The role of non-state actors in public policy formulation in Kenya: The case of national disaster risk reduction Policy
Ochanda, Loise Asewe
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Policy formulation is a critical phase of the public policy process when goals, priorities and options of a policy are decided by a small group of experts. Although public policy formulation is in the domain of the government, the role of non-state actors has become apparent and significant. This study established that non-state agents acting as a policy network contributed to formulation of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Policy in Kenya. The process was coordinated and managed by the former Ministry of State for Special Programmes. A descriptive qualitative case study design was employed to examine the collective role played by the non-state actors in formulation of the Disaster Risk Reduction Policy. Advocacy Coalitions Framework approach was used as a theoretical framework to assess their structure and contribution in this process. This study considered non-state actors as a policy subsystem as opposed to analysing individual contributions. Data was collected in Nairobi from June - August 2013 using semistructured questionnaires, interviews, informal conversations and analysis of secondary documents. In consultation with the former Ministry of State for Special Programmes 21 organisations were selected through a non-random sampling technique. These were organisations whose participation was consistent and were considered most useful respondents. The study aimed at identifying types of non-state actors that participated in formulation of the Disaster Risk Reduction Policy, establish the nature of their contribution and examine factors that affected their engagement. Data was analysed with the aid of Microsoft Excel. The study established that the main categories of non-state participants were intergovernmental organisations, international non-governmental organisations, national non-governmental organisations, universities, research institutions/think tanks and consultancy firms. The Ministry of State for Special Programmes remained the lead actor coordinating and controlling the process. Intergovernmental and international non-governmental organisations were the majority of the non-state actors. Even though the groups of non-state actors could be likened to a policy subsystem, Disaster Risk Reduction actors can be termed as a nascent as opposed to a mature subsystem. According to findings NSAs contributed in policy formulation through funding, research and data analysis, technical support and lobbying policy makers. Inadequate political will, interruption by political processes, high turnover rates among non-state actors, weak strategies for policy engagement were some of the key challenges facing non-state actors as they engaged in public policy formulation. Use of evidence, capacity building on national policy processes and disaster risk reduction, existence of an international policy framework on Disaster Risk Reduction were the main -facilitating factors. The study recommends that the Government of Kenya should build capacity of non-state actors in public policy processes to enhance their effectiveness in public policy engagement. Non-state actors on the other hand need to act as a coalition, incorporate informal approaches into formal processes, allocate funds for their participation, conduct targeted sustained lobbying and use evidence during their engagement in public policy formulation.