12 participants attended the seventh get-together of the group on 21 June 2013 at the ILRI info centre, of which three were new to the network.
The agenda included: a) A focused conversation on the work by about KM maturity assessment in international development organisations in Ethiopia, and b) a peer assist about keeping the Ethiopian Agriculture Portal up-to-date, postponed last time.
Notes of the meeting hereby:
AA) Marketplace of ideas
After introducing ourselves to one another using a river of life exercise, we also highlighted interesting topics to explore in subsequent gatherings:
Around the field of KM globally and/or conceptually:
- Make information more available and accessible via tools
- KM ladder: Data, information, knowledge, wisdom
- Comms vs. KM
- Adapt knowledge from beneficiaries
- KM impact in relation to development goals
- Tools for KM impact measurement
Around our experiences with KM for development in Ethiopia:
- KM technologies: choose the best ones
- Formal and informal platforms
- Energypedia.infoL we do wikis and information dabatase
- CoPs, KM technology, KM systems
- Capacity development with KM
A) Focused conversation on KM maturity assessment
Hermella Ayalew gave this presentation on the topic: 7.%20KM%20Maturity%20Assesment%20Presentation.pptx
Questions and answers, conversation:
- Q: Did you use data from gov’t to find out how many other organisations are out there aside from these 30 organisations? How did you choose these?
- A: Out of prior experience. I purposely selected those 30 or so, from prior knowledge.
- Q; What is the relationship between the effectiveness of KM and where it is nested in the organisation? In GIZ KM is in IT, in UNICEF it’s split in policy analysis/M&E and in Comms. What would be the best place to nest a KM function? How many orgs have put that function in which?
- A: It works best when there is a standalone KM unit. When an organisation starts with KM they usually set up that dedicated unit. When they are relying on IT etc. the resources, intentions and workload might be divided. Having a dedicated unit makes it easier to manage and to see the impact of KM.
- Q: How many organisations have a separate KM unit?
- A: 33% from this sample. But another third uses an ICT team.
- Q: This study could be done as a starting research area for more research efforts. Also have you tried to do more qualitative research to validate findings? There might be a danger of doing KM just because donors will be interested in this. How genuine is the KM effort? This was based on respondents’ perceptions.
- A: No, no interview, group discussion…
- Q: Did you try to find the effects of one variable against another e.g. funding on KM, ICT etc.?
- A: They were treated separately. ICT was a basic component of KM and based on those findings by researchers (from literature review), 4 pillars came up that were treated separately.
- Q: Did you come across interesting good practices, ideas etc. in the process?
- A: Incentive schemes have worked in those organisations. When you celebrate champions it helps. Part of the incentive scheme is to attach performance measurement with sharing of knowledge management etc. This scheme really works. In Addis, convincing people to share is difficult. The other most important factor from the study is implementing/having a working KM strategy that everyone is aware of and accepts, management buy-in.
- Q: Which organisations did you find interesting?
- A: Outside UN organisations, ILRI was the best.
- Q: How could this relate to our network? What information could we use to organise sessions etc.?
- A: A guiding document e.g. how do you assess maturity and performance of KM in organisations. How do you clarify what KM is? We can come up with recommendations to assess, evaluate, tools, incentive schemes etc.
- Q: What organisations would be interesting to explore in KM4Dev Ethiopia?
- A: Various:
- UNICEF would be a really good example to implement as they are starting,
- Outside the UN, some gov’t agencies are doing KM.
- GOAL Ethiopia (more focused on external work/clients/beneficiaries)
- Save The Children USA.
- USAID Ethiopia?
- Q: Are you going to present these in another way? e.g. via a series of blog posts?
- A: That's an idea
- Q: Will you do it later again to see if they have changed their view?
- A: I will consider doing this again. In 6 months/a year. There seemed to be interest in this
It’s also nice to look at other organisations who are not practicing KM.
Worth inviting people from private sector also e.g. KIMONICS.
Peer assist Fanos on the Ethiopian Agricultural Portal
The Ethiopian Agriculture Portal (EAP) is usually not up to date. There is an online and an offline version. Servers are at MoA with contributions from extension officers, NARS etc. and the Ministry would take the responsibility to animate the portal. In 2006 the portal was set up without content and there would be a consultant to populate it. Fanos Mekonnen was hired as content manager in 2007 and collected all content etc. The EAP is not about high quality science and it contains also local language documents. When the project IPMS stopped (which helped set up the portal), the decision was taken to continue it and LIVES. The EAP is expected to help. But this requires ownership. Content doesn’t just happen with only oneore person.
