How to Build a Striving Knowledge Sharing Institution – A “Fishbowl” with MAAIF Uganda

Entering a new stage of the ongoing support to country institutions, the World Bank (WB) hosted during the first week of May a unique event with the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) of Uganda. Held in Washington DC, representatives from the MAAIF went through an in-depth process of self-assessment, strategy design and action plans for improving the ministry’s Knowledge Sharing (KS) capacities, launching thereby a medium-term engagement with the WB. In a fishbowl-type of experience, the Ugandan delegation was joined and supported by selected experts and facilitators from all over the world.

As stressed by recent policy mandates (among them, the Second High-Level Meeting on Knowledge Hubs and the First High-Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation), governments are committed with becoming strong KS players and investing in the knowledge agenda at the internal/institutional, domestic and international levels. Not only is the South-South agenda a vital driver for KS, but more and more leaders and practitioners are also looking into improving the effectiveness and sustainability of their institutions’ operations in an ever changing domestic context.

In this context, the conceptual and practical framework developed by the WB in close collaboration with a wide range of partners and stakeholders has become a key reference. Its eight pillars respond to clear-cut steps in two main areas. On the one hand, an enabling environment should encompass a strong KS culture, an adequate governance, financing options and strategic approaches to knowledge-driven partnerships. On the other hand, technical skills should enable institutions to capture their best solutions, package them for mutual learning, chose the right modalities to share knowledge, and finally monitor and evaluate the impacts of KS (see diagram for more details).

Based on this KS framework, the Ugandan MAAIF conducted two kick-off workshops on its institutional approaches to KS (including self-assessment, visioning and action plans), as well as principles and guidelines for putting these in practice (leadership, policy and strategy). The workshops will be completed by a second gathering in late June looking into knowledge capturing and packaging. As a result of this first stage, the MAAIF teams envisioned to become an efficient and effective knowledge sharing hub in the agricultural sector in Uganda. To launch the path towards achieving this vision, a number of key actions for the next weeks were agreed. These include launching a Knowledge Sharing Technical Working Group (KSTWG) which will be in charge of fleshing out and validating the KS Strategy 2015-2020, which will focus particularly on continued knowledge capturing and impact-oriented KS with domestic and international partners, particularly within the existing Sector Working Group. Partnering with the local governments of Uganda’s 112 districts and the wide range of farmers’ organizations will be a priority. Furthermore and importantly, this Fishbowl event provided an opportunity for MAAIF to gather around the KS agenda from different operational perspectives and thematic departments. It achieved to build up a historic momentum in MAAIF's quest for knowledge as an enabler and channel for effective sustainable development.

MAAIF and WB will gather again in late June for the second round of workshops focusing on technical skills for KS. By then, MAAIF will have advanced in its KS governance, the strategy document and other elements of its 100-day-plan. Therefore, the June fishbowl will primarily aim at capturing the ministry’s most important knowledge assets, as well as designing modalities to engage in KS at a larger scale and with strong result orientation. In light of the consistent leadership and strong energy emanating from the first fishbowl, MAAIF is set to progress quickly and position itself as a knowledge sharing hub striving for effectiveness and excellence.

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