THE NEED FOR STAKEHOLDERS’ INVOLVEMENT IN POLICY PROCESS
Policy process can be conceived as a systematic procedure that involves pertinent problem identification, selection of mechanisms to tackle the problem, development of institutions to manage the operation and designing of strategy to measure and evaluate the activities. This underscores the fact that policy design is innovative, procedural and engaging. Moreover, central to the several stages of policy process is the involvement of people. This is because policies will always have direct or indirect effects on the people. Thus, it is germane to get the people involved in the process. This therefore brings to the fore the subject of stakeholders’ participation.
Who are stakeholders?
Stakeholders are individuals or organisations who have a stake in a particular policy or would be affected by the policy action. Stakeholders can be categorized on the basis of several parameters such as involvement/participation, benefits, portfolio, influence etc. The crux however is that they are significant to the policy process.
Why should stakeholders be involved in policy design?
1. It helps to identify the real problems
Many a time, problems are assumed for the people. This leads to discrepancies between the people and the intervention and can consequently lead to policy somersault. A valid way to address this is to engage the stakeholders in a bid to identify what the real problem is and as well provide helpful information and expertise that can aid the process.
2. It fosters co-production of knowledge
No one knows it all. Governments, research agencies, individuals, non-governmental organisations etc. cannot claim a monopoly of knowledge. Thus, when stakeholders are creatively engaged, there will be robust generation of knowledge and insightful contributions can as well be gathered.
3. To earn trust and support
Many policies are perceived to be laden with selfish biases and political gimmicks. A helpful way to curtail this impression is to engage the different stakeholders that will be directly or indirectly affected by the project. For instance in the study conducted by PiLAF with respect to the ban on importation of maize, it was discovered that many people are not aware of the essence of the ban, they only perceived it to be a discomfort. This could have been curbed maximally if different stakeholders have been involved in the process and they are equally empowered to carry the people along about the government’s intervention.
4. To engender continuity
Processes, methods and projects by themselves are not sustainable. It takes people to ensure the sustainability of processes, methods and projects. It is therefore imperative that stakeholders are involved in the design of the policies that affect them in order for such policies to be sustainable.
5. To create awareness
Awareness fosters usage. It is what the people are aware of that they can use. Unfortunately, many people are not aware of some government’s policies thereby resulting in poor adoption. In the study conducted by PiLAF, it was observed that the level of awareness of the Shika layer breed is very low. This could have been averted if there was proper and robust stakeholder’s engagement. (You can access the policy brief via https://pilafui.org/policies/awareness-and-perception-of-poultry-farmers-on-agricultural-policies-in-nigeria1)
A major contributory factor to success of the policy process is stakeholder’s engagement. It is therefore pertinent that the right stakeholders be involved at every stage of the policy process.
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