Status of county adoption of national level policies on climate governance in select counties in Kenya

Mugambi, Joy Kawira
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Strathmore University
Climate change is the biggest global environmental threat largely attributed to human activity as well as classic market failures of allocation, control and use of natural resources. Climate governance lays out modalities through which institutional interests are articulated, coordinated and negotiated, through formal and informal mechanisms for sustainable development. For Kenya domestication of policies in counties started after the 2013 devolution. This study examined the status of county adoption of National level policies on climate governance. It used a mixed scanning model informed by the political economy theory and systems theory to examine the extent of policy domestication, existing county climate governance structures, institutional capacity, barriers and enablers to climate governance. It involved primary data collection through key informants, and secondary data review for five target counties in Kenya involved in climate governance projects, with a variation of arid and semi-arid regions. It utilized both qualitative and quantitative methods and applied a descriptive-analytical approach. Results indicate low to medium policy domestication rates, low policy domestication capacities given lack of climate change units, low staffing capacities, limited technical knowledge, low access to climate finance, technology transfer, and limited private-sector engagements. This study concludes that political economy is salient to climate governance and supports previous findings that asymmetric power relations and low capacity for negotiations of climate finance and technological transfer characterizes climate governance in the Global South. Weak or non-existent governance institutions seven years into devolution perpetuates lack of citizen agency and slow policy domestication. Counties should prioritize overarching policy that then gives guidance to lower-level sector policies, e.g., in agriculture, energy for coherence and synergies, followed by selection of policy alternatives based on policy packages that deliver optimum outcomes. Technical and financial support, peer pressure and political goodwill contribute to policy adoption. Regional Economic Blocs can be targeted for policy domestication support for greater bargaining and negotiation power, and optimal outcomes. Deliberate efforts should be put in place to establish and operationalize county climate governance structures.
Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Public Policy and Management at Strathmore University
Climate governance, Policy domestication, Climate policy adoption, Diffusion.