Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

The Institutional KS project has started to reflect with the ongoing Change Management Process coordinators on ways for effective engagement with all kinds of stakeholders.
The current opportunities to feed back to the process in general via a blog and the working groups outcomes (currently the Visioning group paper) through a discussion forum seem for the moment not generating lots of interest.
Many reasons can be found. Some are included in the following post on the Change Management blog post here.

But there are a number of things that we could do to encourage participation. Here are some ideas:

  • The Center directors could send an encouraging message to their staff and role model by participating in the blog and / or forum.
  • The working group members could forward the invitation to their networks and colleagues.
  • The Centers could organize short seminars followed by group discussions and feed back the results via the blog or forum.
  • The visioning paper could have an executive summary (if possible in Spanish and French to support all staff and stakeholders) in order to facilitate the scanning of the main messages and ideas.
  • The Steering Committee and working groups could choose among them a blogger who updates the wider audience regularly

Those are just a few… I am curious to know if there are other ideas…

The latest edition of LEISA magazine- Magazine on Low External Input and Sustainable Agriculture (June 2008 volume 24 no.2) features an article by Janice Jiggins entitled “Sustainable agriculture in the news: International study stresses role of farmers”–see article

This article is based on “A ground-breaking three-year study that recently concluded that the agriculture sector should use the know-how of small-holder farmers better“.

This is at the very heart of much of the work that is being done by the Knowledge Sharing in Research project and its Pilots–finding ways to share knowledge with stakeholders, including how to understand the needs and situations of beneficiaries on the ground, recognising and valuing their knowledge, skills, experiences and ideas, and finding ways to collaborate and learn with them.

Janice Jiggins opens her article by stating that “Global Agriculture is not delivering all it should.” She poses the question of “what kind of agricultural knowledge, science and technology do we need to solve these problems?

The article highlights a massive study which has been recently undertaken: the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology (IAASTD). She informs the readers that “the broad conclusion was that agricultural knowledge and technology need drastic changes: ‘business as usual is not an option‘ “.

Interestingly she presents three main transitions that the study suggests to help move practice in the desired direction. Of note to our work in the Knowledge Sharing in Research project are:

“First transition: Science must complement local knowledge…”


“Second transition: Issues like subsidies, markets , access to land and know-how must take the necessities of small-holder farmers into account.”

The article concludes with:

This assessment highlights the contribution of strong collaboration between researchers, formal science, and the knowledge, skills and expertise of small farmers in moving sustainable agriculture forward.

This is an interesting support to work in the KSinR project and some of the Pilot projects who have been experimenting with approaches to knowledge sharing with stakeholders, beneficiaries and end users especially the:

  • International Farmers’ Conference of ICARDA with presentation of stories from farmers themselves
  • Participatory monitoring and evaluation with communities in an adaptive management fisheries project by WorldFish
  • Collaborative work on wastewater research and message dissemination by IMWI in Ghana
  • The use of a Learning Alliance approach in IWMI’s WASPA project to work directly with stakeholders to identify problems and solutions

How can we derive, share and apply lessons and best practices of ways to engage with farmers in order to learn and make use of their needs and knowledge in our agricultural work?

What has been/is working? What should be replicated or mainstreamed?

How can we improve our collaboration and learning efforts?

Hopefully lessons from the KSinR project will start to contribute to this larger discussion and movement.

What seems to be apparent is that in many cases people believe in the idea behind multi-stakeholder processes or platforms- seeing the benefit in bringing together various stakeholders in a process of research and action towards a defined goal.

But where many questions still lie is in how to organise such a process, what model to adopt, which characteristics to capitalise on.

In the previous posts on the Learning Alliance in the WASPA project- Alexandra Clemett from IWMI indicated that trying to use the whole structure proposed for Learning Alliances was too much for her project–and somewhat jokingly said “what we need is Learning Alliance light!”

And perhaps there is some more serious idea in this?

What are some of the main components that should be developed for a multi-stakeholder process?

What are key activities or ways to work with the stakeholders?

How should it be structured? organised?

How can we get the most benefit/value out of a process without it taking too much time, energy and resources to carry out?

What would our Learning Alliance light–look like?

Check out the most recent ICT-KM newsletter (2nd Quarter 2008) at which has just been released.

This bumper edition contains lots of updates and articles on ICT-KM program projects, activities, initiatives, events and much more.

The newsletter highlights the KS project particularly through:

  • an article about the KS toolkit-see link
  • a piece about the recently held ICARDA International Farmers’ Conference-see link
  • an advertisement of the active KS blog in ‘Bragging about our blog(s)’

The newsletter contains lots of other interesting information and is well worth a look.