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Understanding the political economy of knowledge interchange between the scientists and policy makers in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector in Nigeria.

IWRA World Water Congress 2017 - Cancun Mexico
1. Water, sanitation and health
Author(s): Emmanuel Akpabio
Emmanuel Akpabio
University of Uyo

Keyword(s): Science-policy interface, WaSH performance, public health, Nigeria


Water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) services are critical public health issues, which are best handled by the State through public financing, service delivery and regulatory mechanisms. But how do State agents or policy makers cooperate with scientists in addressing WaSH challenges in Nigeria? This paper examines the relationship between scientists and policy makers in relation to water, sanitation and hygiene management in Nigeria from the prism of the political economy. The study depended on elaborate and secondary review of institutional arrangements and process mechanisms for the production and communication of scientific knowledge/data in the policy domain. Much emphasis was paid on the political interests/commitments, economic incentives and the enabling platforms for transmitting available scientific data into the policy domains as well as the extent of utilization of such data in framing enabling policies in the WaSH sector. Additional methods of data collection came from the researcher's fieldwork experiences in the WaSH sector and indepth interviews of relevant interests. The study also benefitted from discussions from two public lectures delivered by the researcher at the University of Uyo (May 31st and June 21st 2016 respectively) on this theme. The two public lectures attracted top government and policy makers in the WaSH sector, academics, students and members of the civil society groups. Findings demonstrate extremely poor relationship between the scientists and policy makers reflecting in poor utilization of scientific data in framing public policies on WaSH matters. Most WaSH policies tend to be driven from dominant international agenda with minimal or no inputs from the local scientists. Politics of service, economic interests of public servants and a lack of capacity at individual, institutional and science domains theoretically and empirically accounted for the observed findings. It is argued that the inability of WaSH related policies to benefit from local scientific inputs potentially limits progress in achieving and evolving local solutions to WaSH challenges in Nigeria in particular and sub-Saharan Africa in general.

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