5.11 Knowledge Management Documents and Archive Maintenance
  • 06 Dec 2023
  • 3 Minutes to read
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5.11 Knowledge Management Documents and Archive Maintenance

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Article summary

Knowledge management (or knowledge capitalization) documents, such as lessons learned and best practices, are an important part of the FSC team’s work, and a core deliverable for the FSC Coordinator. 

Purpose: Knowledge management / capitalization documents allow a country FSC to capture, share and effectively manage existing knowledge and experience in order to 1) increase the cluster’s overall efficiency and enhance programme quality; 2) retain critical information (often institutional memory in the humanitarian sector remains ad hoc with limited long-term capture); and 3) allow for course correction, if needed. They allow for FSCs to reflect on what was done, learn from experiences, identify good practices and improve weak practices.  

Lessons Learned, Best Practices and Guidance: The FSC can generate lessons learned (or best practices / joint evaluations) in a number of ways. They may be organised at national level or within particular operational (or sub-national) areas to identify critical food security needs or operational constraints, and strategies to address them. The findings should lead to policy, operational and technical recommendations 

Equally, the FSC should capture best practices and produce guidance (for example on harmonised response packages, see 5.6) as well as SOPs (for example for food distributions during Covid etc.) when the context allows and/or requires it. The Coordinator will typically initiate this work and ensure it is aligned with country specific guidance as well as relevant technical standards and principles (see 1.5.5). 

Archive Maintenance: Another aspect of ‘knowledge management’, and to facilitate institutional memory within the Cluster, is to keep a repository of these types of lessons learned and best practices exercises.

The Coordinator should also ensure that the Cluster team maintains an up to date archive of key prioritised FSC data and processes in addition to core clusters tools (e.g. contact lists, assessment inventories etc.). This is done in close collaboration with the IMO and should include a record of the data sources and calculations for the HNO and HRP , year by year, for example the criteria for prioritization, how the PIN is calculated etc. This will ensure continuity in case of staff changes in the Cluster Team. As per the corporate tool available, all documents should be saved and stored in SharePoint.

What is the role of the FSC Coordinator? The Coordinator is responsible for facilitating the knowledge management/capitalization documents such as lessons learned, best practices or country specific guidance. This is usually done working with the SAG (and with CLA endorsement) or a TWG or taskforce set up for the purpose – depending on the focus area. It can also be done in a more informal manner, for example, through sharing and capturing of good practices.

The Coordinator should consider the following: 

  • In case of a review / evaluation, decide with relevant stakeholders (SAG, CLAs, key partners), what the review/evaluation is meant for, the approach, how and by whom the findings will be used. 
  • In case of a lessons learned exercise, identify the appropriate timing and get support from the main stakeholders (for example, organise a consultative process, including all main stakeholders, to agree on the broad areas that need to be explored, the specific questions that need to be answered, and how to proceed).
  • Decide whom should conduct the review/evaluation (internal vs. external facilitation). Someone should be assigned to plan and manage the exercise and should be able to devote sufficient time to it and the team composition (e.g. gender, culture, language, target audience).
  • In preparation for the review/evaluation process, agree on the questions to be raised. Generally, these should be detailed as per the specific context and include: What worked? (and why? - what are the best practices?), What didn’t work? (and why?), and What should we do differently next time? What are the lessons and recommendations?
  • Lessons and targeted recommendations should be drawn out (that are concrete, actionable and realistic). 
  • Ensure that an action plan is developed to follow up on recommendations. The plan should clearly specify responsibilities for follow-up actions, a timeline and how implementation will be monitored.
  • Elaborate/provide comments to the report and implement changes with assigned responsibilities.
  • Provide feedback on the results to the affected community and to other stakeholders.

Examples: FSC specific examples include FSS Haiti Good Practices and Lessons Learned (2017); Final Report - Mozambique Food Security Cluster After Action Review (2017); FSC Mahasen Response Gap Analysis and Map (2014). See also Inter-Agency Real Time Evaluation of the Humanitarian Response to Typhoons Ketsana and Parma in the Philippines (2010).  

Resources: See FAO Guidance on Capturing Good Practice (FAO website).

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