How can KM tools and models be applied in developing countries?

The application of knowledge management tools and models undoubtedly has value in a developing country setting. However imposing or transferring KM models created in the North to developing countries cannot be done automatically. Rather stakeholders should be involved and their needs taken into account; tools and models can then be adapted to create a meaningful approach applicable to the stakeholders’ own context and based on their own experience.

The sharing of knowledge is already developed to some extent in every organisational and community setting, and these existing practices should be built on. Examples of this might be a culture of storytelling or systems for the sharing of indigenous knowledge; these local examples can be used as case studies to demonstrate the creative and appropriate use of KM in the South. As culture and values differ in different parts of the world, it may be that an existing knowledge sharing culture can act as the basis for KM implementation. Cultural differences can of course also be a challenge when working with KM in the south.

The availability and accessibility of information and communications technologies will inevitably affect the application of some knowledge management tools for use in the South, and an awareness of the practical limitations of ICTs should be part of the process of appropriate development of KM tools. Low tech solutions should be used where possible and a number of methods of communication may be needed to keep everyone involved. As in any organisation working in different parts of the world, differences in language and culture may need to be addressed before knowledge can be shared freely.

A useful way to start knowledge sharing may be by targeting small, subject focused groups and using success stories to build on. It is important to avoid jargon and adapt terminology to that used in the local context.

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