Solution Exchange :: United Nations

  • Project Category : Best Initiative for Localized Application/Content

    Details of Applicant :

    Name : Ramesh Kumar Jalan
    Address : 55, Lodhi Estate, , India
    City : New Delhi
    State: Delhi
    Country : India

    Details of Project/Implementing Agency :

    Name of Organisation : United Nations
    Address : 55, Lodhi Estate, , India
    City : New Delhi
    State: Delhi
    Country : India

    Name of the head of Organisation : Patrice Coeur-Bizot

    Web :

    Brief description of the programme/project/Initiative :

    35000 academics, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), grassroots practitioners, government representatives and subject experts are members of Solution Exchange (SE), an ICT enabled knowledge platform developed and managed by the UN system in India since 2005.

    Ten Communities of Practice (COP), under the framework of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are hosted and facilitated by six UN entities. This query-response based ICT platform offers UN-sponsored space where development professionals with similar interests connect to apply their knowledge, experience, energy and enthusiasm towards the common objective of problem solving through the mechanism of moderated email based discussions.

    The results of this model of knowledge sharing and capacity development has been evaluated by external experts like Overseas Development Institute, UK and according to it “Solution Exchange occupies a unique niche in India‘s development scene bringing together large numbers of development practitioners, researchers, policy makers and private sector organizations. There are several other portals but none matches the coverage and level of discussion. Through its CoPs, SE has allowed its members to exchange experiences and knowledge and solve development problems collectively. It has paved the way for new collaborative ventures, created spaces for discussions that have fed into policy formulation while also providing feedback on implementation including voices from the field”.

    This model has already been replicated in Philippines, Bhutan and Bangladesh in South and South East Asia, the Pacific Islands, and in countries beyond the Asia and the Pacific region.

    There are currently ten Communities of Practice, including:

    1.         Climate Change Community

    2.         Decentralization Community

    3.         Disaster Management Community

    4.         Gender Community

    5.         Microfinance Community

    6.         Maternal & Child Health (MCH) Community

    7.         Water Community

    8.         Work and Employment Community

    9.         Education Community

    10.        Food & Nutrition Security (FNS) Community

    Why was the project started :

    Complex problems require complex solutions which are discussed and deliberated upon by experts and practitioners alike. Solution exchange provides a rare opportunity for finding solutions through a peer network of experts.

    Solution Exchange was initiated to support the achievement of development objectives like India’s Five Year Plans and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through capturing, documenting and supporting utilization of tacit knowledge.

    Objective : The objective of Solution Exchange is to use the medium of technology to share knowledge and promote collaboration between individuals and institutions in an effort to jointly address development challenges, while leveraging India’s knowledge pool, in a collaborative and innovative manner.

    Target group : The target group includes development practitioners in India from the government, NGOs, private sector, academia and concerned citizens.

    Please Specify reach within India : 

    The geographical reach within India includes all states albeit more modest representation from states with lesser internet access. 

    Please Specify reach outside India :

    Communities have members from different parts of the world primarily from developing countries in Asia and the Pacific.  This initiative aims at facilitating South-South exchange of knowledge and solutions as part of a new development paradigm.

    Date from which the project became operational : The project commenced in April, 2005.

    Is the Project still operational : The project is still operational and 10 online Communities of Practice have generated more than 2,000 publications on various development themes.

    10 points that make the programme/project innovative :

    The ten innovations of the initiative include:

    1. Developing Communities of Practice around thematic areas to provide a neutral platform for interactions between practitioners. It includes a database of members; web platform to provide information about the communities and also for publishing knowledge products.
    2. In addition to the Consolidated Reply the Communities publish other knowledge products including community updates, Ready Reckoner’s, Policy Briefs, Toolkits, Compendium etc.
    3. Organize discussions, queries focusing on government programs, priorities to solicit inputs for improvements and policy making.
    4. The platform permits cross-posting of discussions on two communities simultaneously in case the issue is relevant to more than one thematic area.
    5. The initiative includes organizing a series of face to face events to motivate members to network among themselves and work more closely with each other.
    6. A selected group of members could join together to work on a specific issue of common interest to develop a knowledge product through the “Action Groups” that requires an in depth analysis and consultation.
    7. The Communities work closely with different UN Agencies and International Organizations relevant to its area of work, which enhances the quality of the knowledge products.
    8. A Resource Group comprising of eminent professionals in the sector provides regular guidance and support to activities of SE.
    9.  Surveys, feed backs are conducted to solicit inputs from members on knowledge Products and services based on which new initiatives are launched.
    10. Translation of Knowledge products in other languages, utilization of radio, print and electronic media to enable wider dissemination of information.

