Although each country faces unique challenges in meeting the health needs of its population, within a geographic region, governments, civil society organizations, and donors can benefit from learning from the experiences of their counterparts in other countries. K4Health has partnered with two regional bodies to improve health in West Africa through strengthened collaboration, coordination, and knowledge management (KM).
West African Health Organization Knowledge Management and Information Technology Assessment
Headquartered in Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, the West Africa Health Organization (WAHO) serves its 15 member countries as a specialized institution of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), responsible for regional health integration that enables high-impact and cost-effective interventions and programs. WAHO sought to improve communication and internal information synthesis and to share targeted family planning and other health information with its 15 member countries. Given this goal, K4Health worked with WAHO to conduct a KM and information technology (IT) assessment to identify internal and external knowledge exchange needs, determine and help establish IT tools to facilitate communication, and identify knowledge management champions to build sustainable systems. Findings revealed areas for improvement in knowledge sharing where KM tools and approaches can help strengthen WAHO’s internal and external communication, and improve effectiveness and efficiency of projects.
Ouagadougou Partnership Knowledge Management Assessment
The Ouagadougou Partnership (OP) was created in 2011 and includes nine Francophone West African countries, donors, and civil society members with objectives to elevate the position of family planning in the social and economic landscape of the partnership countries, to accelerate the implementation of the countries’ family planning strategies and action plans, and to ensure coordination of donor investments. The Ouagadougou Partnership Coordinating Unit (OPCU) facilitates coordination among donors and member countries, as well as the sharing of information, progress, challenges, and successes among member countries.
In the Fall of 2014, K4Health conducted an online survey and key informant interviews with OP members. Analysis of results confirmed challenges already identified by the partnership with regards to knowledge management (KM), in particular:
- Effectively exchanging knowledge on the status and implementation of the plans
- Prioritizing the most strategic content and functionality of its new website
- Developing a mutual understanding of roles and responsibilities
- Effective communication, south-to-south learning, and exchange of best practices within the partnership
In response to these challenges, the OPCU utilizes KM approaches to enhance internal and external communications. The growing success of the OP has allowed the OPCU to wear many hats as the coordinating mechanism of the Partnership. They have focused on tracking progress and enhancing monitoring and evaluation (M&E) techniques, facilitating south-south exchange, sponsoring learning trips, arranging opportunities for technical assistance, promoting the OP globally to increase donor buy-in, and other countless projects to support the OP members individually and collectively.
K4Health is working closely with the OPCU to provide technical support for the their KM needs. Specifically, K4Health’s services include collecting region- and language-specific stories from members on the value of the Partnership in achieving positive regional and global FP outcomes. These stories are posted in French and English on the FP Voices Tumblr site, featured by FP2020, and promoted via social media to enhance global access to Francophone West African FP content and by Francophone audiences.