Knowledge management workshop reinforces capacity for improved knowledge sharing
By Bayano Valy
Pictured: Awa Faly Ba and Fatimata Barro Kirakoya at the AAP’s knowledge management workshop in Maputo.
Close to 50 communications and knowledge management staff from 17 AAP countries met in Maputo in early May to learn and develop techniques for improved knowledge sharing. The five-day knowledge management workshop, entitled ‘Capitalisation of Experiences on Climate Change Adaptation’, was organised by the AAP regional office and hosted by AAP Mozambique.
The stated ambition of the workshop was to foster the emergence of a regional critical mass of knowledge management practitioners through the consolidation of country’s individual and institutional capacities. For this to happen, the information and knowledge generated by different countries and programmes must be codified and shared so that it can then be tailored to fit the specific needs of researchers, decision-makers, local communities and the private sector.
Japanese Ambassador to Mozambique Eiji Hashimoto opened the workshop on 7 May, saying he hoped his country’s support would help create a ‘resilient society’ in Africa. The AAP is funded through a US$92.6 million grant from Japan.
‘The African Adaptation Programme will enable the 20 countries involved to capture knowledge and lessons learned and create a new learning environment where countries exchange information, see what lessons were learned from other countries and take advantage of them to improve their own programmes in order to tackle climate change,’ said Hashimoto.
UN Mozambique Resident Coordinator Jennifer Topping, who spoke after Hashimoto, said a key strategic priority of the UN was to rally countries to plan and act together in tackling climate change.
‘Aligning human development and ongoing efforts in the field of climate change, promoting mitigation, adaptation and disaster management activities, can prevent negative impacts on current and future generations, which will otherwise occur with greater frequency and severity and may reverse development and gains achieved through lots of effort,’ said Topping.
‘We recognise that there’s a need to manage knowledge and capacity at a national level to draft, finance, implement and monitor development strategies that promote resilience to climate change.’
Mozambique’s Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs Ana Paulo Chichavo said the floods, tropical cyclones and droughts her country is prone to will be exacerbated by climate change.
‘The Mozambican government...is focusing its efforts on the identification and implementation of measures for the strengthening of early warning systems and creation of capacity to respond to natural disasters as well as the human capacity to immediately respond to communities' resilience needs.’
AAP Programme Manager Ian Rector said that although the AAP was a continent-wide programme its knowledge management work illustrated how it did not take a one-size-fits-all approach.
‘The countries will probably achieve similar outcomes, but it’s the way in which they’ll achieve those outcomes that’s different. They’ll use the knowledge from other countries to adapt to their own situations.’
He said when the project winds down in December 2012, each country should have created greater capability to design and implement comprehensive programmes to enhance development through management of both climate and disaster risk. He added that regional knowledge management capabilities would help countries get more out of the project funding available.
‘What we’re telling countries is to view the outputs of the AAP as inputs for any other programmes that they are going to implement. It doesn’t need to be a second phase of the AAP. What we’re trying to do is to develop a whole range of capacities so that participating countries can design even better programmes for the future and that all the learnings from the AAP are utilised to improve the way they do things in the future.’
Recognising the value of traditional knowledge
The AAP’s Knowledge Management Needs Survey Report was launched on day two of the workshop by José Levy, AAP Knowledge Management Expert and the workshop convener. Jose said the research undertaken for the Report revealed a great demand by AAP countries for the development of knowledge management capabilities.
‘They’re anxious to develop knowledge management strategies. Countries are anxious to develop national platforms that they can use to share and disseminate information.’
A key point discussed at the workshop is the limited ability of many countries to gather and distribute information geographically. ‘Most of the technology is based in urban centres and is deficient in rural settings,’ said Levy.
In response there was recognition of the need to not be dependent on modern technology and to access and utilise traditional methods of sharing knowledge and information.
‘Make greater use of methods that are not internet-based, such as the promotion of locally-based knowledge and other types of knowledge-sharing methods such as regular meetings,’ said Levy.
Perspectives shared on knowledge gained
The call from the workshop facilitators to create a strong system for the exchange, dissemination, and codification of climate change and development knowledge seems to have been heeded by the participants.
Ermias Haile of Ethiopia said the workshop would enable him to plan international sharing of knowledge.
‘We were able to know what has been going around in other countries, what are our shared experiences and how can we purposely share them with other members. I found it to be very, very practical,’ he said.
‘I found that, whatever we call it, local knowledge is perceived the same way.’
Senegalese climate change expert Boubacar Fall said that the workshop had allowed him to understand how to capitalise on the project he is working on.
‘The methodology used is pertinent, each country can obtain outcomes that reflect the reality of each country, thus each country can share its outcomes with others,’ he said.
‘Knowledge sharing is important because it can lend durability; those countries with longer experience in climate change and disaster management can share with others, and in doing so contribute towards avoidance of the same mistakes made by others.’
Ghanaian participant Akua Amoa Nyako said what she had learned during the week would help her make her work available to others.
‘Documenting does not end with collecting information and storing it,’ she said. ‘It goes further. If you just store it, people will not know what you have learned and you’ll not have achieved your aim. What we’ve learned here will help make sure what I’m doing back home gets to other people.’
Amoa Nyako said she would follow one of the recommendations presented at the workshop and hold a national event to share what she’d learned with others related fields.
‘I’ll make sure to organise a workshop where I can speak of the knowledge I got here.’
Ben Twinomugisha, the AAP Focal Point of UNDP Tanzania, said he would be arranging a similar meeting.
‘We’ll bring multi-sectoral actors together to display their skills, knowledge and the resource they have on climate change, and to dialogue and come up with a way to forward them in future. This workshop has been a foundation for us to organise such an important gathering.’
Jihene Touil of Tunisia praised the workshop for enabling the knowledge networks to be established.
‘It was great because almost all 20 countries were present. As it was on knowledge capitalisation we shared experiences and did practical exercises.’
Touil said the AAP had created a platform that will help each country establish its version of a climate change coordination unit that could collect, analyse and disseminate climate and development data.
‘This will help all the countries to create capacity to face climate change.’
Bayano Valy is a Mozambican journalist and is currently the Editor of the Gender Links Lusophone Opinion and Commentary Service.