The role of research in pro-poor dairy policy shift in Kenya

This working paper forms part of the International Livestock Research Institute’s (ILRI’s) and Overseas Development Institute’s (ODI’s) ‘Process and Partnership for Pro-poor Policy Change’, which seeks to identify and institutionalize innovative research and development mechanisms and approaches that lead to pro-poor policy. 

The paper presents the results of the analysis of policy changes that occurred during and after the implementation of the Smallholder Dairy Project (SDP) in Kenya, a research and development (R&D) project which changed its focus towards achieving a greater impact from their findings on policy makers. It is a remarkable story of evidence-based policy making and an example of the implementation of the RAPID Outcome Assessment option. 

This case study reviewed the policy and institutional changes that occurred in the dairy sector during the lifetime of SDP and examined how and why these changes came about. The approach used is called the Research and Policy in Development Outcome Assessment (RAPID Outcome Assessment or ROA) which combines elements from three well established methodologies, namely:

  1. Episode studies of specific policy changes – tracking back from policy changes to identify key actors, events and influences, and assessing their relative importance.
  2. Case study analysis of specific research projects – tracking forwards from specific research and related activities to assess their impact.
  3. Outcome mapping approaches – identifying changes in behaviour of key actors and analysing what influenced these changes. 

Material was collected through: (i) literature review of project and external documentation, and close interaction with the SDP project team; (ii) a workshop with key SDP staff, collaborating partners and other key actors; (iii) individual interviews with key actors and dairy industry stakeholders at national, district and local levels to triangulate and clarify the workshop outputs; (iv) field visits to farmers, market agents and other key actors; and (v) a debriefing session with the project team to discuss initial case study findings.

This information was assembled into five overlapping narratives:
  • A description of the key organisations and institutions directly involved with setting the policy framework or with SDP (see Section 3.1).
  • A general description of the evolution of the dairy sub-sector in Kenya over the last century (see Section 3.2).
  • A description of the evolution of policies affecting the sub-sector, and their implementation (the ‘Episode Study’ component of the approach; see Section 3.3).
  • A description of what SDP did and why it did it (the ‘Case Study’ element of the approach; see Section 3.4).
  • A description of changes in behaviour of the key actors which contributed to the policy change, and the reasons for these. This corresponds to the ‘Outcome Mapping’ element of the ROA approach. Most of this is based on the results of the workshop triangulated with findings from the interviews (see Section 3.5).



  • Acknowledgements
  • Acronyms
  • Executive summary
  • Introduction
  • Research framework and approach
  • Results: Background, narratives and players
  • Analysis and reflection: What changed and why?
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Appendix 1: Research and Policy in Development Outcome Assessment (ROA) 
  • Appendix 2: Policy Impact Workshop, 22-25 February 2005, Kenya 
  • Appendix 3: List of Interviewees
  • Appendix 4: The RAPID Framework
  • Box, Figures and Tables
  • Box: Summary of relevant evidence supporting policy and institutional reform
  • Figure 1: The behavioural change map
  • Figure 2: Causal factors
  • Figure 3: SDP strategy for communicating research findings
  • Figure 4: Example of Research and Policy in Development Outcome Assessment (ROA) Output
  • Figure 5: The RAPID framework
  • Table 1: Key actors in dairy sector policy in Kenya
  • Table 2: Summary of SDP log frames for the three phases
  • Table 3: SDP timeline and summary of key research activities and policy-influencing events
  • Table 4: Comparative timeline of key events in Kenya’s dairy sector, dairy policy, SDP activities, 
    and external environment
  • Table 5: Behavioural change of key stakeholders


Leksmono, C., Young, J., Hooton, N., Muriuki, H., & Romney, D. International Livestock Research Institute, (2006). Informal traders lock horns with the formal milk industry the role of research in pro-poor dairy policy shift in Kenya (Working Paper 266). Retrieved from Overseas Development Institute website: