The World Bank has recently decided to shift responsibility for the implementation of the SAPRI exercise from Washington to its regional field offices. SAPRIN welcomes this move, as our Network has been active in the eight SAPRI countries over the past two years, working with broad-based civil-society networks mobilized across sectors and regions.
At the same time, we are encouraging the Bank to establish the internal systems in Washington that will enable it to begin to integrate the field learning now emanating from each of the local exercises into its operational and economic-policy development as SAPRI progresses.
In late September, the Bank wrote SAPRIN regarding SAPRI’s focus and sent copies to European governments that are supporting the Initiative. For the sake of transparency and accountability, we present that letter below, along with SAPRIN’s response. Together, they should provide a clear picture of where SAPRI now stands and where it is going:
The World Bank
Washington, D.C. 20433
CAIO K. KOCH-WESER
October 1, 1998
SAPRIN Steering Committee
Secretariat, c/o The Development Gap
927 Fifteenth Street, N.W., 4th Floor
Washington, DC 20005
As we enter the incountry phase of SAPRI, it is time for a serious stocktaking of how things are going. Speaking for the Bank, we consider the SAPRI initiative to be as important and as useful as when it was first conceived. However, for a variety of reasons, timetables have slipped, and at the global level there have been more difficulties, particularly in the area of public communications, than I am sure either side considers constructive.
Therefore, we would like to propose to the SAPRIN Steering Committee that we agree as soon as possible on an accelerated timetable to get things back on track so we can meet our original target dates. We also believe that it is now time for a very fundamental shift of authority to the field by both the Bank and the SAPRIN Steering Committees.
In order to accomplish these objectives, we propose the following. First, we would ask you to consider accelerating the SAPRI timetable so that the exercise can be concluded by the end of calendar year 1999. We think the following target dates represent a realistic framework for accomplishing this. December 1998: Completion of First National Forums; August 1999: Completion of Fieldwork Investigations; Early Fall 1999: Second National Forums; and December 1999: Second Global Forum.
In order to facilitate this timetable we believe it is important that both sides now shift increased responsibility for the SAPRI process to the country level. In our case, to help us meet these added responsibilities, we will provide increased budgetary support to regional Bank staff working on SAPRI. We will also ask our Resident Missions to administer directly the trust fund monies which are allocated for the fieldwork in each country. Finally, our Country Directors and Resident Representatives will now take the lead in all decisionmaking about the Bank's SAPRI work in their respective countries.
We think that these are all logical next steps so that the exercise becomes truly countryfocused. They also represent an important steppingup of the Bank's commitment of resourcesboth staff and financialto SAPRI. It is our hope that these changes will also help to inject new momentum into SAPRI on the part of participating governments.
Similarly, we would like to see the SAPRIN Steering Committee hand over its decisionmaking authority to the lead country organizations. We know that this is the Committee's goal, and that you have effectively pushed for local ownership and participation. We hope that you can now turn over all major decisionmaking functions to the lead NGO/civil society organizations in each country so that they may work effectively with our country staff and local government representatives.
Among those functions which should be handled at a local level would be the issuance of press releases and the preparation of summaries about the national forums. The selective reporting by the Secretariat about the first two national forums held this summer concerns us deeply. Those reports were unbalanced and appeared to prejudge what the final findings of the SAPRI exercise would be. They also served to damage the support that we once enjoyed from participating governmentswithout which this exercise will lose much of its credibility. In the participatory spirit on which SAPRI hinges, we would hope that future reporting on national forums could be worked out and agreed on together by all members of the local SAPRI committees. Only in this way will such reports credibly represent the various and collective perspectives of all parties involvedNGOs and civil society, governments, and the Bank.
In summary, our hope is that moving to a fieldcentered, pragmatic program of the kind we have described above will lead to much swifter, more collaborative, and more insightful analysis of the impact of adjustment in the countries that we are studying. This will in turn lead us to outcomes which we can actually operationalize, thereby truly moving the issue forward. We hope the Steering Committee will understand the seriousness of our requests and respond accordingly. They are offered in a genuine spirit of collaboration and commitment to the success of the SAPRI initiative.
Caio K. Koch-Weser
Structural Adjustment Participatory Review International Network
Citizens’ Challenge to
Charles Abugre N†
ISODEC/Third World Network
Gemma Adaba N
Maria Teresa Diokno-Pascual
Freedom from Debt Coalition
Doug Hellinger N
The Development GAP
John Jones †
Norwegian Forum for Environment
SAPRIN Hungary P
Kamal Malhotra N†
FOCUS on the Global South
Poverty Reduction Forum P
Rede sobre Institucoes
Inter-Church Coalition on Africa
& Halifax Initiative
Victor Quintana N
Roberto Rubio N†
Gita Sen †
External Gender Consultative Group
Marijke Torfs N
Friends of the Earth
EURODAD & WEED
African Women's Economic Policy
Network (AWEPON) Africa
N Executive Committee
† Technical Committee
P Lead Organization
Secretariat c/o The Development GAP
927 Fifteenth Street, NW , Washington, DC 20005 USA
Tel: 202/898-1566 - Fax: 202/898-1612 - E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
9 October 1998
Mr. Caio Koch-Weser
Managing Director, Operations
The World Bank
Washington, DC 20433
Thank you for your letter of 1 October. We had a good meeting the following day with Joanne Salop of your office, who was most gracious and responsive to our comments on the letter. Given our mutual interest in increasing the degree of Bank/SAPRIN collaboration in the SAPRI exercise, we thought that a more formal reply was also appropriate.
