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NOPOOR Report Summary

Project ID: 290752
Funded under: FP7-SSH
Country: France

Periodic Report Summary 3 - NOPOOR (Enhancing Knowledge for Renewed Policies against Poverty)

Project Context and Objectives:
Nopoor project context and objectives

As stated in its title, Nopoor’s central objective is to enhance knowledge for renewed policies against poverty. To achieve this objective, Nopoor brings together researchers from twenty teams and seventeen countries, ten of which are teams from developing and emerging countries in three regions (Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia). Nopoor partners also intervene in half a dozen more countries in those three regions. These countries have different characteristics – such as their access to resources, political regime, quality of institutions and governance – as well as different experiences in policies aimed at reducing poverty. This diversity feeds into Nopoor’s research agenda in that it calls for policies and actions to be tailored to each country’s characteristics.

The concept
The Nopoor project aims at producing new knowledge on poverty in developing countries to generate more efficient poverty reduction policies. It takes a comprehensive approach to poverty and places the emphasis on its dynamics. Understanding how and why some people fall into poverty, and how and why others break out of poverty is relevant to the efficient design of anti-poverty policies.
The research carried out by Nopoor is grounded in empirical work. Great emphasis is placed on data collection and work on databases. Data collection consists of both quantitative and qualitative surveys in partner in some other countries. Most of these operations have been completed and a few of them are still ongoing due to unavoidable delays due to external circumstances. Databases of secondary data have also been built. This new knowledge is systematically stored in the ‘data warehouse’ so that it can be shared among partners. At the end of the project, it will be made available to the general public.
Several analyses use comparative approaches, including case studies, to identify which (and why) poverty alleviation strategies have worked in some countries and not elsewhere. Comparisons of the policy outcomes of more successful countries may be very useful to identify relevant poverty alleviation strategies.
Globalisation increases interdependence between countries via the growth of international trade, the increase in foreign direct investments and the higher mobility of workers. Whether or not globalisation affects poverty in developing countries is still a debated issue. Nopoor investigates the impact of globalisation by means of a number of case studies, taking into account the effect of trade, international migration, technology transfers, etc. In this respect, the changing architecture of international aid is also investigated.
The role of politics, at both national and local levels, is key to understanding poverty reduction policy successes and failures. The quality of institutions, good governance and public service efficiency are necessary conditions for successful policy reduction policies. Nopoor emphasises the importance of politics, at national and local levels, in understanding poverty and evaluating policies.

The six objectives of Nopoor
In addition to its headline goal of contributing new knowledge on the extent of poverty, the project focuses on six major objectives:
1) Improve the measurement of poverty across its many facets
2) Evaluate how globalisation and international aid and assistance policies have transformed the poverty issue in an interdependent environment
3) Examine and draw on lessons from the past and different experiences to improve the effectiveness of domestic policies
4) Point up the role of local interactions between poverty and politics
5) Forecast major, predictable events in a post-MDG environment and the role of new technologies
6) Recommendations, dissemination of project results and awareness raising
Nopoor places a special emphasis on disseminating findings and their policy implications to academics and policymakers, stakeholders, international organisations, civil society, the business community and the public at large.

Project Results:
Many programmes are now terminated and have produced significant results. More than 50 papers are now being finalised for publication in academic journals. In particular, Nopoor now releases policy papers at a steady pace.

How globalisation affects poverty positively or negatively is analysed through three dimensions: migrations, aid and trade.
Remittances of migrants have a positive impact on poverty reduction for those left behind. Hometown associations of migrants collect funds to invest in public goods in their village. They contribute to improve local governance by asking for more accountability of local elite and transparency of public affairs, reducing the capture of public funds. In another context, in Mexico or in Senegal, remittances may not change much the situation of the family when they are used for immediate consumption. Policies should aim at improving the channels and use of remittances for investment to reduce poverty on the long term.
Whether opening to external trade is beneficial for the poor is a strong debate. A study on Free Trade Agreement (FTA) of the EU with West African countries shows that the impact of FTA differs according to the local context. Thus, it is necessary to adapt its rhythm and intensity to local conditions. From a different view, a Brazilian study shows that trade specialization on primary products is not the best choice for creation of good jobs and poverty reduction.

