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Building State Capacities? The Case of the Poverty Reduction Unit in Mali

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the ability of international organizations to shape and reform African administrations. It highlights the practical implications of buzzwords such as ownership and capacity-building. The chapter builds on the case-study of the technical unit established under the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) in Mali, an aid-dependent country in West Africa. It argues that targeted capacity-building initiatives, embodied by the PRSP unit, have limited impact, particularly when they have to deal with pre-existing institutional features, social relations and competing interests created by the unit itself. The chapter also shows that international support has made unexpected contributions to the process of state formation in Africa. It presents the theoretical framework used to interpret international initiatives aimed at strengthening African states. The chapter provides both an overview of donor approaches to state capacity-building and a critical overview of how the issue has been addressed in the academic literature.

Keywords: capacity-building; Mali; Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP); West Africa



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