University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences (BOKU), Centre for Development Research, Austria
Poverty reduction strategy papers (PRSP) are well known approaches adopted to help poor countries and their development partners strengthen the impact of their common efforts on poverty reduction. But what is the effect of PRSP in reducing poverty? Do PRSPs stimulate growth in the agricultural sector? Do they improve calorie availability from farmers' own production? Do they improve household incomes? On these questions, there is surprisingly little empirical evidence. In this paper, we look at the case of Mozambique, based on data from seven nationally representative household surveys between 1996 and 2008.
Mozambique has missed the overarching goal of reducing poverty in its PRSP II. In particular, it has failed to increase agricultural production and productivity through the promotion of agrarian services. The paper relies heavily on descriptive analysis, and some regression analysis. Many indicators set in PRSP II were not fulfiled, namely its irrigation target, access to price information and agricultural extension, availability and access to improved seeds and fertilisers. In addition, after significant improvements between 1996 and 2003, calorie availability from farmers' own production, used as a proxy of food security, deteriorated in the period to 2008. Income distribution has become more unequal, and poverty has worsened in the six years to 2008.
Rural poverty is intrinsically correlated with produced calories, and fluctuations on agricultural production due to vagaries of the weather raise additional questions. Was the remarkable reduction in rural poverty observed between 1996 and 2002 a permanent change in poverty, or just a transitory change? Will Mozambique achieve the MDG of reducing poverty if the cropping season of 2014/2015 is not favourable? If vagaries of the weather are driving most of the changes in rural poverty, then what are the farmers' prospects with the threats of global warming?
The next generation of PRSP should place higher priority on reducing household vulnerability to the weather, increasing irrigation where feasible and water harvesting/conservation technologies, expanding agricultural extension, and increasing the technological level of small farmers.
Keywords: Food security, poverty, Mozambique, trends on caloric availability