Previous attempts at formulating written strategies for reducing poverty (such as the Policy Framework Paper) had resulted in almost the entire document's being drafted by the IFI in question (Piron & Evans, 2004). The PRSP differs in that it must be drafted by the country hoping to receive the grant or debt cancellation. Ownership can be called into question on more than one level. First, ownership by the local government can be questioned because of the nature of the document. The fact that grants and debt cancellations are dependent on its completion and approval by the IFI raises doubts as to whether the policies represented will originate with and reflect the needs of the recipient government and not the donor groups. Doubts also arise concerning the extent to which the nation as a whole may be said to own the PRSP, as internal frictions and disjointedness within the levels of government as well as between and among local non-governmental organisations may also prevent the document's being representative of the different levels and sections of society.
The meaning of the term "participation" is also relevant in the consideration of ownership of PRSP's. Participation can range from cursory and superficial consultation of the local governments on the one hand, to (on the other hand) the empowerment of that government by entrusting it with a decision-making part in the process. The idea is that those affected by the policies should have influence in the PRSP's creation. According to the definition given by the World Bank, participation should involve a wide cross-section of the interested groups, including the donors, but especially including all levels of the local government, NGO's, the private sector, trade unions, academia, and the public at large (Stewart & Wang, 2003, p. 8). In addition to such breadth of involvement, these groups should be given as heavy a hand in decision-making to grant them also a great depth of involvement. The level at which participation occurs in drafting of the PRSP, according to this definition, should give an indication into the level of ownership that the nation has of the document.
By now, several countries have adopted the task of constructing PRSP's and have reached one stage or another of completion. Up to the end of 2003, 78 PRSP's had been produced (Stewart & Wang, 2003, p. 3), and that number has now increased by the completion of several that were then in progress. By taking a look at the dimensions that indicate national ownership of a PRSP and carefully assessing aspects of this process as undertaken by a number of these nations, it is possible to make a judgement about how far extensive participation leads to ownership of PRSP's in these specific countries.
Conditionality has largely been seen as a deterrent to the ownership of programmes by local governments and largely a source of disempowerment to them (Stewart & Wang, 2003, p. 2). Though PRSP's were designed to minimise the element of conditionality in the drafting of such papers, it is possible that the influence of these IFI's are still strong enough to cause an unofficial but similar effect. Joint Staff Assessments (JSA), prepared as a combined effort of the staffs of the IMF and World Bank, are designed to appraise the progress of the PRSP's in order