A participatory poverty assessment (PPA) was implemented in 2001 in Pakistan to engage the most marginalized members of society in deliberation on effective anti-poverty action and policies.
Problems and Purpose
This initiative arose out of a serious gap in national, international, academic, and NGO discourses on how poverty in Pakistan is discussed and how it is lived by those who experience it first-hand.
In early 2001, a participatory poverty assessment mission was implemented in the North-Western Frontier Provinces and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan by provincial and national steering committees, PPA-NGO partners, and a team of national consultants. The aim of the project was to empower the voices of the most marginalized members of Pakistani society, FATA’s poor, by engaging their opinions in not only public discourses on poverty alleviation and policy-making but also in the design processes of the PPA itself. The primary aims of a participatory poverty assessment are four-fold: 1) a better understanding of poverty, 2) new constituencies for anti-poverty action, 3) enhanced accountability to poor people, and 4) more effective policies and action. The PPA aims to involve the poor in a process with the government and civil society that can result in a change in policies and programmes.
The primary stakeholders are the poor, and other stakeholders include policy makers, at all levels of government and NGOS, as well as public opinion and image-makers, researchers and academics. This project is different than the World Bank’s respective participatory poverty assessment in Pakistan.
The project aims to build a reciprocal relationship between those who are trying to understand poverty for policy-design and those who actually live in poverty and are affected by those policies and programmes.
Background History and Context
Know what events led up to this initiative? Help us complete this section!
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
At the federal level, the Poverty Section of the Planning Commission managed the project and Oxford Policy Management and Overseas Development Institute offered technical and managerial support. The government of NWFP, the Poverty Section of the Planning Commission, the Government of Pakistan, SUNGI Development Foundation and the Federal Bureau of Statistics all played major roles in achieving the project’s goals. SUNGI Development Foundation acted as the coordinating NGO for the PPA in FATA. UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID) funded this project and the views and opinions expressed in the final report were not influenced or representative of DFID.
Four individuals from NGOS, government departments, and academic institutions were assigned to each site to conduct fieldwork.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
The primary stakeholders of this project were women, men and children of Khyber, Kurram, and South Waziristan Agencies of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Site selection, the question of which areas are the poorest and who constitutes the poor, was decided by area, agency and tehsil (administrative decision) input in a consensual manner. Due to local customs and power inequalities, women were not allowed to participate in the site selection process. There was some resistance in one area, Khyber, by the malik but local participants/analysts offered personal guarantees of protection to the PPA team. Another issue in participant selection was a fatwa issue in South Waziristan by the Afghani Taliban and their allies against NGO presence in the area. The sites were selected purposively with a focus on in-depth case studies with different agro-ecological and social contexts of poverty and livelihood. Among the local analysts/participants included those self-identified as the poorest within the sites of Mula Ghori, Parachinar and Toi Khola. A team of four candidates from NGOS, government departments, and academic institutions were assigned to each site to conduct fieldwork. At each site, around 50-80 locals would gather for joint analysis.
Methods and Tools Used
The project relied on a mixed methodology of a questionnaire and qualitative analysis methods such as triangulation and Participatory Reflection and Action.
A participatory poverty assessment (PPA) is defined as an instrument for including poor people’s views in the analysis of poverty, and in, the formulation of strategies to reduce it.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
The participatory poverty assessment had three stages: 1) setting up the institutional framework, 2) fieldwork, which involved participatory activities, decision-making, discussions, and 3) follow-up. The project was introduced as a tool through which Pakistan’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper framework policy could be critically assessed. Through qualitative data, the project aimed to shift the conversation on poverty reduction from "Who are the poor?” to “What is going wrong with the design and implementation of anti-poverty policies and programmes?" Stakeholders worked together to bridge the gap between grass-roots realities and the implications for policy-makers through the methodology of Participatory Reflection and Action (PRA). This relied on the principles of “learning together” and “triangulation" to facilitate an open-ended enquiry in which local people took the lead through techniques such as participatory mapping, matrix scoring, Venn diagramming, and well-being ranking to help individuals articulate their natural and institutional environments. More information on the particularities of the method and how it framed the conversations and participation is included in the final report.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The project resulted in a report for each of the four provinces, the two areas and one overall on poverty in Pakistan and AJK; a film; a dissemination programme, workshops for government, NGOS/donors; briefings for journalists; screenings of PPA videos; and actions plans to take forward the principal findings at both provincial and federal levels. The final report also consists of several, detailed policy reccomendations for different levels of government to respond to the more specific needs of each area, as described by the individuals themselves.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
Though the project offers honest commentary on its limitations (security, power inequalities, methodology), one major issue for this project is that its final reports were not co-authored with local analysts/participants. Rather, fieldworkers chose how the raw stories of locals were told by fitting the data into existing narratives on policy reform and research. The locals were seen as participants of a study, before they were seen as citizens affected by policy outcomes, and equal members of a joint-analysis. Though literacy, language and security are major reasons for this, some efforts could have been made to discover local mediums and styles for expressing policy critiques, gaps, and reforms. A strength of this project was that its design (from the language used to describe what constitutes “poor” in different areas of Pakistan, to how the study was to be implemented) was defined by its participants. From inclusion in the projects design to creating space for joint-analysis on poverty between government, NGO officials, and those affected by policy outcomes, the projects realized its aim to change how poverty is discussed on a policy level to be more responsive to conversations on the ground. There have also been quite a few critiques on accuracy and consistency issues with the kinds of qualitative data relied upon by this particular project as seen in the article by David Booth from the Overseas Development Institute.
Pakistan Participatory Poverty Assessment: Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) Report. (2003). http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http:/www.dfid.gov.uk/pubs/files/ppa-fata.pdf
OpeningParliament.org (2013, July 22). PILDAT: Performance monitoring of National Assembly of Pakistan from citizens perspective. http://blog.openingparliament.org/post/56141262721/pildat-performance-monitoring-of-national