Robust public policy process enhances good governance

Public policy development in Kenya is no mean feat, having to work through issues, such as consultations, consensus building and public participation.

Public policy, in whatever form should be aimed at benefiting the common mwananchi and fulfilling Chapter 4—The Bill of Rights—of the Constitution.

For instance, the National Disaster Risk Management Policy was approved in 2017 by the late Interior Cabinet secretary Joseph Nkaissery. The policy which was the second of its kind, was supposed to provide the framework for the development of National Disaster Risk Management Bill to oversee its implementation.

Two years down the line and after extensive stakeholder consultations and massive resources sank in the process, we have ended up with two different bills in Parliament.

As a matter of urgency, it’s about time the country streamlined, integrated and harmonised public policy development to ensure its not hijacked by cartels and rogue government officials pursuing personal interest. Transparent and accountable public policy making process which is clear and open to the public, is an investment that must be made soon, rather than later.

Social accountability structures must be seen to be working for the benefit of Kenyans. It’s imperative that the government sticks to fidelity to the law, where policy formulation and development processes are be beyond reproach.

The government has not deliberately prioritised civic education  yet public participation as envisioned in the Constitution, speaks of the bottom-up approach. Development ideas should come from the mwananchi, who pays taxes.

Even Kenya Revenue Authority slogan speaks to this process; kulipa ushuru ni kujitegemea. It is disheartening for a process to be extensive and rigorous only to be hijacked at the apex, by vested political interests that are short term and aiming to benefit only a few people.

Processes must be respected and adhered to. The fact that the policy making process is lethargic—thanks to supremacy wars between the three arms of the government— the civil society has found solace along the corridors justice, thereby reinventing the wheel; policy development by litigation.

With the advent of devolution, public policy processes were extended to the county level. Regional interests should be divested to the structures in the counties, where they can be customised to meet the peculiar needs of locals at the grassroots.  Strengthening county governance structures will also go a long way in strengthening devolution.

Consensus building, public consultation and participation must move from becoming issues of rhetoric to being issues which can be evaluated thereby enriching public processes. Open governance system is the only surest way to enhance support to the government and breath legitimacy into public policy making processes.

The writer is Resilience and Knowledge management officer, Children’s Mission Africa

This article first appeared in Peoples daily Newspaper