Poverty Impact Assessments (PIAs) and Poverty and Social Impact Analyses (PSIA) are most alliteratively defined as papers analyzing the impacts of development policies, projects, and programs on predominantly poor populations. PIAs, while relatively quick and inexpensive to implement, rely on existing data and are often somewhat limited in scope. PSIAs, on the other hand, are more expensive and time-consuming, but allow for much deeper analysis and stakeholder participation. The April issue of the IPC's Poverty in Focus examines the pros and cons of both methods of analysis, with some recommendations for how both can be improved:
The process of how PIA and PSIA are conducted is crucial for their
effectiveness and needs to go beyond providing reports. Experiences so far show that the following institutional and process issues have to be addressed:
- The analysis needs to be embedded in the policy cycles of partner countries and donors. The timing for conducting a PSIA or PIA needs to be right. They need to take place early enough to feed into the debate and actual decision-making.
- The selection of reforms, programmes and specific topics and questions to study has to be done in a consultative and transparent manner. This builds the foundation for ownership and potential impact on policy or programme formulation.
- The analysis needs a solid institutional anchoring. PSIAs and PIAs have to be commissioned and facilitated by relevant players in the policy process to ensure that the results are used in decision-making.
- A good strategy for dialogue and communication at all stages is essential to encourage broad participation and ownership for the results.