CTA supported KM Strategy development in the Pacific moves to national level

Israel Bionyi Nyoh

Conceptualising and implementing a Knowledge Management (KM) strategy at organisational level is already complex but it can be even trickier to develop a cross-cutting KM strategy at regional level. However, getting this right can help improve productivity, and more importantly, preserve the knowledge capital of an organisation, build that bigger overall change.

To enable sound conceptualisation of KM in the Pacific, CTA supported the Land Resources Division (LRD) of the Pacific Community (SPC) to build its Knowledge Management Strategy 2015-2017. Following up on the strategy, CTA in collaboration with the European Union(EU) supported Pacific Agriculture Policy Project (PAPP) and the Ministry of Agriculture Vanuatu organised a regional KM workshop in Vanuatu on 7–10 September, 2015 to ‘Strengthen Regional KM Capacities’ to support policy processes, research, value chains development and markets. The workshop objectives were to:

  • Raise awareness of the importance and benefits of knowledge management to agricultural and forestry stakeholders in the Pacific region;
  • Assist participants to initiate development of knowledge management national Action Plans, including for Vanuatu, as part of a regional KM intervention; and
  • Establish a steering mechanism to promote collaboration and capacity development on KM across the region.

A key outcome of the work sessions is the validation of a regional approach to developing national KM and the establishment of a committee to oversee implementation in the region of KM activities including capacity development. Another important outcome is that members agreed on sharing at least one good research practice from each country (climate change cropping, livestock feed, etc). The workshop also concluded with the launch of the first Policy Bank in the region, a need identified as pair of the regional KM strategy and the first of a series of national launches to increase awareness of how knowledge exchange on policies can support dialogue.

KM capacity strengthening at national level

Through a collaborative support from CTA and the EU supported PAPP, implemented by LRD-SPC, senior management staff of national agriculture ministries from seven countries in the Pacific were trained on using the ecosystems approach to KM developed by CTA and Co-Capacity in implementing KM within their institutions. So far, two countries (Samoa and Vanuatu) have benefited from additional capacity strengthening by applying the KM techniques to develop national level KM action plans for the agricultural sector. Samoa for instance, is now developing its Agriculture Sector Plan (ASP) and the CTA ecosystems approach to KM was used to prioritise the monitoring and evaluation management information system (M&E MIS). The work on the M&E MIS has triggered some interest within the World Bank which is looking forward to fund the implementation. The Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries, Samoa first held a workshop to validate its sectoral KM assessment and develop its KM Action Plan on 8 December, 2015 in Samoa, while the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity (MALFFB), Vanuatu recently had a workshop on 7-9 March, 2016 in Vanuatu. The KM “Capacity Strengthening” workshops focused on uplifting the capacity of senior and mid-management level national agricultural ministry staff on KM. The workshops enabled them to apply the principles of a KM Scan to assess KM in the agricultural sector and come up with their own KM plans. Extension was given a special consideration in the formulation of the KM action planning in Vanuatu.

National KM products on policies and strategies mobilised

The Agricultural Policy Bank launched within the context of the ‘Strengthening Regional KM Capacities’ workshop in Vanuatu, September 2015, has more contents added since, and now has a wealthy catalogue with key agricultural policy information on livestock, forestry, land use, bio-security, national plans, and strategies available online for farmers, entrepreneurs, policy makers, donors, development partners, and other stakeholders to access. The Policy Bank complements the regional KM strategy as a regional KM product with data gathered from 15 countries in the Pacific.

Taking the KM scan to identify national priorities

Miriama Kunawave Brown, Facilitator of Pacific Agriculture and Forestry Policy Network (PAFPNet), member of the PAPP Team and Research Technician at SPC was involved in and co-facilitated some sessions of the national workshops in Samoa and Vanuatu. “The KM Scan developed by CTA and CoCapacity were applied by the ministries and the results and analysis validated during discussion sessions during the workshops” she said. In preparation for the workshops, the Ministries also carried out an inventory of existing knowledge products and services, which then led to an analysis of the KM status of the ministries and the identification of gaps in national knowledge product. Participants at the national workshops were also presented with the Regional KM Strategy developed by SPC, based on which the outlines and prioritisation within a national KM Action Plan was outlined, a small task committee and focal point was set up within the ministries to ensure follow-up and coordination with SPC on the implementation of KM within these institutions.

Use of KM methods and tools

The SPC has been using KM to preserve its corporate asset and encourage learning within its divisions and countries. The 69-year-old intergovernmental institution is also familiar with quite a number of KM tools and methods that it uses in its interventions, activities, and within the organisation. Miriama Brown could recall of about 12 tools she and the facilitation team used during the events. She established the following list:

  • Brainstorming;
  • Peer Assist;
  • Video sharing;
  • Interview;
  • Knowledge Harvesting;
  • Storytelling;
  • Social media;
  • Plenary;
  • Group discussions;
  • Project planning;
  • Communities of Practice; and
  • Content Management (Website)

CTA is interested in substantiating the use of KM methods and tools because these serve to mediate the KM process. Very often, KM has been considered by management of institutions to be too complex and abstract to be given due consideration. However, the experience of CTA and its partners in the recent years, have demonstrated that we already use many KM methods and tools without realising so. Thus, CTA is now focusing on documenting the use of KM within ACP organisations and sharing such experiences.

Photo credit: SPC