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The Politics of What Works in Reducing Chronic Poverty. A synthesis report for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands

Samuel Hickey


There is a growing consensus concerning the forms of politics that are most likely to lead to successful forms of pro-poor policy, including the role of decentralisation and civil society, evidence-based policy and the opening of policy to the poor. This paper critically explores this consensus by examining the extent to which these forms of politics have underpinned actual examples of successful poverty reducing interventions. The focus here is on social protection policies, namely old age pension schemes in India, Lesotho, Namibia, and South Africa, vulnerable group assistance programmes in Bangladesh and Mozambique, and recent efforts to mainstream social protection within national development plans in Uganda and Zambia.

This comparative case-study analysis reveals that the consensus bears little resemblance to the actual politics of what works in terms of implementing and sustaining policies for the poorest. A synthesis suggests the need to shift attention towards political rather than civil society, to issues of discourse and ideology rather than simply poverty data, and to a closer understanding of how political contracts for social protection might be supported and developed.

Publication Type(s)

CPRC Working Paper


politics social protection international comparisons pensions civil society

ISBN: 1-904049-90-7


The Politics of What Works in Reducing Chronic Poverty PDF 560.8 KB

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