SK for SFE – Sustaining Knowledge beyond a program’s lifetime

This is a cross-post of a piece written by Leandro Echt (CIPPEC), entitled “A researcher in search of a policy maker: reflections on the sustainability of a project aimed at linking policy and research in developing countries and published on Politics and Ideas

Running a multi-year development programme successfully is not an easy straightforward task; but rather a long journey characterized by its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges. The latter become even trickiest to overcome when this program is coming to an end.

In which case, the remaining challenge/question is how to sustain such program; in other words, how to make sure all programme products and learning material do not die away when programme closes. The programme “Spaces for Engagement: using knowledge to improve public decisions” (SFE) illustrates this situation. Not only the knowledge produced throughout the lifetime of the programme has been made available for public use, but also a reflective exercise on the programme resulted in a lessons learned paper which has also been made public with the aim to empower other intermediaries and knowledge brokers working in the same field.

The programme “Spaces for Engagement: using knowledge to improve public decisions” (SFE) is a six-year joint initiative by Global Development Network’s GDNet’s program and the CIPPECCenter for the Implementation of Public Polices promoting Equity and Growth (CIPPEC). Many of the lessons learned along these six years have been systematically reflected about in a Lessons learned paper, so as to improve our future work, as well as empower others who are walking or want to walk down the same path.

Started in 2008, the project encompasses six years of intense work aimed at creating diverse range of spaces of engagement with the participation of researchers from policy research institutions that conduct and use research to influence policy, policymakers, and/or decision making processes. For this purpose, SFE has deployed a va­riety of complementary methodologies to engage stakeholders in the field: an ef­fective combination of cutting edge research production, development of training materials, coordination of networks and debates and capacity building (both online and offline) allowed the programme to work with more than 300 researchers, prac­titioners and policy makers from more than 40 countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

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Kstar: Views, hopes, fears, and next steps

So the Kstar conference 2012 comes to an end?…. Or is it just the beginning?! What stood out for you? Where should we be going next? Over the past three days we’ve gathered your views and insight, which are all brought together in this collection of videos:

Managing data in a world drowning in knowledge

With the internet-fuelled explosion of accessible knowledge, managing and storing it systematically has never been more important. On the second day of the K* Conference 2012, a panel of experts explore cutting-edge solutions to data and knowledge management.

Kstar 2012 and data management

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Once a K* practitioner, always a K* practitioner

By Louise Shaxson, Research Fellow, RAPID, Overseas Development Institute, London, UK

Like Alex, I’m greatly looking forward to the K* conference – the first global, cross-sectoral conference on knowledge translation/brokering/exchange/mobilisation – or, in Alex’s very neat shorthand, K*.  Any policymaking process means making decisions, and decisions need knowledge.  Whether we work with government, as practitioners or in the private sector; we need to be sure that we are correctly interpreting the evidence in front of us.  And the more complex the decisions, the more knowledge is power.  I’ll come back to this later: but to begin with, Alex gave a bit of his personal history on his experience navigating the knowledge-policy interface in an earlier blog, so I thought I’d write mine.

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K* 2012 – contribute anywhere, anytime!


Follow and participate in K*2012

For the first time K* 2012 brings together knowledge intermediaries working across the knowledge-policy interface all over the globe, to share experience, lessons learned and build a global community of knowledge practitioners. The conference will be held in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada from the 25th– 27th April. Can’t make it to Canada? You don’t need to miss out as we bring the K* 2012 experience and global community to you. With full social media reporting, including blogs, video interviews, live tweets and much more, we are mobilising the power of social media so you can contribute to the conference anywhere, anytime!
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What is KStar Initiative and why do we need it?

By Alex. T Bielak, Senior Fellow and Knowledge Broker, United Nations University – Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH)

Next week, practitioners working across the knowledge-policy interface will gather in Hamilton, Canada for the 2012 K* Conference to foster connections between knowledge intermediaries and advance K* theory and practice. In this blog, Alex. T Bielak outlines what K* is, why it is important and what he, as chair of the conference, hopes discussion will achieve.

