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Training for ex-ante Poverty Impact Assessment (PIA) at GTZ

October 13, 2008
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Last week I went for a three-day training on ex-ante Poverty Impact Assessment (PIA), organized by GTZ. It was held in a small town just outside of Frankfurt in a seminar facility that was almost hidden in the forest. With a group of 25 participants from donor agencies, consultants and research institutes, we a learned more about the PIA tool and its practical implementation. The tool was developed by the POVNET of OECD-DAC and is an effort to harmonize impact evaluation efforts and bring the pro-poor agenda to the forefront. It was very interesting to hear about the donor agencies’ perspectives as we don’t hear about them much in the academic world. And of course, it was very interesting to learn about PIA.

The PIA tool consists of five different modules that one has to work through to obtain a picture about possible poverty impacts of specific development projects or programmes.  These projects can take place in all kinds of areas of development and need not specifically be directed towards the poor. PIA is a tool to then assess in how far the project does actually impact the poor. Although the tool has useful elements and forces one to think about a multitude of issues that otherwise might have slipped the mind, it is also based on very strong assumptions about linear relations between different situations. The tool asks you to predict poverty impacts based on very little information with little analytical tools. In academic terms, this tool wouldn’t be considered to be a very sound or solid tool for measuring poverty impact. Nevertheless, if it is used to force its users to think more in-depth about the project and its possible outcomes for the poor, it is certainly useful in its own right. All in all, it was a good and interesting training. I have some reservations about the methods learned but also think that it all depends on the time and place of its use to assess whether it is appropriate or not. Judge for yourself by having a look at the manual for PIA!

Manual for ex-ante Poverty Impact Assessment (PIA)

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