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• According to Concise Oxford Dictionary, Oxford
University Press, a Policy is “an agreed
position, and/or a course of general plan
of action to be followed by government,
party or individual”.
• A policy represents an agreed formula for
meeting the needs and aspirations of a
segment, group, company, government or
individual and acknowledges the specific
needs of these.
Definition continued
• For example the Commonwealth Youth
Programme defines a national youth policy as “a
practical demonstration and declaration of the
priority and directions that a country intends
giving to the development of its young women and
men. A national youth policy specifically
represents a gender-inclusive statement that
encapsulates the elements of vision, framework
and realistic guidelines from which strategies and
initiatives can be developed to facilitate
meaningful youth participation and development
within a country”.
Definition continued

• Another example is an HIV/AIDS work policy which

defines an organization’s position and practices for
preventing HIV transmission and for handling HIV
infection among employees. The policy in the
workplace provides guidance to supervisors who deal
with the day-to-day issues and problems that arise in
the workplace. The policy also informs employees
about their responsibilities, rights and expected
behaviour on the job.
• We can therefore talk of policies for several issues
such as economic policy, monetary policy, social
policy, agriculture policy, environmental policy,etc.
Policy making
• Policy Making is a course of action dealing
with a problem or matter of concern and
occurs within a web of interacting forces
• In government, policy making is the process
by which governments translate their
political vision into programs and actions to
deliver outcomes
• Policy making has a number of features: is
– Strategic – looking ahead and contributes to long-term goals
– Outcome-focused- aims to deliver desired changes in the
real world
– Joined up- works across organizational boundaries
– Inclusive – is fair and takes into account of the interests of
– Flexible and innovative – tackles causes and not symptoms
and is not afraid of experimentation
– Robust – stands the test of time and is practical from the
• The process of developing, approving, and
implementing policies differs from country to
country and from issue to issue
• However some underlying processes are common
to most efforts
• A better understanding of the processes will make
us understand the skills that are required to
facilitate policy formulation and achieve better
policy outcomes
Sources of policy
• There are several sources of policy. These are things
that become issues and form the agenda and decision
for policy formulation and they include:
– Circumstances such as natural disasters, wars, depression,
economic and industrial development, population increase,
HIV/AIDS, industrial relations, technological or agricultural
– Research and intelligence- what should be done in the light
of new evidence
– Public opinions
– Political agenda
– Professional and political parties
– Opinion polls
– International trends
Policymaking process

Understand the problem

Testing success and making it work Developing solutions

Putting solutions into effect

Policy formulation skills
• Strategic Management Skills
– Vision focusing – there must always be
orientation towards the future
– Environmental analysis- there should be focus
to the ever changing environmental situation
including technology, politics, the economy,
social dimension and the natural environment
– Fitting the organization into the environment by
looking at the internal weaknesses and
• Stakeholder analysis- stakeholders:
– Are people who are affected by the impact of an
– Are people who can influence the impact of an
– Include user groups, interest groups,
beneficiaries, decision-makers and those people
who are excluded from the decision-making
• The policy formulator should be able to clearly
• PRIMARY STAKEHOLDERS - are the ones who
benefit from or are adversely affected by an activity.
Describes people whose well-being may be dependent
on a resource or service or area the policy addresses.
– If it’s a project, these are the people who live in the area or
very near the area of the resource in question
– They are usually vulnerable
– They are the reason for the policy or project
– They often have few options when faced with change and
have difficulties adapting
people and institutions with interest in the policy
or in case of a project, the resources or area being
– They are the means by which the policy/project
objectives can be met rather than an end in themselves
• Stakeholder analysis is a useful tool for
identifying the stakeholder and describing the
nature of their stake, roles and interests
• Stake holder analysis helps to:
– Improve the policy formulators’ understanding of the needs of
those affected by the problem
– Reveals how little the policy makers know as outsiders and
encourages those who know to participate
– Identify potential winners and losers as a result of the policy
– Reduce or hopefully remove potential negative policy impact
– Identify those who have the rights, interests, resources, skills
and abilities to take part in and influence the course of the
– Identify useful alliances which can be built upon
– Identify and reduce risks which might involve identifying
possible conflicts of interest and expectation among the
• Through stakeholder analysis the policy
maker will be able to undertake a force-
field analysis and understand how the
encouraging forces and resisting forces can
be dealt with
• SURVEYING SKILLS – good quality policy
will depend on the quality of information that is
• Policy formulators should therefore have skills in
both qualitative and quantitative research
• In addition, the policy formulators should have
skills in evaluation of previous policies, new
research, existing statistics and getting information
from several sources of information
designed to answer a number of “what if”
questions relevant to the policy
• The ‘what if’ refers to factors that can be changed
or influenced by the policy
• Models are commonly computerized when
analysts need to see the likely results of two or
more variables on the outcomes of the policy
• ADVOCACY SKILLS – This will start with
identification of the stakeholders and doing the
force-field analysis
• Policies need political support and will and
minimizing opposition
• Policy formulators need to have clear knowledge
of how the policy process work in each country so
that they are able to mobilize resources needed for
implementation of the policy
• Skills for Accessing Information On-line
• Project Management Skills- the policy
formulators need these skills so that they
are able to understand the costs and benefits
of the policy and that implementation of the
policy is adequately monitored and
• The challenge for the policy formulator is that it is
not possible to have all these skills in one
individual. Therefore the policy formulator needs
to have skills in
– working as a team to coordinate the different experts
who are involved in the formulation process
– Calling and conducting presentations to a variety of
audiences in order to solicit views during the
consultation stage
• The policy formulator must have among others the
following skills:
– Understanding the context
– Managing complex relationships and synthesizing and
absorbing huge amounts of information quickly and accurately
– Well developed presentation skills
– Grounding in economics, statistics and relevant scientific
disciplines so as to act as an intelligent customer for complex
– Familiarity with project planning management and evaluation
– Willingness to experiment and take risks
– Willingness to learn new skills and acquire new knowledge
throughout their career in policy formulation
Discussion Question
• Suppose you are a policy formulator and analyst and you
have observed that many companies are discharging their
affluent directly into streams and rivers. You have also
observed that the increasing use of agricultural chemicals
including the leaching of fertilizers has been one of the
greatest challenges for water pollution in your country.
• As a policy formulator, who do you think will be your
stakeholders and what will be the areas of interest. What
problems would you expect.
• What issues would you take into account as you formulate
the policy?