The Future of Knowledge Management for Family Planning and Reproductive Health Programs
Insights From Four Regional Co-Creation Workshops
What are the behaviors, barriers, and levers to seeking, sharing, and using information?
BY JOB ROLE
Similar to other job roles, they also primarily share information digitally through email and in-person events. However, they also face several challenges when sharing information including limited financing, availability and quality of sources, and a lack of prioritization and ownership for FP/RH.
Program managers often search for information containing monitoring and evaluation data from national surveys, evaluations, and learnings from other programs. Similar to the other job roles, program managers search for this information on the internet but also through WhatsApp, literature reviews, and specialized data sources such as information management systems. They are often able to find the information they need and noted that there are more ways to access information through the internet and other technologies now than in the past. Challenges include difficulties finding high-quality information and a lack of funding to collect routine information.
Program managers primarily use information to raise awareness, for advocacy, and to inform project design and monitoring. However, they face challenges related to using information including lack of resources, institutional reluctance to implement findings, and cultural challenges regarding family planning.
Technical advisors primarily use information to inform decision making among donors and internal program management and design. They use information to gain new perspectives regarding effective practices but face challenges in applying lessons due to low-quality or uncontextualized data.
They primarily share information digitally through email or electronic mailing lists but also through in-person meetings and social media. Collaborations with others allow them to stay up to date and share relevant information, but challenges to sharing information include lack of time and not knowing if the information shared will be used.
Technical advisors often search for contextualized global or national information to inform and improve FP/RH programs and practices. Similar to the other job roles, technical advisors search for this information on the internet and through their social networks, but they also seek information from research. Technical advisors find that the type of information they seek is often available, but challenges include lack of time, poor-quality data, connectivity issues, and access barriers such as language constraints and paywalls.
They primarily use information for advocacy and awareness raising. Conveners noted that decision makers have the political will to use evidence and that these collaborations lead to opportunities to learn from others. However, challenges in measuring how information is used, lack of completeness of information, and social norms on family planning can pose barriers to using information.
Conveners tend to curate information for different audiences but they often do not have time, financial resources, or adequate connectivity to share information.
Conveners often search for advocacy information, program design information, and implementation information to inform policy. Similar to the other job roles, conveners search for this information on the internet and through their social networks. Coordination among partners makes seeking information easier, but access to quality data poses a barrier.
Decision makers primarily use information for decision making, program planning, and advocacy to strengthen capacity and uphold FP/RH commitments. However, challenges to using information include poor-quality data, lack of relevant “how to” information, and lack of human and financial resources.
Decision makers primarily share information with colleagues, partners, and other stakeholders through email and in-person events. They also noted there are strong platforms to disseminate findings that can help support the development of better output indicators; however, they face challenges when sharing information such as cognitive and choice overload, connectivity issues, cultural considerations, and quality concerns.
Decision makers often search for information to inform program design and implementation and to stay up to date on trends and new developments in the field. Similar to the other job roles, decision makers search for this information on the internet but also through experts and internal program sources. They noted having access to a wealth of high-quality information and that partnerships with others support them to find the information they need. However, they often have to spend a significant amount of time sifting through old or poor-quality information before finding what they are looking for and often lack information regarding behaviors.
Anglophone Africa participants use information to assess progress, inform and refine programming, and advocate and report to donors and the government. Buy-in from partners, accurate information for decision making, and information on project progress support the use of information, but limited funding, lack of digital culture, lack of packaged information, and the need to justify one’s existence as an organization pose barriers to using information.
Anglophone Africa participants tend to share project updates and new guidelines with health care workers, project staff, senior management, government, and donors through reports, presentations, and meetings. Increased internet access and collaborations have made it easier to share information; however, poor attendance at sharing meetings, poor internet connectivity, and lack of time and financial resources for KM pose barriers.
Participants from Anglophone Africa primarily seek information related to the national FP/RH context, the work of other organizations, and implementation data through the internet, phone, conferences, ministry protocols, national databases, or literature searches. Fortunately, online and offline information is available and there are resource persons that serve as sources of information. However, limited resources to conduct detailed searches, paywalls, lack of specific data/lessons learned, and positive bias in project reports pose barriers.
BY JOB ROLE
Participants from Francophone Africa often use information for advocacy and to design, improve, and evaluate programs. Using international standards to develop programs, the prospect of being published, and using information to resolve problems all support the use of information. However, barriers include not knowing if the knowledge shared will be used, lack of priority to use evidence to inform programs, and a reluctance to change among traditional leaders and decision makers.
