When someone mentions the topic of ‘knowledge’, what comes to mind? Is it highly specialised information? Does it conjure thoughts of research produced by professors in far off lands? Is it something beyond your grasp yet something you would like, want or need to better understand in your world? Considering we are in what some would describe as ‘an information age’, isn’t it vital that we enable access to this world for those we work with and for?

The reality, sadly, is the concept of what knowledge is remains an area that few have the ability to engage. This inaccessibility is a problem and one that we hope to remedy by reaching out to local frontline responders, humanitarian workers and even crisis-affected communities to ask, “what is your knowledge?”

For the Agta and Migliano peoples (as described in this story), knowledge is stories meticulously shared to ensure cooperation and gender equality in their society (with a shifting or depleting resource base). This taps into tradition, lived experience and acquired understanding passed down through generations to aid in surviving crises. The existence of these stories, shared orally, attests to their success in achieving this objective. Orally shared ‘survival knowledge’ survives with those who share it – it is locally-sourced knowledge that matters most for those in crisis.

Local knowledge can be generated by local communities residing in rural, urban or peri-urban surroundings as these are validated bits of information that are shared (crowdsourced?) providing invaluable context, background or guidance on survival during normal or extraordinary circumstances.

The Humanitarian Leadership Academy strives to nurture and enable access to local knowledge across a variety of platforms. We seek to provide the mechanisms for local responders to generate and share their knowledge of how to prepare and respond to crises in their environs involving locally sourced innovative solutions and strategies, examples and scenarios. We see this type of local knowledge sharing and generation as working in a complementary manner with more traditional forms of knowledge production as vital sources of data for more structured research. We envision local knowledge being shared across national boundaries as we seek to facilitate this South-South exchange which is a major driver to effective localised humanitarian practice.

Our knowledge platform will allow for users to write their own forms of knowledge, have them peer-reviewed and then published to share with others in their community or globally. We will also source practical guidance on issues and concerns of local humanitarian actors and will enable access to a wide range of sources of knowledge from across the globe to help inform and strengthen the learning experience for these individuals.

If you’re interested in learning more, please check out our Knowledge Approach summary here and/or email me to get involved.

Paul Gunaratnam
Head of Strategy, Planning & Impact
crisisdisasterelearningHumanitarianKnowledgeknowledge sharingLearninglocal knowledgeplatform
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