The Knowledge Management Needs Survey Report will help countries capture, share and capitalise on their adaptation experiences
By Annelies Hickendorff
The AAP regional office was pleasedto release the Knowledge Management Needs Survey Report in May, a broad, research-driven assessment of what AAP countries’ knowledge needs are. The report was produced in order to help these countries capture, share and capitalise on the wealth of climate- and development-related knowledge available.
Why knowledge research is needed
Responses to both climate and non-climate threats to development in Africa are generating a vast and rapidly growing body of information. The potential for this information to provide crucial knowledge in the design and implementation of resilience-boosting strategies across the continent is enormous. But for countries to take full advantage of this opportunity they must be able to capture knowledge and add it to a shared pool from which they can extract high-quality, comprehensive information relevant to their development needs.
The Inter-Regional Technical Support Component of the AAP undertook the 2012 Knowledge Needs Survey in order to help AAP countries to capture, share and capitalise on this knowledge. The resulting Knowledge Management Needs Survey Reportrepresents the first attempt to quantify specific project-wide and country-level knowledge management needs and plans. Through this research AAP projects will be able to pursue data driven agendas and be confident that the initiatives developed as a result reflect a general consensus within the Project Management Units.
What we set out to achieve
The survey was designed to achieve two objectives:
· To identify knowledge needs and gaps, the discovery of which is necessary for understanding of climate change impacts, adaptation barriers and innovative adaptation approaches to be increased, and;
· To identify what type of knowledge products would be most useful for facilitating knowledge exchange on current adaptation practices and lessons learned.
Along with producing a broad overview, a key outcome of the survey was country-level reports offering insight on the needs of each AAP country. These country-level chapters within the Report conclude with recommendations of knowledge management (KM) activities the countries could undertake in 2012.
The survey was undertaken via an online questionnaire, to which staff of AAP national teams, the AAP regional office, UNDP environment units and other national stakeholders were invited through email to respond to. Of the 593 potential respondents contacted 229 compIeted the survey, which was provided in both French and English and accessible from 16 November 2011 to 12 December 2011. The questions varied between multiple choice and open-ended questions.
What we learned
The survey was intended to ascertain AAP countries’ adaptation knowledge needs, with questions about these constructed around six recognised barriers to the implementation of knowledge management: policy, technological, financial, institutional, cultural and behavioural change barriers.
Overall, the answers revealed a uniformly high need for knowledge resources to help with overcoming barriers, especially financial and technological barriers.
With respect to specific climate change impacts, respondents reported the highest needs for knowledge resources that could help address (in decreasing order) water shortages, food security and loss of livelihoods.
The highest level of need expressed the questionnaire was for climate change risk/impact assessments. Nearly as much need was reported for climate data, such as climate scenarios and the results of integrated modelling.
Among the types of knowledge resources relating to specific programmatic phases, the need for evaluation-related information was also strongly expressed. And with regard to knowledge platforms, TeamWorks was the platform reported to be most used.
Recommendations for AAP national teams
On review of the survey results, the Knowledge Management Team considered that AAP countries can work to meet their respective country-level knowledge needs as well as regional knowledge needs through six specific actions. These are:
1. Countries should direct resources towards the knowledge products identified in the report.
2. Countries should clarify in advance the most effective dissemination channels for the designated knowledge products.
3. Clearly delineating knowledge management roles within existing project staff, or hiring dedicated knowledge management consultants, is an important part of this process.
4. Countries should identify opportunities for intra- and inter-country collaborations grouped both by knowledge product type and focus area.
5. Countries should utilise online tools where travel and cost have been identified as barriers. The relative lack of use of online knowledge sharing platforms represents a clear opportunity for coalescing around one or more platforms for collaboration and dissemination.
6. Countries should harness the ability of online platforms to reach an inter-regional and international audience as well as cater to the multitude of knowledge products that are intended to be produced. One way to do this would be to expand the level of access to Teamworks.