Knowledge Sharing for International Development 
Chennai Workshop

WHEN: 18-20 September, 2001

WHERE: M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai, India

Knowledge Management (KM) is a concept that has evolved from the private sector in the context of the emergent knowledge economy. Based on the assumption that knowledge is the foundation for equitable and sustainable development, KM has recently become a top priority for key decision-makers in the development milieu. While there exists increasing interest in the concept of KM, there is also great uncertainty about what it really means and how to go about it.

Bellanet has co-organized - in conjunction with organisations such as CIDA, DFID, IDRC, GTZ and SDC - two KM workshops. The Knowledge Management - Implications and Applications for Development Organizations workshop, which was hosted by the Benton Foundation in Washington, DC (February 2-4, 2000), involved some 38 participants from 18 international development organizations. Its aim was to clarify, explore and position KM within the cultures and practices of the development community. The focus of this workshop was on development assistance agencies.

The second workshop, Knowledge Management for Development Organisations, was hosted by IDS in Brighton, UK (June 26-28, 2000), and involved 53 participants from 34 organizations. This workshop aimed to expand the community of actors from the development community seeking to understand and to implement KM strategies within their organizations, to increase understanding of the potential of KM as a strategic tool for development agencies, and to validate and expand on the results of the Washington workshop. The focus of this workshop was somewhat broader than the first one, encompassing donor organizations and large NGOs.

Both were very successful workshops, allowing participants to share their KM experiences and learn from each other. One important outcome that stemmed from the workshops is the creation of a community built around KM issues within international development organizations. This community has a vibrant discussion forum called KM4dev, as well as a web site containing KM resources (

During both workshops, participants raised the very significant issue of Southern involvement in future events and the possibility of holding subsequent workshops in the South. Of particular concern was that such workshops be focused on Southern needs but within a broader vision of international development and on knowledge sharing as the principal KM conduit. Knowledge sharing should be at the core of project development and implementation at the local, regional and global levels. But how can we go about doing this?

The Knowledge Sharing for International Development: Asia Workshop seeks to bring together a variety of development professionals, mainly from South and South East Asia, who will explore during the two-day workshop issues such as these:

  • what is knowledge? what is knowledge management? knowledge sharing?
  • what are the existing frameworks, approaches, strategies and tools for sharing knowledge?
  • what are the knowledge sharing challenges relating to development work in Asia (at the institutional, local, national, regional and global levels)?
  • how can knowledge be shared most effectively between different development community actors (CBO's, NGOs, governments, international institutions, etc.)?
  • how can knowledge sharing assist development work in Asia?
  • how can a knowledge sharing culture be created in the development community?
Immediately preceding the workshop, a full-day session will be held on KM issues within development organizations for interested participants. This will build on the learning from the earlier events and will be useful background for this workshop. Some of the topics to be covered during the session are:
  • defining purpose and strategy in your organization
  • accessing knowledge
  • fostering leadership and culture
FOCUS: The workshop will focus on practical knowledge sharing issues and strategies, using several multi-stakeholder networks (regional, national, sectoral) as case studies.

PARTICIPANTS: 50-60 participants are expected, mostly from South and South East Asia, representing a cross section of organizations interested in these issues, including network members, regional and international experts, and funding organizations.

The participants would come from the following types of organizations:

  • Community-based organizations (CBOs)
  • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
  • Government
  • Research institutes
  • Private sector
  • Funding agencies
  • Increased understanding of knowledge sharing as an essential component of international development, and of general KM internal and external strategies
  • Increased and sustained exchange of ideas on these issues
  • New strategies and frameworks for improved effectiveness of individual institutions and networks

Last updated by kmfordev admin Jun 1, 2009.

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