Participants from Francophone Africa often share information on needs and solutions with policy makers and community members through word of mouth. Coordination between partners/experts, recognition for sharing information, and awareness of the importance of documentation support sharing behaviors. However, social norms regarding FP/RH, sharing in non-technical formats, lack of funding for dissemination, and lack of incentives to share what does not work are challenges.
Participants from Francophone Africa primarily seek information on the FP/RH context in their country through quantitative data and national strategies found via the internet, personal contacts, or other informal channels. Fortunately, this type of information is accessible online; however, data are often incomplete, old or not specific enough, information is not available in French, and many people do not have internet outside of the office, which makes seeking information a challenge.
Participants from Asia use information for program design and improvement to review program progress and inform strategy development. A strong desire to learn and the availability of FP/RH indicators support the use of information. However, cultural barriers and reluctance to try something new pose barriers to using information.
Participants from Asia tend to share project updates and new guidelines internally with their teams, regional offices, and senior management through meetings, informal conversations, and emails. Collaborations support information sharing, but lack of internet connection, siloed work streams, and lack of financial resources for KM pose barriers to sharing.
Participants from Asia primarily seek information on the national FP/RH context and programs through primary data collection or quantitative data, and technical guidelines found via the web, national networks, and personal contacts. Internet and technology have improved their access to data and information; however, barriers to seeking information include information being old, inaccurate or not specific enough, data sets require doing individual analysis, a lack of skilled personnel able to use existing technologies, and paywalls.
Participants from the United States use information for external communication, advocacy, fundraising, and promoting best practices through written and verbal formats. Working in a continuously evolving field, using evidence and data to improve programs, and opportunities to learn and partner encourage the use of information. However, language barriers, too much information, too little time, reluctance to incorporate new information, and trusting the validity of information pose barriers to the use of information.
Participants from the United States primarily share information on program activities and lessons learned through meetings, social media, conferences, and email. Positive feedback from others, systems to vet information for accuracy, support for information sharing, and donor investments in KM all support the sharing of information. However, barriers include the quantity of webinars and reports, language, not knowing who is interested in the information, lack of time, and the need to ensure information is accurate before sharing.
Participants from the United States often seek success stories, program data, best practices, and innovations from global partners through verbal or written updates, conferences, electronic mailing lists, and various websites. Fortunately, coalitions exist for information sharing, experts are often willing to collaborate and help, and there is a wealth of open-access information. However, challenges to seeking information include the overwhelming quantity of information, length of information, level of technicality, lack of practical use, dearth of information from smaller partners, lack of time, and the need to continuously search for information from the same sources.
Job role comparison charts
Region comparison charts
What are some of the positives, opportunities, and challenges in knowledge management for FP/RH programs?
Five key themes emerged across all four regional workshops
Information Availability and Accessibility
Financing, Policies, and Programmatic Issues
Information Availability and Accessibility
Financing, Policies, and Programmatic Issues
FP/RH has become increasingly accessible and available (Anglophone Africa, Asia, United States).
There is increased awareness of the importance of KM among FP/RH stakeholders (Francophone Africa)
There is a growing willingness among individuals and institutions to share best practices (Asia, United States).
Research in FP/RH is creating a stronger evidence base (Anglophone Africa)
There is still potential to fully use and translate existing data into action (Anglophone Africa).
Simplifying or synthesizing data and information can make it more contextual and relevant and timely, and can ensure data quality helps promote use (Asia, United States)
Standardizing tools can help improve documentation of best practices and evidence (Francophone
Best practices are not
always comprehensively documented, contextualized, or packaged in a way that is easy to use (Anglophone Africa, Francophone Africa, United States)
Lack of information on what does not work (Anglophone Africa, Asia, United States)
Too many information sources (Anglophone Africa, Francophone Africa, Asia, United States)
Data/information is sometimes behind paywalls (Anglophone Africa, Francophone Africa, Asia)
Lack of timely and reliable information (Asia)
Lack of resources in French (Francophone Africa, United States)
Lack of Asia-specific information (Asia)
Some information “disappears” because it is not fully documented or shared (United States)
Concerns over the ethical use of data (Asia, United States)
Organizational practices that do not support the growth of KM in FP/RH, such as the fear of sharing failures (Asia,
Sharing and collaborations are currently taking place among individuals and organizations, in formal and informal networks (all regions)
Significant opportunities to expand collaborations, including through virtual mediums such as Zoom (all regions)
Difficulties with harmonizing partner approaches (Francophone Africa, Asia)
Reluctance to share information due to competition for donor funding (United States)
of the importance of KM has translated to more readily available resources in the field (Anglophone Africa)
willingness from senior management and donors to adopt innovative approaches to improve programs (Asia and United
Information sharing technology is now frequently available for professionals (all regions)
Organizational culture hinders accountability and innovation, such as projects possibly perpetuating biased results for continued funding (Anglophone Africa)
Lack of sufficient funding for program design and implementation
FP/RH is still considered taboo in some environments (Asia)
of KM professionals in the FP/RH community who are helping to ensure documentation and dissemination of lessons learned (United States)
FP/RH professionals have strong intrinsic motivations to manage and learn how to improve programs (United States, Asia)
Data collection capacity is increasingly available (Francophone Africa)
for learning to strengthen capacity for KM, which can build upon intrinsic motivation (Francophone
The addition of new
voices, such as youth, strengthens the resources available to the field and may change how knowledge is perceived and weighted (United States)
Challenges still remain in regard to human resources, and there is still a lack of KM capacity (Francophone Africa)
High attrition rates in the field cause issues with human resources and long-term capacity within organizations (Asia)
to FP/RH at the global level through several international commitments (e.g., Sustainable Development Goals, FP2020) that have translated to more conducive national-level policies (all regions)
Opportunities to increase collaboration with the private sector, which may open up a new avenue for resource mobilization (Francophone Africa)
Lack of sufficient funding for FP/RH and KM (Francophone Africa, Asia, United States)
(Click on the themes and hover over the dots to see the roses, buds, thorns)
Download the Rose, Bud, Thorn table
These are the top ranked innovations by theme.
