The Resource Centre Network (RCN) and Knowledge Management (KM) initiative in Ghana
The Resource Centre Network (RCN) is an institutional partnership that seeks to promote Knowledge Management (KM) services within the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector in Ghana.
The process of establishing RCN originally started back in October, 2002 with series of investigative studies which informed decisions on priority activities. The Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) in association with TREND Group, WaterAid (Ghana) and IRC organized an Advocacy workshop on May 12/13, 2004 in Accra on knowledge management. Subsequently, four key sector organizations namely, WaterAid Ghana; Water Research Institute; KNUST- Department of Civil Engineering and TREND Group joined hands to form the nucleus of the Resource Centre Network (RCN) to spearhead knowledge management in the water and sanitation sector in Ghana. The outcome of the Knowledge Management Advocacy Workshop was the establishment of a Task Force which brought together about a dozen key organisations in May 2004. The activities of the Task Force were led by the CWSA and the Group met regularly until December 2006. Overall the Task Force made positive gains in terms of advocacy aimed at raising awareness of knowledge management (KM). Key outputs of the group also included a Concept Paper for development of KM in the sector.
However, the activities of the Task Force slowed down considerably in 2006 due to lack of funding. In 2008, the inception of new projects in the sector with a focus on knowledge generation and dissemination (UNICEF/WHO Water and Sanitation Monitoring Programme (WSMP), the Tripartite Partnership Project (TPP) led by TREND, the WASHCost and SWITCH Projects which are led by KNUST, and the West Africa Regional Programme of IRC, which supports RCN, etc.) provided a new impetus for the revival of the RCN. A Secretariat was set up and a new National Knowledge Management Coordinator, appointed since June 2008 to oversee the activities of the Network and Secretariat. A core group of knowledge focused organizations was formed and revived and intensified knowledge management activities in the sector. The current Phase of the RCN is governed by a steering committee and is anchored in the Water Directorate of the Ministry of Water Resources Works and Housing.
The RCN secretariat provides the following products and services:
- Learning platforms: The RCN organizes the monthly National Level Learning Alliance Platform (NLLAP) and periodically Regional Level Learning Alliance platforms (RLLAPs) where a wide range of stakeholders in the WASH sector meet to discuss topical issues in the sector for purposes of learning and policy influencing.
- Sector newsletter: The RCN coordinates the production and editing of a national sector newsletter, WASHNEWS
- Sector website (www.washghana.net): The RCN coordinates the update of the WASHGhana website. It also offers free publishing (on the website) of sector articles, reports and information on upcoming and / or past events and activities. The website, established and hosted by IRC is regularly updated by the Secretariat. The site has information on RCN and partners, a sector calendar, an overview of upcoming and past events; news and themes on community, rural and urban WASH, etc. There are also links to several other resource centre websites from across the globe. For publishing on the site please send your articles, reports and information to email@example.com
- Brochure, fact sheets, and thematic papers: RCN offers information materials like the WASH Reflections (two page reports on the monthly NLLAPs), brochures, Ghana Fact Sheets, etc. These short briefing notes in response to frequently asked questions provide information to key themes. These papers are made available both in hard as well as soft copy format, and are accessible on the sector website.
- Training and capacity building: The RCN encourages the building of a minimum capacity for knowledge management like, information storage and usage within each sector organization at the national, regional and district levels.
- Establishment of media platform –‘WASH Agenda’: RCN works closely with the (GWJN) to establish an interactive programme on WASH issues. This platform brings key sector actors involved with WASH governance to interact, share with sector and non-sector audiences.
- Questions and answer service: The RCN offers enquiry services. The secretariat directly provides answers in response to specific problems and queries.
- Sector walk-in library: The RCN has developed a Resource Centre (library). Key sector publications are available to sector stakeholders, institutions and agencies.
- Organization of sector learning platforms: The RCN works closely with sector Ministries and agencies and umbrella groups like CONIWAS to organise annual sector leaning and sharing events like The Ghana Water Forum, NESCON, MOLE Conference series among others.
- Documentation of case studies: The RCN works closely with sector agencies and projects to document, analyze and draw out the lessons from programmes and provide recommendations on the minimum conditions of success, helping to direct funding towards the most effective interventions.