    List 5 achievements of the programme /project/ initiative : 

    1.    Included people’s voices in the development of India’s National Development Plan as it provided inputs to the Planning Commission, Government of India for preparation of the Approach Paper for the 12th Five-Year Plan.
    2.    Peer reviewed 2000 Knowledge Products since 2005.
    3.    The Communities have provided suggestions for design and better implementation of national, state level government programs and supported government activities including the following:

    •    Prepared strategic plan for water and sanitation 2020.
    •   Developed “Code of Conduct on Sexual Harassment” for National Commission for Women.
    •    Provided inputs for State Disaster Management Policies of Karnataka, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh.
    •    Provided inputs to Ministry of Science and Technology for the National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change (NMSKCC) and National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem and was involved in South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) consultation for monitoring of Regional Climate Agenda.
    •   Organized roundtable on National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) Implementation Framework for inputs to Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD).
    •    Revised the National Dietary Guidelines of India.
    •  Provided inputs on Draft Land Acquisition, Resettlement & Rehabilitation Bill.
    • Provided inputs for preparation of the Communication Guidelines for Creating Demand for Immunization and Reducing Dropouts.
    •  Inputs for Right to Education Forum report submitted to Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) for reformative action.
    •   Inputs for “Mahila kisan Sashakti Karan Pariyojna” of Ministry of Rural Development.

    4.    Facilitated online, face to face discussion and networking between 35000 professionals from across the world, with focus on India.
    5.    Provided inputs to the government and other agencies regarding grassroots level challenges, documented experiences, examples and advice to enable evidence-based policy development.


    List 5 key challenges faced while implementing the programme /project/initiative and how they were overcome?

    Challenges and measures to overcome these:

    1.    English being used as the main language for communication limits the richness of discussions and prevents those less conversant in the language from contributing actively to the discussions.
    2.    The management of Communities and maintenance/development of the web platform requires substantial funding, that is often a challenge.
    3.    The Communities are not able to reach people without access to internet.
    4.    Enhancing membership to ensure equitable geographical coverage.
    5.    Availability of adequate human resources and expertise.
    Measures to overcome:
    •    A regional language based “Karnataka Community” was launched and Communities of Practice publish versions of discussions in Hindi.
    •    The initiative has been funded by different agencies of the United Nations and international donors. However, additional measures including government financing, private sector funding etc. are being explored.
    •    Organize face to face events; Resource Teams attend several conferences, workshops, forums, organize meetings etc. to enroll new members.
    •    Electronic and print media are utilized from time to time to engage people without access to internet.
    •    Regular training programs and workshops are organized to improve the skill sets of the Resource Teams.

    List 5 points on how the programme can serve as a model that can be replicated or adapted by others :

    1. SE serves as a model for participatory evidence-based policy development.  It can also provide a model for replication in sectors not covered till now. We have requests for initiating new communities for example on the Sustenance of the Himalayan Eco-System.
    2. The knowledge products developed could be utilized as a background material for replication of initiatives discussed.
    3. Since 2005 it has developed sufficient technical expertise amongst professionals to support its growth and sustenance.
    4. It has already been replicated in Bhutan, Bangladesh, Pacific Islands etc. and best practices need to be adopted.
    5. The Action Group, Annual Forum and other face to face events organized by the communities could be utilized by other organizations for interaction with grass-root practitioners.

    List 5 points to elaborate on the scalability of the programme/project/initiative :

    1. It is already being implemented at the national level. However it could be scaled up in terms of membership by organizing more face to face events and utilizing other media for advocacy.
    2. Several new communities could be initiated and the ten ongoing communities could be further strengthened to scale up the initiative.
    3. It is possible to train professionals on developing and managing such platforms to enable scaling up of the initiative.
    4. The initiative could partner with other knowledge sharing platforms, with research and academic institutions for achieving a greater outreach.
    5. The number of Action Groups and face to face events could be increased significantly enabling effective knowledge sharing and capacity building on specific need based interventions.

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