As we explained to Joanne and the others at the meeting, we were surprised by your opening assumption that the in-country phase of SAPRI was only now beginning. Actually, there has been extensive civil-society field activity in virtually all the countries over the past 18 months. In fact, in some nations the extent of local SAPRIN outreach to almost all regions and sectors, and the degree of cross-sectoral mobilization to participate in the national exercise with government and the Bank, have been quite extraordinary. While we wish the Bank had been more fully involved in-country to date, particularly in eliciting equally broad-based government participation in SAPRI and in relating to the broad civil-society networks that have emerged, we welcome your decision to decentralize resources to the field at this time and look forward to working more closely with the Bank teams.
To effect the degree of civil-society organization cited above has necessitated extensive coordination among the local, regional and global levels within SAPRIN. While the Bank has functioned as an unified institution for more than half a century, we have had to build a multi-level structure that could integrate hundreds of organizations in a highly complex and participatory project while the field exercises themselves were taking shape. Our local committees have asked that SAPRIN strengthen its regional and global presence in order to facilitate ongoing cross-country learning and to represent their views in the international arena. It has been understood from the beginning that SAPRI would involve three levels of work, and we will be relying on this structure as the Initiative moves forward and learning emanates from the field.
Media work based on this local learning will begin in the field, and we are committed to the idea of tripartite press releases in each country soon after the national fora, where feasible. All the parties to the local exercises should be encouraged to give full voice in these releases to civil-society perspectives on adjustment programs, as this was the original intent of the SAPRI exercise. We expect that the civil-society steering committees, the Bank and governments will also feel free to carry out their own independent media work and that the Bank will join SAPRIN in actively publicizing the national public fora in advance of these sessions. SAPRIN also reserves the right to utilize local materials and analysis, or elaborations thereof, at the regional and global levels and looks forward to working with the Bank in this area, as well.
While we agree that collaborative publicity around SAPRI should be maximized, your concern about government reaction to SAPRIN reporting on the first two national fora perplexes us. Our colleagues in the field inform us that criticism in this regard has come only from the Bank and that it has concerned citizen perspectives accurately reported from the record of a public dialogue. We would hope that, rather than discourage the public airing of views, the Bank will reinforce the openness that participating governments have displayed by agreeing to engage in a public exploration of adjustment programs.
The greater involvement of the Bank and government in the local exercises will help achieve the acceleration of the SAPRI timetable that you are seeking. As you know, we effectively lost six months while the negotiated SAPRI information-disclosure agreement made its way through the official approval process at the Bank, and the failure to release in an expeditious manner all relevant documents at the country level still plagues some exercises. Fortunately, the Bank’s decision to finally sign off on the financial contribution from the Swedish government to the Initiative will ensure that the field exercises will continue without interruption.
In our meeting at the Bank, all the parties appeared to understand that SAPRI is not so much a research project as a far-reaching participatory process with important operational and policy implications for the Bank. We were encouraged by Joanne’s recognition that the Bank has not sufficiently engaged itself in the participatory, or operational, aspects of the exercise and that it must now do so in order to take full advantage of the knowledge that the local civil-society structures can provide.
While we welcome the Bank’s increased presence at the local level, we also look forward to beginning to work collaboratively with the Bank at the policy level in Washington, as well as in the regions. In determining the purpose of the SAPRI exercise some three years ago, we and Jim Wolfensohn agreed that the focus would be on exploring changes in the Bank’s economic-policy package through the direct involvement of civil society worldwide. As Mr. Wolfensohn has argued this week, the need for new approaches, grounded in local reality, is today greater than ever. The broad civil-society networks that SAPRIN has built, and continues to build, around the world provides the Bank with a golden opportunity to tap immediately into a knowledge base that both your President and Chief Economist recognize as being essential to good policymaking in the future.
The research phase of SAPRI is important, and can deepen learning in the field, but it should not delay the processing of local experience and analysis that is being offered to the Bank from the civil-society networks in SAPRI and other countries. As we indicated at last week’s meeting, we would welcome the active participation of Joe Stiglitz on the joint Bank/SAPRIN Steering Committee and his involvement in the ongoing integration of SAPRI-related learning into the Bank’s development policy work. We feel strongly that this would contribute significantly to the original purpose of the Initiative, which is ever more important given the current global crisis and the Bank’s deepened commitment to locally determined development processes.
With the research phase of SAPRI currently being launched in two countries and national public fora approaching in four additional nations, we look forward to working more closely with the Bank at all levels in this multi-dimensional initiative.
for the SAPRIN Global Executive Committee
cc: James Wolfensohn
Mark Malloch Brown
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