Knowledge sharing networks are increasingly recognised as means of mobilising the knowledge and capacities needed to respond to complex and changing realities, such as the challenges posed by climate change. AfricaAdapt is one such network that describes its aim as ‘facilitating the flow of climate change adaptation knowledge for sustainable livelihoods between researchers, policy makers, civil society organisations and communities who are vulnerable to climate variability and change across the [African] continent’. This paper takes a ‘behind the scenes’ look at the AfricaAdapt Network and the partnerships on which it is based and is thus intended to be useful for others seeking to collaboratively develop knowledge sharing networks.
We focus on the dynamics of design and implementation of a knowledge sharing network in a distributed partnership, from the perspective of the former lead partner. Rather than looking at the delivery and outcomes of network activities, we explore the way in which the partners sought to develop sustainable relationships and ways of working to underpin the network, areas that are frequently under-examined, particularly among practitioners. Areas covered include: governance and management, staffing and planning, financial management, partnership dynamics, learning, capacity development, monitoring and evaluation.
Although all knowledge sharing networks are different we have tried to identify insights and principles from this specific example that can be adapted and applied in other contexts. We hope that these insights will provide a useful contribution to the broader body of theory and experience around networks and knowledge sharing.