Thursday, 22 May 2008

Evaluation of FAO's information, knowledge sharing and communication activities

A 400 plus pages report (September 2007, 417 p.) of the 'Independent External Evaluation of FAO' was recently made available on the FAO website.

Looking at all aspects of the organization's work, the evaluation team discusses its information, knowledge sharing and communication activities in several places.

The role of FAO as a 'knowledge organization' pervades the report, and provides useful notions for other organizations in this area.

  • In paragraph 601, for example, the authors say that FAO’s “principal task is to work to ensure that the world’s knowledge of food and agriculture is available to those who need it when they need it and in a form which they can access and use.”
  • Chapter 3 on the ‘Relevance and Effectiveness of the Technical Work of FAO for the 21st Century’ has a substantial section on knowledge management and ensuring the availability of knowledge to users.
  • In recommendation 3.6, the evaluation team concludes that the “maintenance and strengthening of information systems is thus fundamental to the performance of the Organization’s role and requires adequate resourcing.” [Comment of IAALD: This is perhaps a lesson for all organizations working in agriculture.]
IAALD 12/05 : FAO as a knowledge organization
The report of the Independent External Evaluation (IEE) of FAO was considered by the FAO Conference in November 2007. An immediate plan of action will be considered by a Special Session of the Conference in the latter part of 2008.