
The next step in setting-up the Poverty Monitoring System involves the drafting of a
Poverty Monitoring Master plan. The Government is also exploring linkages with the
Civil Society Poverty/PRSP monitoring system, so as to be informed of poverty trends and
measurements from the civil society perspective.
Also, relevant to civil society poverty/PRSP monitoring strategies, the Government is
currently in a process of setting up the institutional framework within which poverty/PRSP
monitoring will take place. This framework includes, rules of the game
within which poverty monitoring will take place. This includes creating a condusive
policy environment and incentives for civil society organisation to engage in monitoring
Civil society representatives reacted to the Government presentation as follows:-
· It is not clear from the presentation whether space or a place has been provided for
civil society participation, engagement in the institutional framework for Poverty
Monitoring. It is not clear how civil society will provide feedback to the
Government-led Poverty Monitoring System.
· Reacting to the above contribution, another civil society representative argued that
perhaps that is the wrong question. The question should be what can civil society
organisations do independently from the Government framework. The representative was
skeptical about relying on Government - produced data on poverty reduction/PRSP targets
achievements. Instead of relying on the Government, the civil society strategy
should be to develop its own poverty monitoring master plan.
· Government efforts to set-up a poverty monitoring system are coming too late,
bearing in-mind that the PRSP has already started to be implemented even before setting-up
a system to monitor it!! The assumption that the Poverty Monitoring System will be
in-place by June this year is also over-ambitious, bearing in-mind that capacities to
generate statistical data in this country is in shambles. By any rate, it will take
at least 12 months before one can have reliable data coming out of the system that one can
feel comfortable to defend.
· The Chairperson of TCDD Rev. Dr. Mwombeki interjected and clarified that the purpose
of conducting this workshop is precisely to develop civil societys own system of
monitoring poverty and the PRSP. It is assumed that at the end of the workshop, all
participants will reach a consensus on a workable system to monitor the PRSP. With
regard to establishment of forum to meet or link with the Government system, rest assured
that for political and diplomatic reasons, the Government cannot afford to ignore the
views and opinions of civil society organisations. We will continue to exploit
existing forums and processes that civil society organisations have been using to dialogue
with the Government. Although the Tanzanian culture of dialogue with the Government
has not used dramatic events such as street demonstrations, but there are other effective
channels which take the message across.
· How can civil society (organisations) engage in monitoring the PRSP when we do not
even know the PRSP and its contents. Some of us did not get feedback on the PRSP
process until when the PRSP document was published!! In its existing format, the
PRSP document cannot be understood by common people or an average citizen. It is
written for those people who know the development/economic jargon. There is a need
to publish a popular, user-friendly version of the PRSP, which demystifies the current
· The PRSP is not user friendly because it was not produced for the poor, or an
average person. It was produced as a conditionality of the World Bank/IMF.
This not withstanding, we note that this conditionality has been a blessing in
disguise. It now forces the Government to produce and provide data and information
on poverty. Once the PRSP had been to submitted to the World Bank and IMF, it was
immediately put on the worldwide web in just a matter of days, where those of use who are
fortunate to have access to the internet could access it. It is critical that the
Government of the day should provide information especially information that directly
affects the lives of its citizens. We are told that the National Bureau of
Statistics (NBS) now sells information on poverty, thereby blocking civil society
access to it. We recommend that all data that the NBS has been paid to produce
should be given to consumers free of charge.
· Quantitative statistics are difficult, normally causing disagreements and arguments
on specific issues such as methodology, interpretation of indicators, analysis,
representative ness of the sample etc. Instead of being caught on
arguing about specifics, civil society organisations should focus more on monitoring
policy implementation. Since we are working at the grassroot level, near where the
poor are located, and since we have eyes to observe, then we know what poverty is.
That makes us have first hand knowledge on what is happening to poverty, and the
efficacy/impact of the PRSP. Without bothering so much on the nitty gritty of
statistics, we can bring in the policy dialogue real experiences of the poor.
