Type to search

Project News Reading Time: 4 minutes

A Look at This Year’s Knowledge Exchange in East Africa

Since 2019, Knowledge SUCCESS has been building momentum in improving access to and quality of family planning/reproductive health (FP/RH) programs by strengthening knowledge management (KM) capacities among relevant stakeholders in East Africa.

To get to the place we are today, we have taken the time to understand the needs and priorities of our regional audience members through various activities, including a landscape analysis and a co-creation workshop. During the COVID-19 shutdown, we engaged stakeholders through virtual activities including developing a regional community of practice for FP/RH professionals called, TheCollaborative, holding a series of KM capacity strengthening workshops, facilitating webinars and dialogues, and developing content with and for the regional FP/RH workforce to document programs and their successes.We’ve also taken the opportunity to build partnerships among other regional FP/RH bodies and champions to boost awareness, appreciation, and expansion of KM to strengthen FP/RH programs. Fast forward to mid-way through 2023, the momentum and energy behind our project activities are peaking through a variety of innovative, impactful KM approaches and convenings. 

Read on to learn more about what we’ve been up to lately in East Africa.

Our Partnership with FP2030 East & Southern Africa Hub

In June, during the FP2030 Anglophone Focal Point Convening, Knowledge SUCCESS hosted a session for Youth and CSO Focal Points titled, Creating Youth/FP Centers of Excellence: What Works and What Doesn’t in FP Programming, showcasing the experiences from the four regional panelists. This activity’s impact and importance is multifold:

  1. The session adopted the format of a ‘fail fest,’ which is a KM approach aimed at learning from program implementation failures. The appreciation and value of sharing failures and learning from them is something that is gaining traction among our project, as well as other important stakeholders including USAID, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, WHO, IBP Network, among others. One participant reflected after the event – “Consider failure as not falling and failure is not final. It presents a stepping stone to re-position actions to better respond to the existing situation.”
  2. Youth, and increasing their representation in decision-making roles, is a priority within the region, and therefore within our project. Having a session specifically tailored for Youth Focal Points and focused on sharing experiences on what worked well and what didn’t in developing youth centers, was highly appreciated by the focal points. 
  3. Since the establishment of the FP2030 East & Southern Africa Hub in March 2022, our Knowledge SUCCESS East Africa team and the Hub have been focused on building areas of partnership and collaboration. Through this partnership, Knowledge SUCCESS has been able to plan and facilitate sessions that increase knowledge sharing and strengthen the KM capacity of the focal points.

Collaboration and Connection through Knowledge Exchange Events

Participants gather for an in-person meeting of TheCollaborative, an East Africa CoP for FP/RH professionals in Kampala, Uganda.

Due to the establishment of TheCollaborative, a regional community of practice (CoP) for FP/RH professionals, the Knowledge SUCCESS East Africa team has cultivated a community of FP/RH professionals that are now aware of and appreciate the power of KM in their work. Since its inception in 2020, TheCollaborative has held virtual quarterly meetings among its membership to discuss and define regional FP/RH priorities, share program experiences, and learn about platforms and tools that are relevant for their work. Through these efforts, Knowledge SUCCESS now has committed and skilled champions in the region that are able to speak to the importance of KM and the platforms and resources that the project develops. In turn, these champions will be an important piece of sustaining the CoP moving forward, in addition to keeping KM a valued aspect of FP/RH programs.

In June, Knowledge SUCCESS was able to hold the first-ever in-person gathering with CoP members through a one-day Knowledge Exchange Event in Kampala, Uganda. During this event, the Uganda-based members experienced a full day of networking, learning, and skill building, including:

  1. A networking session that provided CoP members the ability to meet each other in-person and hear updates on CoP activities and engagement opportunities within the Uganda-based membership. Members of the Steering Committee, which are elected annually, co-led this session of the knowledge exchange event.
  2. A KM skill shot on how to use Knowledge SUCCESS’ FP insight platform to support and enhance their work in FP/RH by providing a place to organize their go-to resources while also exposing them to new FP/RH-related resources. One of the Youth KM Champions that the project has been working with, led the skill shot session on FP insight.
  3. A peer-to-peer learning session on equity in FP/RH Programming, in partnership with the Research for Scalable Solutions (R4S) project, where we shared research findings and engaged participants using the KM approach, Troika Consulting, to help them examine the successes and challenges related to equity within their FP/RH programming. Three alumni from a cohort of Knowledge SUCCESS’ Learning Circles in East Africa facilitated the Troika session.

In July, the same approach was used for a Knowledge Exchange Event held immediately following the Women Deliver Conference in Kigali, Rwanda with Rwanda-based CoP members.

