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Title: Poverty reduction strategies in Thailand : a comparison of centralized and decentralized approaches
Author: Tanaka, Hiroko
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2005
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Poverty reduction' is often one of the pillars of stated policy goals of decentralization programmes. Decentralization is frequently assumed to facilitate greater participation of poor people, which leads to greater accountability and responsiveness of the government and nonstate service providers. The present study revisits these assumptions through a comparative analysis of poverty reduction programmes in Thailand, which have been designed and implemented through varying degrees of centralization and decentralization. The study finds that the Low-Income Health Card (LIHC) scheme, which has been implemented through a traditional centralized bureaucracy and structure (representing the 'livelihood protection' type of poverty reduction programme), succeeded in reaching the largest number of target beneficiaries, in particular the 'poorest' segment of the population, and received an almost universally favourable beneficiary assessment. On the other hand, several different types of community-based credit programmes (representing the 'livelihood promotion' type of poverty reduction programme), which have been implemented through different types of decentralized structures, rarely reached the 'poorest' people and presented mixed results in the beneficiary assessment. Importantly, however, through the beneficiary assessment of the credit programmes, it was found that people attached great value to all the assumed 'virtues' of decentralization, including participation, ownership, proximity and transparency, which have been achieved through some decentralized programmes implemented in their villages. Several conclusions may be drawn based on the Thai case studies. First, it is necessary to use both centralized and decentralized approaches to poverty reduction service delivery, since these two different delivery mechanisms are appropriate for different types of poverty reduction programmes, which benefit various categories of poor people differently. Second, the distinct needs of the 'poorest' segment of the population may be served better through centralized delivery of 'livelihood protection' services, when the central bureaucracy is reasonably capable of delivering services. Third, other groups of poor people may benefit from 'livelihood promotion' programmes, which may be delivered better through decentralized approaches. These approaches have greater potential to promote such necessary elements for programme success as participation, ownership, and a sense of solidarity among the beneficiaries. However, for decentralized approaches to realize these intended 'virtues', the programme's design and implementation -requires careful examination of local culture, organizational and political structures, as well as the'capacity and experience of the decentralized bodies. One lesson for aid donors from the above may be the need to consider possible trade-offs between poverty reduction objectives and good governance objectives.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available