Improving policy analysis and management for poverty reduction in sub-Saharan Africa: creating an effective learning community

Improving policy analysis and management for poverty reduction in sub-Saharan Africa: creating an effective learning community

Effective learning for poverty reduction in Sub-Saharan Africa: donor interventions and the role of postgraduate training

Significant poverty reduction in sub-Saharan Africa cannot be achieved without strong policy analysis and management capacity both in the public sector and civil society at large. This report provides a comprehensive needs assessment of policy analysis and management for poverty reduction (PAMPR) and current levels of expertise in seven countries in East and Central Africa (Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe). On the basis of this assessment, the report proposes the creation of a well resourced Poverty Reduction Learning Network (PRLN) that systematically addresses both the generic as well as more specialist sector learning needs of PAMPR practitioners in all countries in East, Central and Southern Africa.

Purposes of the report:

  • To provide an overview of donor-supported interventions to strengthen post-graduate training capacity in development studies in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) during the 1990s
  • to then consider how the knowledge and skills of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex and other UK development study institutions (DSIs) can be best applied to improving training capacity in this key area in SSA countries over the next decade.

With the rapid internationalisation of higher education provision, universities and other training organisations in the North are increasingly looking to develop franchised distance education courses in developing countries. Currently, distance education courses in DPAM (Development policy analysis and management) subjects offered by African institutions are relatively insignificant. However, there are a number of major donor supported programmes that will significantly increase the availability of distance learning courses using the new telematic technologies.


  • Training needs assessment: Macroeconomic policy analysis has been the favoured area of DPAM since the start of economic reform programmes in SSA in the early-mid 1980s. However, with the rapidly increasing emphasis that is now being given to the removal of more deep-seated structural constraints at the sectoral level along with poverty alleviation, other key policy objectives and subject areas need to be urgently addressed. This requires a wide ranging, multi-disciplinary approach to development policy and management which is the key defining characteristic of 'development studies'
  • There are a number of strategic options that should be explored in developing a programme of support for DPAM post-graduate training in SSA: These include an African development training consortium, validated courses, distance learning, link programmes, and better integration with donor-funded research activities
  • More generally, support for post-graduate training in DPAM must be consistent with the broad objectives for higher education reform in SSA. The broad principles that underpin 'good practice' in capacity building efforts in SSA must also be adhered to. In view of the relatively small size of target clienteles and, more serious still, the very limited training capacity of most DSIs in SSA, heavy reliance should be placed on regional 'centres of excellence' and any new programme must complement and build on on-going training and research initiatives


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