Camaraderie fosters learning during the KM4AgDChallenge.

 

Story by: Elizabeth Asiimwe (Uganda)

We may all have organized virtual learning sessions, but how many of us have organized effective sessions in the agricultural systems setting? Well, this calls for a deeper reflection. I recently participated in the #KM4AgDChallenge which I believe fits the description of an effective learning program.

A novice in the field of Knowledge Management: Finding a new family

In August 2021, I got an opportunity from the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services to participate in the Knowledge Management for Agricultural development Challenge. Organized by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), AFAAS, CCARDESA, CORAF, ASARECA, in cooperation with the Knowledge for Development Partnership (K4DP) and partners YPARD and GFAR, the challenge aimed at building appropriate capacities, establishing communities of practice for Knowledge Management, and strengthening mechanisms for knowledge generation to accelerate the achievement of the CAADP Malabo goals by 2025 and the SDGs by 2030. The maiden version was attended by 28 participants (10 women, 18 men) from 22 countries, and over 20 experienced facilitators globally sourced.

 

Above: Participants in the 2021 KM4AgD Challenge

Joining this challenge was an eye opener for me. I was one of the many people who could not explicitly differentiate between information and knowledge; and who did not care about the relevance of knowledge management in the growth of individuals and organizations, nor elucidate the difference between tacit and explicit knowledge. If anyone asked me that question again, my response would be different-courtesy of the several KM essential sessions delivered by the top authorities in the KM space globally that I participated in. I am loving this new field.

Content and key outputs of the Challenge:

Categorized under three major components, the content revolved around essentials of knowledge management, advanced knowledge management and knowledge societies. Another outstanding aspect was when we were tasked to identify knowledge challenges in agriculture, develop concepts, organize and deliver knowledge cafés. The execution process of bringing different people together virtually to work on a common task was amazing-despite the busy schedules. This was crowned with a conference to share outputs from the 3 months challenge. In general, the outputs were 28 KM strategies for different organizations, 20 country policy briefs and statements on Knowledge Management, and 10 thematic policy briefs derived from the knowledge cafes, now christened as the KM for Agricultural development Agenda. The output around networking and friendships may be difficult to quantify, but it was overwhelming..

 

Source: FARA The Continental Knowledge Management for Agricultural Development (KM4AgD) Agenda

A mix of methodologies: learning, friendship and fun

According to the Collins English dictionary, camaraderie is a feeling of trust and friendship among a group of people who have usually known each other for a long time or gone through some kind of experience together. This is what I felt being part of the KM4AgDChallenge family.

Some of the key tenets of a family are togetherness, compassion, trust, friendship.  The KM4AgD Challenge team fit that description. The Lead facilitators Dr Andreas Brandner and Mr Benjamin Abugri and guest speakers were friendly and used delivery approaches that were conducive for adult learners. Despite the virtual nature of the course, it felt as if we were together in one physical classroom.

The blend of methodologies including simulation-group work, follow ups, WhatsApp reminders, videos, all made learning easy. The art walk during the conference cannot be forgotten. If I missed a session, I would be sure to find it in the class folder, or, even before checking the folder, I would contact the trainers or fellow participants for a quick brief-which they gladly did.

Above: Dr Andreas sharing light moments with some of the participants from Uganda Elizabeth Asiimwe (Left) and Charles Masereka (right).

 

These flexible methodologies complemented by sharing light moments, celebrating one another were my social highlights which contributed a lot to learning. Any chance of any members meeting could not go unnoticed-whether it was Dr Andreas meeting with some participants at a conference in the Southern part of Africa, Mr Benjamin meeting with participants in related avenue in Uganda, or fellow participants meeting at a conference in Benin, Uganda, we would not miss the happy ‘selfies’ on the class WhatsApp group. What a great family!

Staying connected…

At the end of the challenge, participants were inaugurated in the Community of Practice for Knowledge Management. I am overjoyed that this high energy will continue. Each of the participants was unique and has a lot to offer.

As I write this, I am on a process to recover from the jetlag, having arrived this morning from the #KM4AgChallenge conference in Ghana. It was worth it! The intellectual exchanges, the interaction, the hospitality by our Ghanaian hosts, the short trips in Accra are much appreciated. Special thanks to the FARA Executive Director Dr Yemi Akinbamijo for the words of wisdom. He challenged us to apply the learnings and be the best knowledge managers which is a major component of agricultural development in Africa. ‘‘If you rest, you rust’’  remarked Dr Akinbamijo.

A section of participants and organizers during the KM4AgDChallenge Conference in Accra, Ghana

 

Highlights of the training and conference can be seen at the hashtag #KM4AgDChallenge

The KM4AgD Challenge is an integrated, strategic, educational and transformational long-term initiative to advance sustainable agricultural knowledge societies, linked with research to create scientific substance, evidence and outreach for Africa AR4D. It will be a lighthouse project for knowledge-based development in AR4D in Africa, and will take place annually in a growing number of countries. Please look out for the next opportunity!

Gratitude

Thanks to AFAAS, FARA, CCARDESA, ASARECA, CORAF, KDP and partners GFAR, YPARD for organizing the challenge.  Special appreciation to AFAAS, the Uganda Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (UFAAS), and GREAT, Makerere University for enabling me to participate.

We did it! Group 4 teammates-Marc Bappa from Cameroon, Phidel Hazel Arunga from Kenya, Zainab Abdulai from Ghana and Lorato Bailang from Botswana-we made it! The Uganda team-Victoria Mbigidde and Charles Masereka.

As emphasized by all the speakers at the conference, this maiden challenge was just the beginning of the engagement with Knowledge Management. Upwards!

Above (L): Mr Benjamin Abugri and Elizabeth meet in Kampala during the FARA-AFAAS meeting on interoperability of KM and MEL systems; (R): Elizabeth and fellow participant Marc Bappa from Cameroon meet in Kampala during the Africa-wide Agricultural Extension Week co-organized by AFAAS.

 

Above: Dr Andreas (C) meets with participants under CCARDESA in Johannesburg, South Africa.

 

 

Above: Dr Andreas with Elizabeth (L) in Kampala, and Benjamin (R) in Accra

 

 

 

 

For inquiries about the KM4AgD Challenge, please contact:

Mr Benjamin Abugri (FARA); Email: babugri@faraafrica.org

Dr Andreas Brandner (K4DP); Email:  andreas.brandner@k4dp.org

 

 

Blog written by

Elizabeth Asiimwe

CIKM, Uganda Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (UFAAS)

KM4AgD Challenge participant from AFAAS and now,

“Certified Knowledge Manager for Sustainable Development”.

Contact: alizeff@yahoo.com

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