Article / ILRIComms / Knowledge and Information

Co-creating knowledge vital in research for development

Local, indigenous, knowledge is essential in any country. It is a crucial asset that people can tap into in their struggle for survival. Local knowledge is meeting renewed interest in multi-stakeholder processes where scientists, farmers and other stakeholders work together to share and co-create knowledge on an equal footing in the pursuit of achieving mutual goals.

In a recent workshop co-organized by Water, Land and Ecosystems and Livestock and Fish research programs on: ‘Organizing, Managing, Communicating and Leveraging Information and Knowledge to Support and Deliver CRP Results  in Addis Ababa, Beth Cullen a researcher currently working at ILRI emphasized the role of knowledge co-creation in agricultural research. Beth pointed out that co-creating knowledge can lead to:

  • The breakdown of knowledge/power hierarchies that exist between scientists and farmers hence better collaboration between scientists and farmers;
  • End users of research become active partners in production of knowledge rather than objects of research and passive receivers of research outputs-which are necessary for easier adoption of best practices, better uptake and impact of research outputs;
  • Creates a range of insights and potential solutions especially in an era of unpredictable change;
  • Co-creating knowledge helps to ensure that institutional and policy issues as well as power dynamics are taken into account, rather than ‘magic bullet’ or blueprint approaches.

Organizing, Managing, Communicating and Leveraging Information and Knowledge to Support and Deliver CRP Results (photo credit: ILRI/Zerihun Sewunet).

Co-creating knowledge can be strengthened by communication tools such as participatory radio, video and the use of local languages. These tools ensure that research outputs are appealing to end users, are developed in a simpler language and that their outcomes are mutually owned.

Research that is made simpler and more compelling through such means tends to reach more people and get them to take action.

During the same workshop,Freyhiwot Nadew – Ethiopia Country Director of Farm Radio international described a case study of co-creating knowledge using participatory radio. She reported that Farm Radio’s participatory radio strategies have contributed significant changes in the knowledge and practices of farmers and their communities.

Nadew explained the process of engaging farmers in Farm Radio’s programming: “Farmers participation in radio is allowed at all levels – from planning to implementation and evaluation of the project, we involve farmers in the decision-making process, including making decisions about the contents, duration and program schedule”, she said. The farmers, or their representatives, also have a voice in the management of radio program projects.

Nadew assured participants that participatory radio is a great strategy of co-creating knowledge and supporting farmers to adopt new technology in agriculture.

At the end of Beth Cullen’s presentation, it was clear that local knowledge creation has become more widely recognized as a key contributor in sustainable development. Most successful development efforts leverage local technologies, local systems of knowledge, and the local environment in their plans. This in turn creates mutual respect between the stakeholders involved, encourages local participation, and builds partnerships for joint problem resolution.

The 4 day workshop which targeted participants from various information, knowledge, science and communication domains revolved around;

  • Communicating for wider influence and impact – Reaching and engaging with and influencing wide audiences,
  • Research for impact – Translating outputs into research, development and policy outcomes, getting knowledge into use,
  • Knowledge sharing and learning –Enriching organization/program/project learning, interaction and exchange,
  • Publishing – Capturing and disseminating research products and outputs,
  • Internal communication – Linking and connecting teams among other important issues in knowledge management and communication.

More resources on the workshop can be accessed on:  http://kmc4crps.wikispaces.com/

See Beth Cullen’s work on participatory video

See Farm Radio’s work with ILRI’s IPMS project

Other posts from this workshop:

http://wle.cgiar.org/blogs/2012/11/26/blurring-the-boundaries-between-research-and-communications/

https://infoilri.wordpress.com/2012/11/27/writing-our-science-for-development-a-new-look-at-writeshops/

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