KM4Dev: Communicate and collaborate to prepare for the unexpected (1) Communities of practice

31 August, 2021

Citation, abstract, conclusion of a new paper in Knowledge Management for Development Journal, and a comment from me below.

CITATION: C. Figueres. 2021. Communicate and collaborate to prepare for the unexpected: the International Institute for Communication and Developmentin the Netherlands. Knowledge Management for Development Journal. Online first.

ABSTRACT: Some 20 years after its foundation in 1996, the International Institute for Communication and Development(IICD), definitively closed. Over the years, IICD proved that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can accelerate socio-economic development and that a methodology based on principles such as multi-stakeholder engagement, demand-driven approach and local ownership, is key to integrate and sustain ICT-enabled activities. IICD investments in enabling individuals, organisations and networks to adequately serve the ICT needs of local stakeholders resulted in conducive environments with experienced partners well suited to offer cost-effective and locally relevant ICT-enabled solutions. Based on the experience of the former Managing Director, this storyexplores the impact of the organization, some five years after its closure. It also expresses her opinions and shares ideas related to the importance of knowledge sharing for preparedness in a post-pandemic world.


'The COVID-19 pandemic taught us that a sense of belonging can be quickly created and does not have to be in the physical world. It can also be a virtual place...

'This is why, in my view, purpose-based networks and community of practices are so relevant for the future. They combine the sense of belonging and trust of the participants to the process of learning and sharing. Furthermore, they are constituted of people that are rooted in daily evidence-based practices, allowing us to continuously do a reality check of the facts and information on the ground. It is about people we trust and about places where clear and respectful communication foster collaboration. A community of practices breeds a culture of learning, mutual accountability and shared responsibility... In the digital environment of a post-pandemic word, new communities of practices... will help us to be better prepared for unexpected change. We have to support them and prevent bubbles of comfort taking over. And, we have to sustain places where knowledge can be shared, beliefs can be challenged and where people can grow in a safe environment. I truly believe that (informal) communities of practices will complement the traditional institutions and offer us additional possibilities to better communicate and collaborate in a fast-changing world, full of unexpected events.'

COMMENT (NPW): I share Caroline's belief that communities of practices (of which HIFA is an example) will play an increasingly important role in international development (and global health), but they require a *lot* more investment to reach their full potential. This includes not only financial investment in individual CoPs (which is currently minuscule) but also investment in ways to increase their collective impact. I believe that the collective impact of CoPs can and will be transformational. HIFA is working with other global health CoPs in this direction:

Best wishes, Neil

Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator,