In Eastern and Central Africa (ECA), a lot of data and information is generated at local, national and regional levels by a range of stakeholders. However, this information remains inaccessible or is of little help because it is largely either in raw form, packaged in inappropriate formats, poorly targeted, or not tested for integrity. The Information, Communication and Knowledge Management (ICKM) intervention is aimed at addressing these challenges by undertaking the following initiatives and processes:
Embedding ICKM in research planning and processes: ASARECA facilitates the process of generation, collection, collation, processing, and dissemination of data, information at the Secretariat and among NARS by: (i) Raising awareness among ICKM staff of the NARIs and researchers on the importance of embedding CKM into the Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D) knowledge process; (ii) engaging NARIs to identify potent data mining opportunities and refining tools and approaches for data mining; (iii) identifying human resources and skills gaps to collect, collate, package and disseminate AR4D knowledge.
Establishing and effectively managing regional databases: ASARECA coordinates initiatives aimed at supporting NARIs to establish and manage databases and decision-support tools to feed into regional databases by: (i) identifying and facilitating access to tested system models, modelling approaches and support tools, (ii) developing standardized data collection formats and tools, (iii) undertaking institutional needs assessment, recommending solutions and areas for support, (iv) mapping out knowledge and information resources for integration into the ASARECA KI-Hub, (v) linking selected resources to the KI-Hub.
Coordinating quality control and data integrity: ASARECA works with experts from NARIs to build capacity to process and test raw data sets and turn them into usable formats, products and services by: (i) Convening meetings for M&E experts to assess various data sets, developing and applying standardized data collection formats, (ii) undertaking refresher training of experts to enhance their capacity in data processing and development of knowledge products and services, and (iii) establishing credible data and information quality assurance systems.
Identifying effective mechanisms for dissemination of knowledge outputs: ASARECA works with multi-disciplinary teams from the NARS to facilitate effective exchange to data, information and knowledge within the NARIs and the Secretariat through: (i) identification of mechanisms and tools for effective sharing of data, information and knowledge, (ii) identifying and deploying mechanisms for effective feedback and demand articulation, and (iii) undertaking sensitisation to promote the culture of knowledge sharing.
Undertaking ICKM capacity strengthening: ASARECA convenes annual capacity-strengthening engagements for ICKM and M&E experts to enhance their efficiency. The initiative is done through: (i) Commissioning rapid assessments of strengths, challenges and needs of the NARIs, (ii) convening joint meetings to identify success cases within members for transfer to poorly performing countries, (iii) brokering partnerships for capacity development in identified areas.
Jointly identifying ICKM priorities: ASARECA tracks ICKM prioritisation in member countries by: (i) scanning the network to know which country is in need of a new strategy or refreshing; (ii) facilitating joint identification of ICKM priorities, (iii) facilitating ICKM comparative analysis to identify critical and crosscutting issues, and (iv) supporting less resourced countries to develop their strategies.
Developing and disseminating knowledge products: ASARECA engages constituents in consultations to develop knowledge products to inform research processes and improve efficiency. Some of these products include journal articles, corporate reports, proceedings, study reports, status and research reports, technical papers, policy briefs etc. These products are disseminated through existing knowledge platforms, including websites, newsletters, workshop handouts; and other multimedia.
Creating an interoperable framework for knowledge sharing: ASARECA has established and continues to strengthen the Regional Technology and Information Hub to promote inter-operability by: (i) sensitizing partners on the benefits of a centralized technology hub, hence securing endorsement by NARIs to operate as the Regional Hub; (ii) creating a framework for sharing knowledge resources; (iii) promoting compatibility of systems; (iv) creating a regional inventory of Technologies, Innovations and Management Practices (TIMPs) listed in national catalogues; and (v) validating TIMPs and making them available in a database.