Open knowledge for aid and international development

From Appropedia


Open knowledge for international development includes the use of open licenses, open protocols, technologies for knowledge sharing.

The problem[edit | edit source]

International aid requires research, testing, and documenting technical know-how, with an important part of this process being managing and transferring knowledge to communities. Producing an innovative technical solution requires contextual knowledge and technical expertise, which also needs to be sustainable. This is done by developing the local capabilities to replicate these solutions. Despite these processes being costly, there is little research available regarding their management (Miković et al., 2020) [1].

These knowledge transfer processes are slow and inefficient. For the past 50 years, organizations have produced knowledge to help solve many humanitarian problems on the field, yet the process of ensuring access to this content for aid workers and communities is still outdated: resources are expensive to research, non-editable, and require to be customized and distributed to fit different countries’ contexts. Furthermore, when aid organizations and development organizations act in a proprietary way towards their knowledge, this creates an information silo. This is avoided through ensuring open access to knowledge as well as the use of open licenses.

Why it matters[edit | edit source]

If you make your technology appropriate and you make the how-tos accessible, you can get people to solve their problems themselves.

The challenge is that this reduces people's dependence on aid and development agencies. The dichotomy is that the sector has got to work hard to release it's knowledge in order to achieve their mission, but this also means that a lot of their revenue streams, a lot of their purpose will become redundant. The ultimate goal of a development organization is to bring people to the point that they no longer need this kind help - i.e., to put itself out a job, at least for that community or sector. How committed are you, are we, to the welfare of those we claim to serve?

Active projects in knowledge sharing for development[edit | edit source]

  • Moulin - Focused on Wikipedia content. (French based, Africa focused plus Persian language. Renaud Gaudin spent several months volunteering with Geekcorps Mali. They're working with the US Peace Corps, in discussion with UNESCO? Apparently approached OLPC in the past, so they're interested in cooperating.)
  • WikiAfrica
  • OLPC, through the XO laptop. (MOU with Appropedia being worked on now - Nov 2008)

Likely participants:

  • The Jhai PC and Communication System, a project of the Jhai Foundation, is a computer and communications system designed to meet the needs of villagers in remote and rural areas. (Some thought has been given to providing content on the machines; openness is an expressed value of Jhai.)

There are numerous other projects compiling open access[2] knowledge for international development: see Offline content collaboration.

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Miković, R., Petrović, D., Mihić, M., Obradović, V., & Todorović, M. (2020). The integration of social capital and knowledge management – The key challenge for international development and cooperation projects of nonprofit organizations. International Journal of Project Management. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijproman.2020.07.006
  2. Open access gives much less freedom than fully open licenses. Licenses with a non-commercial clause are in between.