· It is important for us to discuss what our responsibilities are in process of
engaging in the monitoring process, and what it actually means in terms of human and
financial resources. What capacities, finances, investment of staff time and so
forth go with monitoring poverty? Ideally, the initiative to involve CSOs in
monitoring poverty should keep on expanding until every CSO in the country becomes part of
· CSO should not just sit and say we are not getting Government documents and
reports. The Government does not have resources to distribute documents to a very
wide audience. Even if 10,000 copies of a policy document are produced, these are
still very few. We have to understand that the Government has to do so many things
so quickly all at the same time. So CSOs should be pro-active in accessing policy
documents and disseminating them within their own constituencies.
· We are aware of a certain analytic study which shows that Tanzania was going to have
more debt after the implementation of the PRSP than it did before the PRSP!!!
This makes us very worried about the true intentions of the PRSP. Is the PRSP just a
ploy of the World Bank/IMF? We should be careful. Do not think the World
Bank/IMF have suddenly become benevolent and are providing debt relief. The debt relief
provided so far is the so called bad debt. Bad debt is debt that records
from precious years show that the debtor has no capacity to pay, therefore forcing the
creditor to write it off. The World Bank/IMF are taking advantage of bad debt to
improve their public relations with Third World countries, donors and civil society
organisations. What can $60 million annually (amount of full debt relief after
completion point) really do to alleviate poverty. This is approximately $2 per
person per year! What dramatic changes to poverty can this bring?!
· Civil society need to deepen its critically engagement with Bretton Woods
Institutions (BWIs) here in Tanzania and internationally. It is useless for civil
society to lobby and pressurise our Governments to deliver if they are under unfair
pressure from World Bank/IMF.
· It was clarified that when the Government wanted to enter the HIPC initiative, it
agreed to the condition of producing the PRSP. The Bretton Woods Institutions
(BWIs) wanted to ensure that PRSPs are not produced in confined Government
offices as confidential documents. Governments are well known for
working in enclaves. Conditions were set to ensure that PRSPs are as people oriented
as possible. Seven (07) zonal workshops were conducted to enlist the views of
ordinary people to feed into the PRSP. Understandably, Governments
willingness to provide space for consultations and participation was threatened by
Governments hurry to reach the decision point.
· The Government will receive two tranches of debt relief in the interim relief
period, and specified amount annually after the completion point. The 1st
tranche of $12 million has already been provided. The 2nd tranche of $45 million
will be provided before the completion pointn ; $60 million, will be provided as
debt relief annually for 20 years after the completion point.
4.2 The presenter summarised by responding to the above discussions
· It is true that Civil Society Organisations need independently generated data to
engage in advocacy activities around the area of poverty and the PRSP. However, if
CSOs do not have concrete and credible data, they may be accused of making sweeping and
baseless arguments, and therefore have their case dismissed.
· With regard to a forum for civil society/government discussions/feedback; the
Government has invited CSOs to be represented in the Steering Committee of the Poverty
Monitoring System and all its four (04) technical working groups.
· Although one may feel that the Poverty Monitoring System is an ambitious
undertaking, we should all bear in mind that the Poverty Monitoring System is not starting
from a clean slate. The Household Budget Survey is underway, Local Government
Reforms and other processes will feed and contribute to the output of the Poverty
· A first draft of the Swahili version of the PRSP has been developed. The
Government has plans to extract key messages from the PRSP and produce user friendly
animated booklets/posters, and distributed them widely to the general public.
· The fear that the Government has restricted top-secret documents is just
a fear, but in actual practice, I can assure you as a Government civil servant, that there
are absolutely no restricted public policy documents that I know about. Even in the
past, Government documents used to be confidential only when they were in the approval
process. Once it has been approved, a document then becomes public for public
consumption. All these documents that you are demanding are available to the
public. They were available to the public in my office, even when they were still in
a draft form.