Unlocking Potential: Talking about Knowledge Management with Mary Gatitu, Director of Rescue Dada Centre

Published: December 9, 2020

News Report on Online Session Series “Knowledge Management for Beginners”

HORIZONT3000’s partner organisations in East Africa have a wealth of knowledge and experiences that could contribute to the achievements of their strategic goals. However, with many organisations this knowledge resides within the heads of staff and is not readily available for other staff or outsiders. Systematically managing knowledge is not a widespread and recognised organisational practice – yet.

Online Webinar Series on Knowledge Management

From October to November 2020, KNOW-HOW3000 offered a first of its kind online session series on “Knowledge Management for Beginners.” The sessions were facilitated by the KNOW-HOW3000 programme manager in Vienna Petra Herout and myself, Flying TA for knowledge management in East Africa Annika Witte. The series was designed to introduce participants to the basics of knowledge management, documentation and experience capitalisation. In four sessions, participants learnt about definitions and methods and were given tools to assess their own knowledge management capacity and to tap into the wealth of knowledge they have and unlock this potential.

Participant: Mary Gatitu, Rescue Dada Centre, Kenya

One of the participants of the series was Mary Gatitu, the Director of Rescue Dada Centre (RDC) in Kenya. RDC supports street connected girls to successfully embark on a life away from the streets. RDC rescues, rehabilitates and reintegrates these girls and empowers them, their caregivers and the community to improve livelihood security. Mary has been working with RDC for fifteen years. We talked to Mary about her opinion on knowledge management and what she was able to take away from the online series.

Interview with Mary Gatitu

Why did you decide to sign up for the knowledge management online training?

With the invitation to the online session series, we realised that we have a gap when it comes to documenting our work. How is empowerment done? How is rehabilitation done? Imagine, in a project that was established in 1992 there is a lot of knowledge that we could have documented. A documentation to show all the experiences we went through. That’s the reason why we felt that there was a big gap, consequently we agreed as a team to join the webinar and acquire this skill of knowledge management. We sat down as a team and decided who should participate in this webinar, because we need to invest and manage our time. If we only send one person, however, it is difficult to share the acquired knowledge the rest of the staff. So we decided that the M&E officer, the Technical Advisor from HORIZONT3000 and I, the Empowerment Programme Manager, should participate.  

How was your organisation handling knowledge up to the online training?

In 2017, we requested a Technical Advisor from HORIZONT3000, so Martina Rithaa came to help us document our files and our knowledge. She helped us organise ourselves, but there was no emphasis on knowledge management. But when we signed up for this training, we realised that Martina has been helping us to acquire and document all this knowledge in various places. She has been talking about getting a server, but I was not perceiving a server as something that can improve our organisation. But after this training, we have realised that we need to be able to store the knowledge that we have. 

Furthermore, we realised that when new workers joined the team, we did not have a way to establish whether they had knowledge that could benefit other team members as well. At the same time, if that person was leaving RDC, we did not document where that person was going or whether there was something special or an experience that s/he could leave behind so that we could continue with what we were doing.

What does knowledge management mean to you or to RDC?

Knowledge management means to RDC that you evaluate yourself as an organisation and this is where everybody gets involved. You evaluate yourself and establish the gaps that you are having. Knowledge management can help you reintegrate the knowledge that the staff acquire in trainings into your organisation. Knowledge management means managing all the skills, all the experiences that you as an organisation have. That way you are even able to then share it with people from outside. 

What are your key lessons learnt from the webinar that you would like to share with our readers?

The first lesson that we came to realise is that this is not a one-man or one-woman show. We require everybody to establish which knowledge, which skills we have as a team. I as Director have been with Resuce Dada Centre for many years and I have a lot of knowledge but it is not written down. If I leave, the knowledge goes with me. So how can RDC tap into this knowledge?

Secondly, we also realised that we have an issue of internal communication. We sent a lot of workers to trainings but is the knowledge brought back to us? If someone was trained, can s/he be able to train others? 

What would you like to start trying out at Rescue Dada Centre? 

First, we have created a form for knowledge mapping that has already been filled out by all of the 24 members of our staff. So we managed to establish which knowledge our staff have, the knowledge we have and how we can share it. We got some great surprises from this exercise. For instance we discovered that one of our teachers is doing a degree in psychology, meaning s/he will have to be promoted to counsellor soon.

Second, we also need to align our internal communication. Are we having good communication with the staff so that they are able to freely state what kind of knowledge they have? And can we rear a good environment where the staff are able to share that knowledge? 

Finally, we have a meeting today after this interview and we will talk about our strategic plan. We want to see whether knowledge management can be part of our strategic plan. Because once integrated in the strategic plan, we are able to evaluate and assess what we have done and how it went. 

We want to do all this because yes, we got the knowledge in the training, but we need to be in a position of action. We want to start implementing.

Do you have any final comment that you would like to share with our readers?

I would really like to appreciate HORIZONT3000. They understand the weaknesses the partners have and the biggest weakness that we have is knowledge management. We attend so many workshops and so many trainings, but if we don’t manage the knowledge that we have, it won’t benefit us. Thank you very much.

Thank you very much for the interview. We are looking forward to hearing from you how the implementation is going.

Please find all of the presentations provided at the webinar series by visiting our KNOW-HOW3000 Events Media Library. Open the East Africa folder and then the one called: 2020 Webinar Series on Knowledge Management.

Annika Witte

Annika Witte

Annika Witte works as a Flying TA in Knowledge Management in Uganda. Annika is contributing to the KNOW-HOW3000 programme, working together on a needs basis with the ROEA and different Partner Organisations from the HORIZONT3000 East Africa TA and finance programmes, with a focus on Uganda.

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