Culture and Capacity
& Data Repositories
& Data Repositories
Culture and Capacity
Virtual platform/network for sharing, such as LinkedIn for best practices, a membership network to access insights, or WhatsApp groups
FP solutions advisors or multidisciplinary experts to help new implementers start projects or review FP plans for latest evidence
Learning forums, sessions, or workshops at country/regional level
Communities of practice (COP)
COP management/coordination (ministry of health/regional secretariat)
Incentives for participation in communities of practice or for sharing data (such as submitting to a repository)
Virtual reality (simulated, computer-generated) interactions to network, connect, and interact
Exchange visits or regional fellowships to assist or learn from other programs
Mentoring between senior and junior professionals
National KM focal point to identify, collect, and share local knowledge
The workshop participants collectively generated and prioritized 650 innovative ideas to solve problems centered around curating knowledge, connecting people to that knowledge, or strengthening knowledge management capacity.
Develop programs in coordination with governments, donors, and civil society
Framework for collaboration among researchers, professionals, and policymakers
Steering committee on using data effectively
Map existing regional data exchanges and sharing
Including audio or video options for evidence/documentation
Requiring graphics and illustrations in documentation
Synthesize data tailored to learning style, country, or other needs
Reassess how information is shared and adjust documentation accordingly
Highlighting rarely heard community voices to increase the range of knowledge shared
Best practice toolkits or training and tools to document, share, and use practical information
Anonymous or incentivized stories of failure
Best practice brochures/magazines/journals or certified/branded best practices
Template for documentation/reporting
Improved or simplified data repository (e.g. Alexa/Siri-like search functions or machine learning to suggest data or autotranslation)
Open or free access to information/data
Simplify existing sharing platforms
KM modules for real-time learning or training for students and professionals on using KM tools
Online skills-strengthening platform
Capacity strengthening in innovative data approaches
Sensitization workshops on new KM tools/techniques for stakeholders
KM budget allocation in grants
Live KM support desk
Regional fund to learn about creation and use of evidence in region
Download the top ranked innovations table
READ THIS REPORT
READ THIS REPORT
For more information about the four regional co-creation workshops
This interactive report summary is made possible by the support of the American People through the U.S. Agency for International Development under the Knowledge SUCCESS (Strengthening Use, Capacity, Collaboration, Exchange, Synthesis, and Sharing) Project Cooperative Agreement No. 7200AA19CA00001 with the Johns Hopkins University. Knowledge SUCCESS is supported by USAID's Bureau for Global Health, Office of Population and Reproductive Health and led by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (CCP) in partnership with Amref Health Africa, The Busara Center for Behavioral Economics (Busara), and FHI 360. The information provided in this interactive report summary are the sole responsibility of Knowledge SUCCESS and does not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the U.S. Government, or the Johns Hopkins University.
Knowledge SUCCESS hosted a series of four regional workshops in mid 2020 with FP/RH professionals from Anglophone Africa, Francophone Africa, Asia, and the United States. Through a design thinking approach rooted in empathy and behavioral economics, participants worked collaboratively to identify common barriers and behaviors that are limiting the flow of family planning knowledge between programs, countries, and regions— and opportunities to transform the way our FP/RH community approaches knowledge management. Scroll down for an overview of key insights from the workshops.
Learn about our plans to launch new knowledge innovations
Biases against using evidence from non-Western countries (Asia, United States)