Network strengthening for policy influencing : a case study of Kenya’s Africa Adaptation Programme (AAP) of the United Nations Development Programme
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As researchers provide compelling evidence pointing to climate change, governments and civil society actors are getting stimulated to act and reverse the negative impacts of extreme climate change. The impact of climate change on Kenya is profound and staggering. It is estimated that Kenya’s landmass is 582,350 km2, of which only 17% is arable, with 83% consisting of semi-arid and arid land. Climate change and human activities are resulting in desertification and increasing total semi-arid and arid land. Researchers further estimate that 17% of Mombasa or 4600 hectares of the region’s land area will be submerged as a result of sea-level rise. This situation demands policy actions to combat the situation. As developing countries wade into combating climate change, the government of Kenya is implementing far reaching polices to fight climate change including its 2006 water quality regulation and 2009 regulation of wetlands, riverbanks, lakeshore and sea management regulations of 2009. In addition, development partners such as the UNDP and civil society actors working on climate change have played a critical role complementing government policy actions. Working through the Africa’s Adaptation Programme (AAP), civil society organizations (CSOs) are participating in agenda setting, and increasing awareness that promote climate change adaptation through civic engagement. Civic engagement serves as an important tool for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to promote a more effective response to the hazardous effects of extreme climate change. Despite this, researchers and policy analyst argue that civil societies work within the environmental sector is not based on rigorous research, their actions are uncoordinated, and outcomes are poorly communicated. As a focal point, this report examined how CSOs organize around key policy issues and work through the AAP to set the agenda and influence climate change policymaking in Kenya. The study is based largely on an evaluation of secondary data sources including websites, Programme documents and academic articles. I also benefited from a summer internship at UNDP offices in Nairobi in 2010. The study explored how AAP is professionalizing and how that increases its leverage and strengthens NGOs to actively participate in policy influencing. The study summarizes scattered pieces of information into one report to enhance the AAP’s database building efforts. Finally, this serves as resource for CSOs policy engagement in Kenya and beyond. Overall, the report reveals that the AAP is bridging ties between CSOs working within the climate change sector by bringing them under one umbrella. This social bonding behavior serves as social capital to influence policy. However to increase leverage for effective policy engagement, the AAP needs to incrementally apply rigorous evidenced based research to generate more compelling information that transforms policies. It further suggests commercializing clean energy technologies by charging affordable rates for deploying such infrastructure to households. Finally, using policy entrepreneurs can dramatically improve policy advocacy in Kenya.