AN EVALUATION OF COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES USED BY KENYA COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION AND WILDLIFEDIRECT TO INFLUENCE PUBLIC POLICY AND DEBATE

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ABSTRACT
The objective of this study was to carry out an evaluation of communication strategies used by Kenya Community Development Foundation and WildlifeDirect to advance public policy debate. The study‘s specific objectives were to establish communication activities carried out by KCDF and WildlifeDirect to facilitate public policy debate, to analyse the contribution of social media to public policy debate advanced by KCDF and WildlifeDirect, to determine the extent to which coalitions/ constituency facilitates public policy debate advanced by KCDF and WildlifeDirect and to investigate the influence of mass media on public policy debate advanced by KCDF and WildlifeDirect. The study was informed by participatory communication theory and the policy cycle process model. The research design adopted was qualitative approach. The data was generated through review of documents from KCDF, WildlifeDirect, media publications, partner organisations, government agencies mainly Kenya Wildlife Service and publicly available government documents. Findings indicated that communication strategies have the ability to significantly influence public policy debate because the government cannot ignore heightened public sentiments without losing credibility. In addition, the Constitution of Kenya provides an important reference in public policy engagement. Findings also revealed that building coalitions/constituency was the main strategy used to advance public policy debate by both KCDF and WildlifeDirect. Evidence based awareness was also widely used by both organisations while their use of social media, mass media, spokesperson/champion and events differed significantly. The study concluded that communication strategies used by Kenya Community Development Foundation and WildlifeDirect contributed to and had significant influence on public policy debate. The study recommends use of communication strategies to influence public policy debate based on an organisation‘s sphere of influence, operation context and target audience. The study also recommends establishment of forums to collaborate in creating awareness campaign or to jointly create an awareness campaign to ensure that there is a unified force across all those in the sector and take advantage of diverse spheres of influences

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