This social media guide aims at promoting African knowledge (in particular about climate change adaptation).
This is the central part of the guide, showcasing key resources for the most important topics around 'promoting African knowledge (about climate change adaptation) through social media.

Beyond social media: The broader African social learning spectrum

Quick access to key resources

Find a description for each of these resources at the bottom of this page.

There is no silver bullet to development. There is no panacea for sharing African knowledge. And social media are no exception. They bear their own limitations (as indicated in the doubts & pitfalls section above). Promoting African knowledge in practice requires adopting a broad look at social learning. Other approaches can also stimulate strong knowledge sharing and social learning in Africa and by Africans, and effectively complement a social media presence.

This list of various knowledge sharing approaches (generated by a group of people working on climate change at a workshop in 2009) illustrates the richness of knowledge-sharing methods:
  • Diagramming
  • Drama
  • E-bulletins
  • E-conferencing Meetings
  • Face to face Meeting
  • Knowledge Banking (Data Systems)
  • Knowledge Mapping
  • Mentoring / Coaching
  • Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Multi-stakeholder discussions
  • Networks
  • Organizational Learning
  • Partnership Building
  • Peer assists
  • Radio
  • Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, D-group, Blogs, Chats, E-Mails, SMS, Wiki, Youtube, Radio, TV, Blip, Flickr, Web 2.0
  • Storytelling
  • Virtual Libraries
  • Web Platforms

Some of these seem particularly appropriate to support social learning in Africa:

Face-to-face approaches
The most powerful way to share knowledge, in Africa and elsewhere, is directly from one person to another. The development sector thus features many conferences, workshops, meetings, discussions. Making effective use of such ‘conversation spaces’ is necessary. Facilitation methods come in handy. This is all the more important in Africa where so many conferences are taking place and where oral traditions are very strong. As indeed with…

... Storytelling
Storytelling is common to all human cultures but Africa has a particularly strong storytelling tradition. The 'griots' from West Africa and 'arbres à palabres' (palaver trees) are just two examples of this age-old tradition, usually mixed with rituals and value-laden characteristics codified in e.g. Southern African Ubuntu, stone sculptures and rain-making ceremonies. Storytelling is being re-discovered by the West, adding to a very ancient body of experiences. Many toolkits are now helpful to get started with structured storytelling.

Mobile phone applications
Statistics from the International Telecommunications Union from November 2011 estimate that 1.4% Africans possess a telephone land line, as opposed to 53% of the population possessing a mobile phone subscription. Some African countries such as Kenya are leading the way of mobile telephone applications such as mobile payments. Other promising mobile applications include early warning systems, monitoring (of e.g. water points), sharing information on market prices. Text-based and, as bandwidth and market access allow picture- and video-based knowledge sharing is revolutionising social learning everywhere, but in Africa mobile phones are quickly filling the connectivity gap that computer-based communication never managed to address.

Radio initiatives
The radio has traditionally been a strong communication channel in rural areas worldwide. In Africa, radio stations are essential and compensate for the lack of connectivity. The demand for radio programs in various languages and interactive call-in and more recently text messaging options have turned the radio into a medium of choice for social learning.

With regards to climate change adaptation, these alternative ways of sharing knowledge and social learning should not be overlooked as they greatly enhance social media approaches to share knowledge.

Key resources

ICT Update: Adapting to climate change (December 2011)

This special issue of the ICT Update, created by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), explains how a range of ICT tools can help climate change adaptation, combining expert and indigenous knowledge. The issue features examples of an SMS rapid response service, GIS-enabled data collection, radio talk shows and more. A must-read for people working in this field.

Communicating climate change and disaster risk (CommInIt / Soul Beat Africa - September 2011)

This issue 183 of Soul Beat Africa is a key resource and features a variety of articles dealing with African examples of communication on climate change and disaster risk (prevention): strengthening climate change media, experiences with theater group, the role of community radio, a list of African environmental networks etc. A great overview of homegrown initiatives to deal with climate change.

Knowledge sharing tools and methods toolkit (2008 and ongoing)

This toolkit developed by the ICT-KM Program of the CGIAR with FAO, UNICEF, UNDP and KM4Dev is a living knowledge repository about knowledge sharing, “created it to be a resource both for KS workshops and as an ongoing place to learn about, improve upon and generally share our knowledge sharing practices.” It is not the only guide but the most actively updated one. It contains a wealth of methods and tools to share knowledge, face-to-face or otherwise.

ICT Update and the mobile web: Rural telephony (September 2008), Mobile services (October 2009) and Mobile apps (December 2010)

CTA’s excellent ICT update resource dedicated these three issues to mobile telephony (in Africa and elsewhere). The combination provides a rich selection of perspectives, case studies and practical tips. These issues cover phone based voice-over-Internet services, SMS services for pricing information, call centres, mobile banking etc. A great selection of inspiring uses of mobile phones, pointing at some limitations and capacity requirements too…

Radio in Africa - CommInIt Soul Beat issue 191 (February 2012)

This (very rich) special issue of CommInIt’s Soul Beat newsletter features a great review of radio initiatives, across Africa, aiming to promote awareness and discussion about peace and democracy, environment and livelihood issues, and health. Also looks at some challenges and solutions to ensuring the sustainability of community radio stations in Africa and relates to Soul Beat’s theme site on radio. Soul Beat Africa is generally a great resource for African issues.

Storytelling: taking stock (March 2011)

In this blog post, a selection of very useful storytelling resources is made and annotated for easier use, including among others a leader’s guide to storytelling, a practical guide by the Swiss Development Cooperation Agency, a listening and storytelling guideline from PeaceCorps and a list of resource persons for additional information. The resources help anyone get started with storytelling. Quite useful in combination with some background on African storytelling traditions.