How do we bring m people to contribute content and to keep the portal up to date? How do we ensure we build ownership in the Ministry of Agriculture to keep this portal up and running?
- Q: How did you find information?
- A: I went to the Ministry, talked to extension directorates and asked for relevant info (extension packages, manuals etc.), we converted softcopy docs onto PDFs, scanned/digitized limited circulation hardcopy materials etc.
- Q: Was it easy to get information?
- A: It was difficult, we needed to involve the managers, policy makers etc. get a letter to make sure information would be produced/shared.
- Q: Where is the portal sitting and who is managing it?
- A: At MoA – they have big server rooms. Fanos can access it to do content management.
- Q: Creating ownership by the Ministry, why do we need to do that? Why should the Ministry own it?
- A: The idea was that the Ministry would run it etc. after some time.
- Q: What’s the attitude of management in the Ministry towards this?
- A: They’re very supportive but when it comes to find a manager no one is responsive and they say it’s the responsibility of e.g. IT, extension etc.
- Q: How did the Ministry gather data outside of this portal?
- A: The Ministry gets data via the different departments and district agencies.
- Q: Who’s responsible to compile, verify that data etc.
- A: In EAP we are not uploading data but manuals, documents, publications etc. Whoever prepares that publication. It’s not about data. We’re dealing more with publications than data.
- Q: How many documents and how many organisations are currently contributing?
- A: Right now 800 docs in different formats and languages. Whenever we come across new publications we collect them. When we see new publications we try and get them in. We do it informally
- Q: The only contributors come to you or can they contribute themselves directly? You can then extract that information etc. How do you deal with quality control?
- A: If someone wants to contribute a doc, s/he sends an email or the doc via hard copy/flash etc. and so far we organised sets of content managers (e.g. 4 at Ministry level, others at regional level). We started that and someone was assigned but those people never uploaded a single document. Content needs to be uploaded by more than one person.
- Q: Have you tried to connect with other departments e.g. M&E or else who are developing documents and reporting? Dedicated teams?
- A: We tried to work with the PR team in Government systems. Agriculture is very diverse so it’s difficult to assess the quality. We try to upload only content that’s ready to be uploaded (i.e. of good enough quality already) via PR offices etc.
- Q: What mechanism do you use to upload docs etc. in hardcopy? Is there any way to enter that kind of data?
- A: We prefer softcopy (because of size issues) – it’s difficult to download heavy docs – and if the doc proves very important and exists only in hardcopy we use a specific software to digitize it. If it remains too heavy we divided it in 2 parts.
- Q: What knowledge/information needs of those clients can be fulfilled by those clients?
- A: The major target are development practitioners working with farmers, who don’t have access to up to date content from different parts of the world or people needing experience from Ethiopia. E.g. University academics, NGOs, but also policy-makers etc. The docs that are uploaded are e.g. lessons etc. no high science (e.g. how to set up a hand pump).
- Q: How do you monitor usage and coverage? Is it really used by the public?
- A: We have a counter on the portal and use Google Analytics. More or less 1300 visits / month. Power is a major issue at the ministry. It might take a day or 2 for a technician to fix a problem + broadband issues bringing EAP site down. To solve these issues we also put this website on a DVD so a person can find the portal without access to the Internet.
- Q: Knowledge and information needs – what are they? What info needs does this portal fulfill?
- A: For Unis, e.g. source materials that are available only in hardcopy. For Dev’t agents, e.g. finding a dairy manual etc. For policy-makers this portal helps them know about the status of beef production in Ethiopia, recommendations from research outputs.
- Q: What was happening when this started? Was it important for the Ministry to set up this portal? Sometimes when working with the government there’s a need for NGOs. Sometimes government says it’s important but after the project phases out it’s not taken up.
- A: Ideally yes. It was their request.
- Q: With decision makers, they have the power to say yes we do this. But they may not have the capacity or resources etc. Who was involved in the practical implementation?
- A: Wondirad Mandefrot when he was working in the extension. Involvement decreased but he assigned people to continually add content. Thos people got laptops but none contributed because they were not accountable for that, nont evaluated etc. and there wan't good Internet at that time.