Before I get to why the KStar concept cuts to the core of the knowledge field and what we hope to achieve with the K* Conference and associated activities, I’ll share a little personal history, and a confession.
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GDNet reflects on the challenges for building capacity in knowledge management in Africa

Article by GDNet featured in the latest issue of the World Journal of Science, Technology and Sustainable Development

As the knowledge management and research communications arm of the Global Development Network, GDNet’s purpose is to help diverse research and policy audiences make better use of development research from the Global South. It does this through brokering knowledge and building the capacity of researchers from developing and transition countries to communicate their findings to those making decisions that affect people living in poverty the world over.

GDNet has just had a paper, published in the latest issue of the World Journal of Science, Technology and Sustainable Development, that reviews the findings of a conference it organised in 2007 on knowledge management in Africa.

In its early years, GDNet placed particular emphasis on information and knowledge management staff in developing country research institutes, thus recognizing the importance of this group in using local research to influence policy.

From 2005 to 2007, GDNet ran, in partnership with organizations such as the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the World Bank Institute, a series of capacity building workshops, in Egypt, Uganda, South Africa and Burkina Faso. The workshops aimed at providing training and skill building in knowledge management.

In partnership with the ACBF and the World Bank Institute, GDNet organized in 2007 a conference which gathered the experiences and lessons learned from efforts to build knowledge management capacity from across the African continent. Called “Knowledge Management as an Enabler of Change and Innovation in Africa”, the conference addressed the following key themes: the need to create an enabling environment for the adoption of knowledge management practices in Africa and the importance of indigenous knowledge assets as inputs to poverty alleviation strategies.

The Conference report summarized the challenges inherent in developing effective communication strategies and a “knowledge friendly culture” in Africa as follows: creating synergy between technological and social approaches to knowledge management synergy; prioritizing resources; ownership of the knowledge creation process; sharing knowledge sharing experiences; equity in knowledge; and partnership.

In its paper, GDNet revisits the discussions of 2007, questions progress made towards meeting those challenges and shares how GDNet’s capacity building activities have evolved in the light of the conference findings. As stated in the paper, “it is likely that if the delegates were re-united today, they would identify the same challenges as existing, and note that some, such as the need for evidence to support allocation of resources on knowledge management, are more pressing than before. Linked to this, the need for cooperation and learning from each other’s experiences in knowledge management is even greater than in 2007”.

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GDNet at the KM Impact Challenge unConference

The KM Impact Challenge is a collaborative learning process sponsored by USAID that has brought together practitioners to describe and share their experiences in assessing their knowledge and learning initiatives. 47 case studies were submittedto the Challenge and 24 of these were chosen as top finalists. On May 5th and 6th the KM Impact Challenge unConference in Washington, DC, brought together  over 70 practitioners from different fields of expertise to discuss these cases, share their experiences and debate tools and approaches to measure the impact of KM activities. Some other 50 participants joined in online the sessions that were screecasted live on the web.

GDNet participated in the Challenge and was nominated amongst the top finalist. The case study Connecting researchers from the Global South to those with the power to make a difference was presented during the unConference and  showcased how GDNet

knowledge hub brings together and communicates policy-relevant research from the Global South.

GDNet has also been a co-sponsor of the unConference and supported the social reporting activities around the event. Together with colleagues from the Impact Alliance, IRG, QED, and several other participants that joined in throughout the two days, we covered the different plenary and parallel sessions with tweets, blog posts, pictures and video interviews with finalists and participants. We also used a wiki to take notes during the parallel sessions and the open spaces and produced daily summaries of the unConference highlights.

In her reflections on the unConference, USAID Stacey Young underlined the diversity of perspectives and different ways to approach the question of how to capture, understand and demonstrate the value created by investing in learning. A lot still needs to be done on this issue but the different ideas that emerged in the unConference provide exciting pathways to move this agenda forward.

You can stay connected with the KM Impact Challenge by joining the online community, conversing on Twitter (#KMImpact) and Facebook, and subscribing to the RSS Feed and email alert.