Community targeting for povery reduction: lessons from developing countries
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This paper analyzes the efficacy of the community-based targeting approach as a means of identifying the poor in anti-poverty programs. It examines the performance of 30 community-targeted programs in developing countries, both in terms of the technique used to identify beneficiaries as well as broader targeting “design” issues such as targeting criteria, monitoring, transparency, accountability, elite capture, and corruption. This paper is intended to be a timely contribution to ongoing policy debate on poverty targeting in which community-based approaches are enjoying growing support. Community-targeted interventions have tremendous potential to benefit the poor; the technique is undoubtedly preferable to universal poverty programs whose benefits are thinly spread across the entire population. Moreover, robust, program-specific design protocols are seen as critical success-inducing factors; monitoring, transparency, and accountability have a strong positive correlation with targeting performance, while elite capture – defined as the ability of a handful of individuals to hijack the beneficiary selection or benefit transfer process – and corruption are negatively correlated. Further, community targeting is better attuned to communities where societal tensions and extreme disparity are not a preexisting concern and where there is no known tendency towards cultural exclusion based on criteria not linked to poverty levels. On the other hand, the technique is not suited to situations where poverty reduction impacts are strictly dependent on following stipulated criteria. Communities inevitably digress from the criteria, and any efforts to check this tendency offsets the potential benefit from allowing them to use local knowledge. Community targeting is also no recommended for programs where aggregation of poverty data is a high priority, such as programs that seek to create national or regional poverty rankings.
This repository item contains a single issue of The Pardee Papers, a series papers that began publishing in 2008 by the Boston University Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future. The Pardee Papers series features working papers by Pardee Center Fellows and other invited authors. Papers in this series explore current and future challenges by anticipating the pathways to human progress, human development, and human well-being. This series includes papers on a wide range of topics, with a special emphasis on interdisciplinary perspectives and a development orientation.