What is the name of your Initiative?

Regional Water Knowledge Management Initiative

What is the name and email address of the initiative leader? Please add a picture if you wish.

Stéphanie Maurissen, smaurissen@care.org

What is the learning objective (what you or your group planned to learn from your initiative?

The objective was to learn from each other through a collective library and community of practice; a central depository of ideas and documents to be of everyone’s use. We hope to use the lessons learned from all different countries throughout the region to influence our programming, not just the learning from one project or country.

Who was involved in the initiative (who facilitiated, who participated)?

Stéphanie was the “facilitator” and the consolidator of all the information but all the documents and ideas came from the country offices. Ideas on the community of practice themes were discussed during several field visits and regional meetings. Country water coordinators and sector staff sent project documents and reflection pieces. The majority of water resource-related staff in the Latin American region was involved in some part of the initiative and will be able to use the final product.

What were the three or four main activities of your initiative?

1) Development of a guide to assist the country offices in compiling interesting information. This was an activity that was encompassed within the LAC multi-sector water resource management program funded by the LAC Program Partnership Agreement between CARE UK and DfID. The guide was sent to Country Offices to be considered in the search for adequate documents to be placed in the virtual library.
2) Country office discussions as to what the priorities are in the region and what themes to be included within the community of practice. These discussions were held during several regional meetings that were convened over the past few months. Topics of interests that were identified included: climate change, innovation, water in schools, work with the private sector, etc.
3) Completion of several consultancies to document models that will be publicized within the virtual library. Country offices were invited to submit terms of reference for documentation of different models. Two models were chosen and consultants have been contracted. The Water in Schools Project in Nicaragua was documented through several focus group discussions and interviews with key stakeholders by an external consultant. The documentation of the experience of Management of the Watershed of the Santa Rosa Water System in the Ecuadorian Amazon is being completed by a CARE employee who is working in the project. This will provide for internal reflection and lessons learned. Both of these models will be posted as part of the virtual library.
4) Development of the virtual library and community of practice tool. With all the documents and feedback on categories of interest, a summer intern, with the assistance of the Organizational learning and Development Unit, worked on developing the actual Sharepoint site. This site is currently in English and in Spanish. Invitations were sent to an initial group of 50 contacts the last week of July. Initial feedback has been very positive, with many new contacts being added to the list each day.

Knowledge Sharing involves creating, sharing and using knowledge. The following questions pertain to these steps. Your initiative may not have covered all three steps. Please answer the questions applicable to your initiative.

What knowledge did you create in your initiative, if any?

Knowledge was not created for say; the knowledge that has been kept within Country Offices or within the same project has become more available to others who are interested. The knowledge that was generated relates to the wealth of information the CARE has within its decentralized structure that could be used and disseminated at a much higher level.

What methods did you use to create this knowledge?

During several regional meetings, reflection was encouraged as to what are the new priorities within the water sector in the region. Several consultancies were alsao completed on the different themes of interest.

Who did you share this knowledge with?

The knowledge is being shared between country offices (and most likely between individuals within the same country office) and with CARE International.

What methods did you use to share this knowledge?

We used a guide to help identify the knowledge that has been created or should be documented. We are also using a Sharepoint site as a launch for our virtual library and community of practice.

Who used the knowledge you created or shared?

We have just opened the Sharepoint site. We hope that the knowledge will be used by different country offices to give substance to future proposals, projects, etc. We want to learn from each other’s mistakes and successes and discuss current important themes so that CARE can emerge as a regional leader in certain interesting and innovative areas. We hope to open the site to external collaborators so that they will see our wealth of knowledge and will be able to join our cause.

How did they use this knowledge?

The different country offices will hopefully use the knowledge to write new proposals based on what other countries have already learned and to share current problems and successes between similar projects. External collaborators we hope will use this knowledge to advocate for our models and share their own successful models. We hope this will create a continuous dialogue between interested parties to provide a more substantive solution to the problems facing the water sector in Latin America.

What lessons about knowledge sharing did you learn from your initiative?

We’ve seen the following lessons learned:
- Although knowledge sharing is seen as important within the organization, very few projects have knowledge sharing as an objective.
- Through the different round table discussions, we have learned that many country offices are completing similar work but with very little knowledge of what each other is doing.
Within the same project, many lessons and reflection ideas are not analyzed unless there is a space for such work.
- Based on the level of interest in the Sharepoint site, staff is interested in knowledge sharing ands in contributing.
- This type of tool should be replicated in other sectors, as many colleagues from different sectors have shown interest in creating their own site.

What future activities are you planning based on these lessons?

We hope to use this site as a pilot to show other sectors and/or other regions. We hope they will replicate this work, based on their interests and needs. We hope that we will be able to continue to receive technical assistance from the Organizational Learning and Development Unit to refine our ideas and activities.