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Knowledge management: building capacity in ACP regions

April 30, 2015

The term “knowledge management” has been used for many years. Even though the term and concept have been used widely by the private sector it has a different perspective in the development world. Krishan Bheenick, Senior programme Coordinator at CTA, explains how this concept is understood by CTA and how the Centre helps partners apply a knowledge management framework to their work.

Krishan600oookQ:  One of CTA’s three strategic goals is to enhance ACP organisations’ capacity in information, communication and knowledge management for agricultural and rural development. How is this being achieved?

CTA focuses on the development of learning resources and training of trainers. We support regional organisations by strengthening their knowledge management (KM) capabilities to achieve regional objectives. KM also involves good practice in information and communication management; CTA  already has a well-established tradition of supporting this through our publications, web-based platforms, and support to regional thematic activities.

Q: Isn’t knowledge management a topic that has already been well covered?

The  term  ‘knowledge  management’  has  been  around for over 20 years and is interpreted in different ways. However, we now increasingly recognise the value of tacit knowledge – knowledge developed internally through experience – as an important asset to any organisation or community. CTA and its partners are developing learning resources that take into consideration this evolving understanding of KM.

We are flooded with literature from the business world about how KM can generate profits for a company. In the development sector, we promote knowledge-sharing to build social capital, based on collaborative knowledge creation and sharing. Consultations with ACP institutions and international partner organisations have guided the development of CTA's KM interventions. We now have an integrated framework to assess knowledge management within organisations, networks and communities, identify needs for good practices in KM and plan capacity-strengthening activities.

Q: What are the latest developments in knowledge management at CTA?

In 2014-2015, CTA is bringing together several KM-elated resources which reflect its integrated KM framework. A number of regional organisations have already applied the framework to their work, starting with a 'knowledge scan' which identifies appropriate interventions. CTA will support these organisations in planning and implementing good practices in KM, including the passing on of these practices to organisations' national partners. Studies commissioned by CTA on KM processes which support policy processes and value chain development will be validated by stakeholders and will serve as guidelines for future KM work.

Using the collective wisdom of KM experts, CTA has designed and developed curricula for short courses to (re-)introduce KM for agricultural and rural development. Courses include a 2-hour side event for high level policy meetings and conferences; a 2-day course for senior management of institutions; and a 5-day introductory course for new KM practitioners. These curricula will be easily accessible under creative commons licensing.

CTA, together with 13 other organisations, has also developed free & Open Source e-learning materials as part of the Information Management Resource Kit (IMARK). New modules on mobile services for development and experience capitalisation are under development.

To support the community of practice on KM4ARD, CTA is working alongside global initiatives such as CIARD, GODAN and KM4DEV to highlight resources which can help ACP organisations adopt good practices in KM. These resources on KM, as well as those developed by CTA, are available on our website. We are at the point where KM4ARD can be picked up and incorporated by ACP organisations and policy makers. My hope is to hear more examples of how good practice in KM is behind each success story of ACP organisations.

Learn more about CTA's project to strengthen methodologies, skills and tools for knowledge management.