Participants gather for an in-person meeting of TheCollaborative, an East Africa CoP for FP/RH professionals in Kigali, Rwanda.

In August, Knowledge SUCCESS facilitated a series of knowledge exchange activities with the FP/SRH community in Tanzania. To kick things off, we hosted a Knowledge Exchange Event that included a Troika session, delving into crucial youth challenges in FP/SRH, focusing on knowledge, attitudes, and practices. This event seamlessly complemented Tanzania’s vibrant celebration of International Youth Day, where the project participated in a panel discussion focused on the intersection of Climate Change, SRH, and Youth and youth’s pivotal role in propelling the Population, Health, and Environment agenda in the nation. In addition to Knowledge SUCCESS, the panel included speakers from Restless Development, Marie Stopes, and the Ministry of Health.

Irene Alenga and Collins Otieno participate at the International Youth Day events in Dodoma, Tanzania.

The final Knowledge Exchange Event in this series is scheduled to take place on the 28th of September in Nairobi, Kenya.

Connect with our Work in East Africa

After hearing about all of the exciting activities and opportunities for knowledge exchange of FP/RH information in East Africa, you may be wondering how you can connect with our project. First, if you are working in FP/RH in East Africa, join TheCollaborative to receive announcements of learning events and member meetings. And second, visit our East Africa page to sign up for a Knowledge SUCCESS newsletter focused on East Africa updates and to see recent blog posts on regional programs. Join us as we continue to build the momentum for KM in FP/RH programs in East Africa.

Elizabeth Tully

Senior Program Officer, Knowledge SUCCESS / Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs

Elizabeth (Liz) Tully is a Senior Program Officer at the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs. She supports knowledge and program management efforts and partnership collaborations, in addition to developing print and digital content, including interactive experiences and animated videos. Her interests include family planning/reproductive health, the integration of population, health, and the environment, and distilling and communicating information in new and exciting formats. Liz holds a B.S. in Family and Consumer Sciences from West Virginia University and has been working in knowledge management for family planning since 2009.

Irene Alenga

Knowledge Management and Community Engagement Lead, Amref Health Africa

Irene is an established social economist with over 13 years’ experience in research, policy analysis, knowledge management, and partnership engagement. As a researcher, she has been involved in the coordination and implementation of over 20 social economic research projects in various disciplines within the Eastern African Region. In her work as a Knowledge Management Consultant, Irene has been involved in health-related studies through work with public health and technology-focused institutions in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Malawi where she has successfully teased out impact stories and increased visibility of project interventions. Her expertise in developing and supporting management processes, lessons learned, and best practices is exemplified in the three-year organizational change management and project closure process of the USAID| DELIVER and Supply Chain Management Systems (SCMS) 10-year project in Tanzania. In the emerging practice of Human Centered Design, Irene has successfully facilitated a positive end to end product experience through conducting user experience studies while implementing the USAID| DREAMS Project amongst adolescent girls and young women (AGYWs) in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. Irene is well-versed in resource mobilization and donor management, especially with USAID, DFID, and EU.

Collins Otieno

East Africa FP/RH Technical Officer

Meet Collins, a versatile development practitioner with a wealth of experience and expertise in family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) communication, program and grant management, capacity strengthening and technical assistance, social and behavior change, information management, and media/communication outreach. Collins has dedicated his career to working with local, national, and international development NGOs to implement successful FP/RH interventions in East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, & Ethiopia) and West Africa (Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Nigeria). His work has focused on youth development, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health (SRH), community engagement, media campaigns, advocacy communications, social norms, and civic engagement. Previously, Collins worked with Planned Parenthood Global, where he provided FP/RH technical assistance and support to Africa Region country programs. He contributed to the FP2030 Initiative’s High Impact Practices (HIP) program in developing the FP HIP briefs. He also worked with The Youth Agenda and I Choose Life-Africa, where he led various youth campaigns and FP/RH initiatives. In addition to his professional endeavors, Collins is passionate about exploring how digital communication and engagement are shaping and moving FP/RH development in Africa and around the world. He loves the outdoors and is an avid camper and hiker. Collins is also a social media enthusiast and can be found on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and sometimes Twitter.

Natalie Apcar

Program Officer II, KM & Communications, Knowledge SUCCESS

Natalie Apcar is a Program Officer II at the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, supporting knowledge management partnership activities, content creation, and communications for Knowledge SUCCESS. Natalie has worked for a variety of nonprofits and built a background in planning, implementation, and monitoring of public health programming, including gender integration. Other interests include youth and community-led development, which she got the chance to engage in as US Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco. Natalie earned a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from American University and a Master of Science in Gender, Development, and Globalization from the London School of Economics and Political Science.