This article was originally published on the CFR website on July 2, 2019

The Planning Institute of Jamaica has developed a comprehensive knowledge management strategy that is improving the awareness, knowledge and capacity for action of its internal staff and of programme partners. Sheila McDonald shared the Institute’s experience in a recent Adaptation Fund webinar.

The Planning Institute of Jamaica is a National Implementing Entity (NIE) of the Adaptation Fund and has delivered a $9.97 million project on Enhancing the  Resilience  of  the  Agriculture Sector and Coastal  Areas to Protect Livelihoods  and Improve Food Security. This work has improved livelihoods and food security in seven of Jamaica’s 14 parishes by upgrading water harvesting and management, including better irrigation. The project has helped hundreds of farmers to adopt climate-smart agriculture practices. As well as increasing crop production and incomes, many of these practices are labour-saving, which has made farmers’ lives better, too. The project also has a coastal resilience component that enhances erosion and flood control.

Shelia McDonald, Program Manager at the Planning Institute of Jamaica said that knowledge management efforts have been institutionalized throughout the Planning Institute of Jamaica’s work, to ensure that everyone is capturing and reflecting on lessons learned.

“There has been growing awareness and appreciation of the need to integrate knowledge management,” she said.

The Institute’s knowledge management systems serve two purposes: “The first is to compile data and generate lessons learned during the implementation phase of the programme cycle, and the second, to share the information with relevant stakeholders, locally and globally,” she said.

Best practices embraced by the Institute include:

–          Creating knowledge products with specific audience groups in mind – not just doing knowledge management for its own sake. The Institute has, for example, created a climate risk atlas based on community hazard mapping; a land husbandry manual; brochures; fact sheets; project videos and online story maps. All of these were created for the use by specific groups, ranging from farmers to government utility managers.

–          Framing issues suitably for specific audience groups, for example, a youth brochure was  produced for teenagers that is quite differently presented from climate adaptation materials for corporations.

–          Using different media and activities to disseminate information, recognizing that some people prefer or have access to different forms of media over others, such as film, text and graphics; digital content and hard copies. The project has been active in schools: designing Youth in Agriculture activities such as the annual 4-H Achievement Day and National School Garden Competition.

To share knowledge within the Institute itself, staff have launched a range of initiatives including the ‘Learning Hour’ – internal sessions to provide staff with information on a variety of topics – and an intranet. For interagency engagements, the Institute relies heavily on meetings.

To capture and share knowledge with project beneficiaries and the general public, the Institute uses a wide range of activities and channels, from mass media to its website and library, webinars and partner events.  Public events like World Water Day provide a special ‘hook’ for public engagement and a chance to throw the spotlight on climate adaptation issues.