Economic Development

World Development Report 2004
by Shanta Devarajan, Ritva Reinikka

The World Development Report is the annual flagship publication from the World Bank. The 2004 edition focuses on making public services work for poor people., presenting a thorough examination of programmes designed to supply health, education, and public utility services in developing regions throughout the world.

Recognizing the formidable challenges posed in reaching the goal of providing effective services for poor citizens, a framework is proposed for making public services more effective and for ensuring that they are targeted directly at those areas that are most in need. The report emphasizes the need to include program beneficiaries in this process by broadening their choice and participation in the delivery of these services.

By putting poor people at the center of service delivery, the goal is to make these services more effective for both the service providers and the service beneficiaries. While tangible results can be measured in terms of overall economic growth, the most important criteria for determining the success of these programmes is the extent to which they make it possible for service recipients to escape poverty.

Creating a framework of relationships among clients, providers, and policymakers increases the voice of poor citizens in making these services work better. While acknowledging that there is no single solution that meets the needs of every situation, improved access to information represents one of the most powerful means available to poor citizens in helping them to achieve the goals set forth in the World Development Report 2004.

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About the Author

Shanta Devarajan is the Chief Economist for the Africa Region at the World Bank. Since joining the institution in 1991, he has previously served as Principal Economist and Research Manager for Public Economics in the Development Research Group, and the Chief Economist of the Human Development Network, and of the South Asia Region. He is the author and co-author of more than 100 publications covering a wide range of issues from public economics, trade policy, natural resources and the environment, and general equilibrium modeling of developing countries. A native of Sri Lanka, Devarajan received a BA in mathematics from Princeton University and completed a PhD in economics at the University of California, Berkeley before joining the faculty of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

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