Knowledge Management for Development (KM4Dev) is an established community of practice (CoP) that seeks to forge linkages and encourage peer learning and exploration around the field of knowledge management for development. The network has grown a lot over the past five years and now has just under 1500 mailing list subscribers and over 2700 Ning users.
One of the results of this growth is the emergence of more localized sub-groups around specific themes (e.g. social media, community radio etc.) and in specific cities or countries. KM4Dev Addis Ababa/Ethiopia is one such local group.
In Ethiopia, the group is still forming; it currently comprises 27 members from various development sub-sectors (agriculture, health, education, water etc.) and has held three informal ‘get-togethers’. During the first get-together in January 2012, the group defined its rationale, routine for meetings and set of communication platforms (namely the Ning group for more formal communication and a Facebook group for informal chats). In the second gathering, the group discussed ‘what is knowledge management’, heard about an initiative to map development (research) projects that have interesting ICT or KM approaches, methods or tools and finally introduced a variety of social media. The latest get-together took place on 28 June 2012 and further explored the ICT-KM project mapping and provided an opportunity to hear about knowledge management approaches at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
What is ILRI doing for KM4Dev Ethiopia and what’s in it for ILRI?
The Knowledge Management and Information Services (KMIS) team of ILRI has been instrumental in getting this network off the ground. ILRI, hosted the first two get-togethers, the latest was hosted by the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV). All three get-togethers were facilitated by ILRI staff members, all social platforms and the social media sessions planned have been prepared and set up by KMIS staff. Over time, we expect these gatherings will be organized and facilitated by other members, which is a promise from the third get-together already.
We see several benefits such activities bring to our work at ILRI:
- These gatherings are an excellent opportunity to hear about other interesting approaches that could be useful for ILRI’s own work;
- The little projects set up on the side (such as the ICT-KM mapping) is a great way to gather additional information about the KM state of play in Ethiopia;
- The gatherings have so far been good opportunities to showcase some of the KM work that ILRI is doing, and getting feedback about it from informed, specialist audiences;
- The emerging network may prove useful to us in the future as a resource to draw on, to engage with, and perhaps form partnership in our work on livestock issues in the region.
The next KM4Dev Addis/Ethiopia gathering will take place on 21 September. The agenda will have parallel sessions covering theoretical discussions to practical organizational case studies, peer-assists to gather concrete solutions to real problems and some more tool sessions to hear about and practice with blogs, Slideshare and Yammer.
Over time, the group will connect with other local KM4Dev networks in Nairobi, in Africa, but also with the global community of practice that mothers all local networks.
Learning is global and local and feedback mechanisms among and between these two levels are crucial. The KM4Dev Addis/Ethiopia network is well-placed to weave together conversations and activities from ILRI, from Ethiopia and from the wider KM4Dev global network to help bring about sustainable development.