Labour, education and social policies
More attention should be paid to labour markets to combat poverty. In some countries, job quality has deteriorated despite economic growth, and people are still vulnerable. Labour policies can be efficient tools for poverty reduction and the promotion of inclusive growth, by rolling back informal jobs and extending social security to non-wage workers.
Progress in enrolment in primary education in the world has moved the cursor towards a greater attention to the quality of education. The quality of schools is a determinant of inequalities, as shown in the cases of India and South Africa. Discrimination in the access to good schools can be tempered by better information on the quality of schools and by a fairer allocation of resources to schools in poor areas. But inequality roots deeper as it appears in the study of aspirations of children of different social and ethnic background at young ages, as seen in Peru.

Good governance and poverty reduction
Young democracies face a number of challenges such as clientelism, corruption, fraud, vote-buying, which impact on redistribution and poverty reduction. Case studies in Ghana, South Africa and Brazil stress the demand for accountability of citizens. However, this does not prevent bad practices of clientelism and corruption. Rent capture by the elite is a major obstacle to fair distribution policies and is associated with cronyism, which jeopardises the efficiency of social programmes.
Lack of voice is a major cause of poverty. Improving the electoral process gives the poor more voice and has a knock-on effect on redistribution policies. In Brazil, electronic voting has considerably improved participation by the poor and the fairness of elections.
Research on the population’s perception of governance in African countries aims at consolidating survey instruments in order to monitor the governance indicators. The results are used to define targets and indicators for SDG 16 on peace, justice and accountable institutions.

Emerging issues and poverty scenarios
Nopoor also looks at the long term by considering how demographic trends or technological changes contribute to poverty reduction.
The vulnerability of people to shocks is a major concern even in countries where poverty reduction has been successful. We assess the impact of natural disasters on poverty in a study that covers 200 countries, and details which disasters have the worst impact. The poor in poorer countries or in those with weak institutions are more vulnerable to shocks.

Potential Impact:
Nopoor uses a wide range of qualitative and quantitative methods to study poverty in its multiple facets and in many areas: education, governance, social policies, labour markets and working conditions, new technologies, international migration, etc.
Under the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) framework, our research is a cornerstone for the measurement of the new indicators. In the last four years, as results have been obtained, a number of findings have been shown to tie in with SDG indicators.
The research carried out by the multidisciplinary teams is grounded in empirical work. We place great emphasis on data collection and building databases using 18 original surveys of more than 10,000 people in the field in Burkina Faso, Ecuador, India, Peru, Madagascar, Mali, Ghana, Niger, South Africa and Vietnam. We provide new data for the measurement of governance in African countries, segregation in capital cities and indicators of decent work in poor countries.
More than 50 research papers have been produced covering a wide spectrum of the poverty analysis. They are academic articles, working papers and policy briefs. Four training courses have been given over the four-year period attended by more than 100 students and teachers. Up to 85 Master’s students of 23 nationalities have worked on the project, showing its utility in terms of the inclusion of young researchers.
Policy conferences held in Brazil, Brussels, India, Senegal, Paris and Vietnam have discussed the policy implications of our research with a large number of stakeholders such as national politicians, civil society players, academics, local media and international institutions (United Nations, World Bank and OECD). For example, our research highlights how migrants contribute to improving the quality of life of those left at home. Remittances sent by Malian migrants in France are invested in public goods: schools, wells and hospitals.
A list of 700 stakeholders has been drawn up and we are using an array of communication tools to inform them of our results: policy briefs, reports, press releases, brochures and newsletters.
New evidence from the field shows that priorities should be defined by region, country and even domestic socioeconomic divisions. A very important challenge that we constantly advocate is to build a good statistical system able to collect good data, analyse them and set up relevant indicators. With 169 targets for 17 goals, the new SDG framework will definitely need accurate data. Statistical surveys are usually neglected in large political agreements. This issue could become paramount in the future in view of the new SDG framework. On the subject of “governance” in developing countries, the results of our work have been used to harmonise and institutionalise SDG 16 “Governance, Peace and Security (GPS)” statistics in Africa. This is a remarkable extension of Nopoor’s research.
The project highlights the relevance of a North-South research consortium and the role of the EU as a global player in defining poverty reduction policies. The partners from the Southern countries, all engaged for the first time in an EU-funded project, have become devotees of EU action in the field of research.

Dr Xavier Oudin, Researcher, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement

Mrs Delia Visan, Project Manager, University Paris Dauphine

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