Exciting developments for IKM emergent in West Africa?

Working Group 3 is trying to understand how to bring about a more strategic approach to Knowledge Management and what experiences have tried to reduce knowledge gaps between development actors.

In the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene sector, a number of organisations have been trying, over the past few years, to promote resource centres – independent providers of information services to support all sector stakeholders. In carrying out scoping for its activities in West Africa, IRC has recently taken notice of incredible demand (and indeed funding) to develop the function of Resource Centres to help document experiences and knowledge, to synthetise them and to help better coordinate efforts.

The importance of strategic sector learning is gaining recognition and there is a chance that IRC and partners’ work in West Africa provides a great avenue for IKM emergent to collect fresh insights on demand for strategic Knowledge Management and its concrete coordination. Resource Centre development and ‘capitalisation’ are the drivers of the programme, and offer opportunities to carry out interesting research for IKM emergent. This work also involves an interesting linguistic challenge as activities are taking place in Benin, Burkina Faso and Ghana.

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2 Responses

  1. Salut Ewen!

    Great to hear from you ~ nice posting! In the upcoming scoping study the issue of ‘capitalisation’ and francophone (or Latin) versus Anglo-Saxon KM (or should I say ‘GC’) are addressed. We aim to complete it by the end of the year… (and you are quoted in it) 😉

    It would be interesting to hear more about some of the concrete experiences you have had in view of the work you’re undertaking there, in the context of the direction you identify above. And any thoughts on those ‘linguistic challenges’?

    Do share with us! =)

  2. To answer your questions – at a late hour as I am only now back from Burkina Faso:

    The concrete experiences we have had in the past years in West Africa have been to help some partner organisations to act as resource centres – independent providers of information products and services – though we focused really on internal organisational management. With little seed money, we have achieved only limited results, mostly a recognition of the importance of resource centres and the development of some basic services (Q&A helpdesk, digital library etc.).

    5 years later, in a number of countries we have visited, we notice that ministries, NGOs and CBOs are looking for the services of resource centres and actually recognise that our partners could play that role. As much as it was a good surprise to see the IKM emergent programme funded, it is great to see that there is a demand from a number of stakeholders to get IKM services coordinated in the country. The sector-wide approach and donor coordination movements are pushing in that direction too.

    As a result, we will start a thorough investigation of IKM practices and previous attempts at setting up resource centres, to identify other organisations that would like to be part of the resource centre network, in Benin and maybe in Burkina Faso too. More will come on this in the first 6 months of 2008.

    The linguistic challenge is for us to bring anglophone and francophone West Africa to hear about each other’s experiences. Ghanaians confess they are not interested in learning French, francophone West Africans are struggling with English. And of course, in Ghana, Burkina Faso and Benin, the most effective language is sometimes neither English nor French, but Twi, Moore, Fon or any other of the 70 or so tribal languages available among these countries.

    In an age when we are trying to put knowledge sharing at a global scale, the sharing of knowledge between linguistic groups is a key challenge that we will be grappling with, and I hope this will also enlighten our research in IKM emergent…

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