K4Health Share Fair Ignites Conversation Among East African Family Planning Implementers

Family Planning Workforce

Rebecca Shore

CCP | Program Officer II
Share Fair Logo

Sometimes the link between knowledge management and saving lives doesn’t feel direct or causal. Getting people the right information at the right time doesn’t necessarily increase the number of health workers or cure a particular disease. However, with limited resources and overwhelming need, duplication of effort and replication of failure can be catastrophic. With techniques such as knowledge sharing and knowledge exchange, implementers from around the globe can avoid duplicating failures and increase successes to ultimately save lives.

After the great success of the 2013 Global Health Knowledge Management Share Fair, K4Health wanted to bring together a new group of individuals to focus a conversation around meeting the FP2020 goal of providing 120 million additional women and girls around the world with access to voluntary family planning by 2020. On September 10th and 11th, 50 implementers and representatives from collaborating organizations came together in Arusha, Tanzania, to share family planning challenges and successes. Maurice Hiza from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare Tanzania opened The East Africa Share Fair: Knowledge Exchange to Accelerate Progress Toward FP2020’s Goal. His enthusiasm and forward-thinking remarks really set the stage for a truly useful and motivational beginning to the two-day conversation. Miriam Lutz, Health Office Director for USAID Tanzania, also spoke, showing a strong commitment to the FP2020 goals and the event’s great task of bringing together implementers from around the region to share ideas, successes and challenges. Andréa Ferrand of USAID Washington rounded off the welcome, emphasizing that knowledge management is essential to meet FP2020’s goal. 

Representing Zambia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and the United States, participants were excited and grateful for the opportunity to not only share their own program successes and challenges but also to hear from others working in the region. Many had never attended a Share Fair before and welcomed the chance to establish new networks and make new connections with their peers.

The event, though specifically focused on family planning, employed numerous knowledge management techniques to expose the participants to new and fun ways of sharing information. Participants used different knowledge management techniques throughout the event, learning firsthand about how knowledge management can be applied to family planning and overall health.

The Share Fair featured panel presentations, breakout sessions, knowledge cafés, and discussions that connected participants and shed light on opportunities for future collaboration in family planning. One of the best breakout sessions covered family planning advocacy, improvement science, knowledge management for family planning, and demand generation for life-saving commodities. Since participants were only able to attend one session each, they engaged in a visual storytelling activity to report key findings from their session back to the full group, which everyone really enjoyed.

On the second day of the Share Fair, USAID’s Senior Learning Advisor, Stacey Young, attended virtually to share the ins and outs of USAID’s Collaborating, Learning and Adapting (CLA) approach. Stuart Belle of The QED Group shared how some of the CLA ideas are being implemented in the Uganda USAID mission. Many participants were learning about CLA for the first time and were keen to hear how it might be applicable to the work they were doing.

The Share Fair fostered both meaningful discussion and opportunities for collaboration. Not only did it offer people working in different countries an opportunity to share ideas, but it also facilitated networking among people who work in the same country on the same initiatives but had not met. It was truly a pleasure to be a part of an event that was so well received. Keep an eye on the K4Health blog over the next few weeks for my colleagues’ reflections on the East Africa Share Fair.

To get a small glimpse of the great event, take a look at #EastAfricaFPShareFair.

If you’re interested in learning more, or if you have questions, contact Rebecca Shore.