Challenge Paper 3: Poverty focus in selected Swedish bilateral aid portfolios

This paper analyses 12 Swedish bilateral country programmes of development cooperation and the extent to which they are focusing on interventions assessed to be effective in fighting poverty, according to the Chronic Poverty Report (CPR) 2014-2015 and other research findings. We scrutinise interventions amounting to more than SEK100,000 annually for the years 2012 and 2013, assessing these against a CPR-based scheme consisting of effective policies to fight extreme poverty, stopping impoverishment and sustaining escapes out of poverty as well as policies for progressive social change. In order to contextualise poverty and capture country-specific dynamics, two country case studies complement the study.

The study finds about half of Swedish bilateral aid interventions are effective at poverty reduction. Swedish bilateral aid is stronger at tackling extreme monetary poverty than it is at tackling impoverishment or sustaining poverty escapes. Hence, ability to deal with the dynamic character of poverty is weak. Another finding is that Swedish bilateral aid allocations are driven largely by other factors than the promotion of effective poverty reduction. This is despite the fact that poverty reduction is, and has been, the overriding objective of Swedish aid since its start 50 years ago.

Author: Mats Hårsmar; Expert Group for Aid Studies, Sweden

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