CBTFinal.doc - Community Based Targeting Mechanisms for...

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Community Based Targeting Mechanisms for Social Safety Nets Jonathan Conning Michael Kevane ** December, 2000 Summary. -- This paper interprets case studies and theory on community involvement in beneficiary selection and benefit delivery for social safety nets. Several considerations should be carefully balanced in assessing the advantages of using community groups as targeting agents. First, benefits from utilizing local information and social capital may be eroded by costly rent- seeking. Second, the potential improvement in targeting criteria from incorporating local notions of deprivation must be tempered by the possibility of program capture by local elites, and by the possibility that local preferences are not pro-poor. Third, performance may be undermined by unforeseen strategic targeting by local communities in response to national funding and evaluation criteria, or by declines in political support. Keywords: poverty alleviation; targeting; safety net; political economy; community; welfare. ** Williams College, Department of Economics, Williamstown, MA and Institute for Economic Development, Boston University. [email protected] ; Santa Clara University, Department of Economics, Santa Clara, CA 95053. [email protected] (corresponding author). We would like to extend our thanks to Harold Alderman, Pranab Bardhan, John Blomquist, Henry Bruton, Michael Cernea, Nora Dudwick, John Giles, Margaret Grosh, William Jack, Emmanuela Galasso, Eric Hanson, Simon Harrigan, Daniel Klein, Alexandre Marc, Jessica Mott, Akbar Noman, Albert Park, Tamara Perkins, Ashok Rai, Vivajendra Rao, Gustav Ranis, Martin Ravallion, Mary E. Schmidt, Endre Stiansen, William Sundstrom and participants at a World Bank workshop for providing input, suggestions and material. Nishant Nayyer provided able research assistance.
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Introduction Social safety nets can serve an important role in alleviating poverty and in promoting long-term growth by providing households with the protection that markets and informal networks may not supply. A social safety net may redistribute resources toward disadvantaged groups, or sustain political coalitions to support critical structural reforms. Unfortunately, the growing awareness of the importance social safety nets in developing countries has not been translated into effective action because of the failure of traditional social welfare ministries to effectively reach and engage the poor. This has led to experimentation with new bottom-up service delivery options and poverty alleviation mechanisms that more actively involve the poor and their communities in program design, implementation and monitoring. Examples include reforms that decentralize the delivery of public services to local governments, community management of forests and other natural resources, and group-based microcredit programs. Demand-driven social funds that aim by design to elicit community involvement have become increasingly popular with governments and donors, and
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