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Policy making process in Kenya: get involved, it’s your right and duty

  • By Sarah Makena
  • May 24, 2019
  • 0 Comment

Policy making process in Kenya: get involved, it’s your right and duty

Policy development is not the preserve of a few people. In Kenya the proposal to have a policy could come from the executive and its various entities; political formations; organized groups or even individual citizens. What then this implies is that we cannot just sit and complain believing that we do not have power to influence the policies and regulations in our space. 

The Constitution of Kenya upholds principles of public participation and transparency under Article 10 on National Values and Principles of Governance.  Article 27 asserts equality of everyone before the law as well as the right to equal opportunities before the law. This therefore means that everyone should be involved in decision making on areas of govern menace such as policy. Access to information held by the state is allowed under Article 35 which means all citizens are empowered to obtain information they require, and in this regard on policy and legislation development process. Parliament is also directed by Article 118 of the Constitution to undertake its business in an open manner thereby allowing the public access to its proceedings..  Finally, Article 119 talks about the right of citizens to present any issue before parliament. This could be a petition on a law requiring enactment, amendment or repeal.   From the foregoing, it is apparent that the Constitution offers the foundations necessary to support the involvement of citizens in policy development. 

There has however been transformation in the development of policy over time with the country now moving to evidence-based policy development. This means one needs to back their policy proposals with evidence from research. The policy proposal has to come with evidence on why it is needed; the requisite resources  for its development and implementation; the amount of time it will take to develop the policy; examples of other jurisdictions which have developed a similar policy and what benefits they have derived from such a policy; and the anticipated  benefits of the policy to the sector or sectors it affects.  There has to be information that is well packaged to back the proposed policy showing the outcome of the development. In simple terms, a policy proposal has to be accompanied by a policy brief. 

It is also important to note that policy development in Kenya is now two-fold: both at the national and the county levels of governance. Based on the fourth schedule of the Constitution there are policies under the devolved functions whose mandate lies with the county governments and thus the policy proposal is directed at the relevant county government. On the other hand, there is policy directed at the national government. It is therefore important for us, as citizens, to have a clear understanding of the devolved functions as well as the national functions in order to make it easy when making policy proposals. 

In the development of policy, the government has two institutions that have a responsibility to provide guidance on policy development. That is the Kenya Law Reform Commission (KLRC) and the Kenya Institute of Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA). Citizens are free to approach these organizations for support in policy development especially where they have no understanding or know-how in the development or proposal of policy to relevant institutions. You can find the guides from both instututions here KIPPRA  and KLRC

By Sarah Makena.