- Q: Have you tried to engage Universities to manage this?
- A: We did not go with Haramaya but we did try Mekelle and other universities to help with content. For ownership we didn’t consider this option.
- Q: Have you tried contacting e.g. FAO who are usually helping the Ministry?
- A: We tried to communicate with Red-FS and they want someone to update content on the EAP. The work we wanted and the work they wanted were different so it didn't go through
- Q: What did you do to make the portal known?
- A: Some promotion (flyers, calendars, bumper stickers) we went to bureaus, large institutions etc. to show what’s working or not.
- Q: Did you try other incentives to get people to help you?
- A: No
- Q: Did you consider hiring volunteers or trainees
- A: No
- Q: Did you have a look at other portals?
- A: Not really.
- Q: Is it also hosting multimedia content?
- A: No
- Q: Do you have guidelines to channel / update content?
- A: We have guidelines
- Q: Did you work with specific agents that you know inside the Ministry?
- A: We contacted the PR departments
- Q: Do you have contacts that can help you with understanding the complexity of the Ministry from inside?
- A: One or 2 people from IT.
- Work out the need for this portal. Maybe the Ministry doesn’t really need it. Perhaps pull the plug.
- Infrastructures, servers, internet access, power outage etc. might not be smart tools for this. Perhaps better host it in the US?
- Networking with other stakeholders e.g. ILRI to see how they harvest their own knowledge and train them on how to post on EAP directly if they have content that seems interesting for EAP.
- Promotion: focus on this specific platform. For EAP, promote this portal. Promote new content e.g. via email newsletter with summary.
- Give an opportunity for staff members to upload docs directly – give them an account, create awareness for them to upload docs etc.
- Crowdfunding: every stakeholder involved in funding this, in contributing.
- Upload softcopy documents – focus on good mechanisms to capture and upload data e.g. via summaries.
- Focus on knowledge clients – select a group of target audiences and approach them to see if they’ve used the portal, what kind of information they’ve used. Take a sample from them and see if they’ve used it. If they have you can use their testimonies to show to the Ministry that it's worth investing in this portal.
- Look at decision-makers who can make or break this portal or not. Who can you obtain buy-in as to importance of the portal?
- You can encourage users by recognising them on the home page for their contributions etc.
- Discuss with the Ministry and explain clearly that someone needs to be involved regularly in this. If they’re not really on board, contact Unis, FAO etc.
- If the Ministry has a website and there’s a link, try to have a link in the CSA which is working on many surveys etc. and are recommending surveys etc. so get to work with them to get this with your website.
- Work on incentives e.g. training especially in the Ministry – it’s a way of doing advocacy
- Try to find volunteers to help update content. Once it becomes professional, the incentive is there and you can for payment schemes
- Work on views usage to see how people are coming to your portal
- To target people from outside Ethiopia, do more promotion if that group seems relevant
- Urge different Ministry units (or Universities etc.) to develop proposals to see who's really motivated to keep the portal up to date
- Do a survey to find out who’s using what and how etc. and what they think of quality etc.
- Develop individual contacts with Ministry staff
- Develop an organogram and consult all departments, work out the workflow in the ministry re: publications
- Develop clear publication guidelines and a publishing process guide around which you can train people
- Look at other existing portals etc. and contact them to join forces as and when
What Fanos will do
I will consider all of them but will particularly consider the following:
- Clarify need for portal with Ministry
- Network with different content providers, stakeholders etc. at different levels to get up to date information
- Involve major decision-makers
- Linking with CSA
- Incentives to work on for people to work on this and contribute content
- EAP should be assessed against users' use
Reflections and closure
The marketplace of ideas worked better but people should come on time, as we wasted 30' out of 3h.
The next gathering will happen on Friday 4 October at the ILRI info centre, from 2 to 5pm, with a marketplace. It will likely feature:
- A marketplace of 50 min where anyone can share any kind of update, event, document, idea etc. with one another - as a great way to get to know each other too. Please bring materials, PCs, CD-Roms etc. anything you need for a demonstration.
- KM at… ILRI (Ewen)
- Communication for Development (and KM) at UNICEF
- A focused conversation on 'the KM ladder' (Dawit, Simret, Elisabeth)
- (tentative) A peer assist case about joining up community of practice members from community, NGO, research and policy makers together (Amal)