Africa Water Week: a growing interest in integrated approaches to water

by Tabitha Gerrets

DSC01164Monday 18th July 2016, the 6th Africa Water Week (AWW) officially kicked off in Dar es Salam, Tanzania, and attracted about 800-1000 visitors on its first day. In total over 2000 people registered, nearly equalling it in size to the Stockholm World Water Week (SWWW), which is attracting between 2500-3000 people on average. But it’s not just the quantity that counts, it’s also the quality.
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Looking back on the Amsterdam Track Day 2016

by Alvaro de Salvo

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On 23 June we hosted an Akvo Track Day in Amsterdam. It’s been a while since we last organised one, and I loved seeing all the people who attended. (If you’ve never been to one of our Track Days before, my colleague Linda wrote
 a blog explaining a bit more about them.) This years edition was an interesting one. We also decided to give it a new fresh identity. Read More »

Plan International Finland – transforming communications, monitoring and reporting

by Emily Armanetti

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Above (from left to right): Juho Molsa, Julia Ojanen, Mika Välitalo and Aaro Keipi of Plan International Finland. Helsinki, Finland. 2 June 2016. Photo by Loic Sans.


Plan International is a global children’s charity that works to advance children’s rights and achieve equality for girls. In Finland, the organisation works across a number of themes – from child protection to youth economic empowerment to gender equality – to drive development projects and child sponsorship at a national level, as well as in a number of developing countries.

Plan Finland receives funding from individual donors, corporate partners, The Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the EU and the UN. In a complex network of funding, it is critical to understand where money flows. One of Plan Finland’s key strategic directions in 2015 was enhanced transparency. The organisation was looking to be more open by reporting according to the standards set by the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), which is an open standard for the publication of aid information that helps to make development aid more transparent.
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Making sense of survey data using interactive maps

by Charles Kimani

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Above: screen grab of a sample interactive map.

Think of geographic data and chances are maps will spring to mind. Cartography is the art and science of making maps. It has existed since as early as 2300 B.C, over which time countless maps have been made, each one being used to overlay some kind of geographic data.

You can source geographic data from numerous sources, including collecting it using a tool such as Akvo Flow. After collection, often you’re presented with the problem of how to present the data in a format that’s easy to understand and interact with. Tools and platforms exist that can help with this problem, but it can be hard to find a tool that will offer a detailed enough level of interaction for the end user.

This is the problem we faced, and hence the idea of building interactive maps for our partners who are conducting surveys with Akvo Flow was born.

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After Access – the changing role of ICT in development

by Henry Jewell

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Photo by Ethel Méndez Castillo
The International Conference on Information & Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD2016) is an annual research conference that explores the nexus between ICT and global development. The 8th iteration of the conference was held on the beautiful campus of the University of Michigan (this might be a biased description, as I live here) in Ann Arbor, from 3-6 June.

My colleague Ethel and I attended the event to present, participate, engage, listen and learn. We co-convened a session titled ‘Searching for the missing link for data use’. The four days provided a diverse and fascinating set of perspectives on all aspects of ICT4D, which showed both the potential of ICT for global development, and some of the challenges.

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Lets make more videos in 2016

by Alvaro de Salvo

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If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a video worth? My guess is: a lot. 

Video has been around for a long time at Akvo. Since the inception of Akvo RSR, videos have been an important way to see and learn about the work being done by our partners, all around the globe. Through video, stories started to come in vividly, from the field, as they happened. 
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Doing global comms in a tiny multi-national

by Jo Pratt

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One of the things that’s unusual for an organisation the size of Akvo (70-ish people) is that we have offices around the world. Our local teams work closely with our partners to train and support people to use our tools and improve how they capture, understand and share data and information, and monitor and evaluate their work. This means we have hub and satellite offices in different parts of Africa, South Asia, Asia Pacific and North America. 

Each region has it’s own communications objectives, challenges and languages. Akvo’s approach to communications has always been open, participatory and distributed. This means we can’t – and don’t want to – control regional and local communications activities centrally. But we recognise that regional teams are very busy doing their stuff and need support with their communications activities. At the same time, we’re not large enough to warrant a communications person in each location. It’s a conundrum. What to do?

Introducing the Combi Programme
For some time now, we’ve been wanting to try out a new approach to local communications that is lean, intelligent and flexible. Like a few things at Akvo, it was originally the brainchild of our former communications director, Mark Charmer. It’s called the Combi Programme.
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Le champ d’action unique du pôle Akvo Afrique de l’Ouest

by Lars Heemskerk

Le mois de mai a été marqué par l’arrivée de trois (03) nouveaux membres dans l’équipe de Akvo Afrique de l’Ouest. Ce sont trois nouvelles expertises qui viennent renforcer l’équipe. Ce mois de mai a aussi été l’occasion de tenir la première semaine de la rencontre régionale du pole depuis sa creation en 2013. Nous avons eu le temps de mieux nous connaître, de découvrir et dessiner notre rêve, mais surtout de tisser des liens solides et conviviales entre nous. L’image que j’avais de l’équipe a été confirmée. Nous avons une grande équipe complémentaire composée de personnes expérimentées, motivées avec un brassage culturel remarquable. Cependant, une autre chose que j’ai découvert au cours de cette semaine est que, Akvo Afrique de l’Ouest à une manière de fonctionner différente des autres hubs dans le monde. Dans ce blog, je voudrais mettre en évidence cinq (05) éléments qui rendent notre environnement de travail unique en son genre.

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Ci-dessus: En regardant l’horizon après une randonnée matinale pendant la semaine de rencontre à Bamako. Photo par Wendemi Pascaline Ilboudo.

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The unique landscape of the Akvo West Africa hub

by Lars Heemskerk

With the arrival of three new enforcements for the Akvo West Africa hub last month, it was also time to organise our first regional team week since the establishment of the hub in 2013. We had a great time getting to know each other (better), discover and design our future dream, but most of all we had a lot of fun. What I knew already was confirmed again – we have a great complementary team with a lot of experienced and motivated people from very diverse cultural backgrounds. But another thing I discovered during this week is that Akvo West Africa operates quite differently compared to other Akvo hubs around the world. In this blog, I would like to highlight five things that make the landscape in which we operate unique.

Horizon of Bamako

Above: Looking at the horizon after a morning hike during the West Africa team week in Bamako. Photo by Wendemi Pascaline Ilboudo.

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Akvo Track Day, 23 June 2016

by Linda Leunissen

On 23 June we’re hosting the latest Akvo Track Day. It’s been a while since we hosted an event like this in Amsterdam, and we’d love to see you there. If you’ve never been to one of our Track Days before, this blog will explain the what and why. Or, you could just register straight away and see for yourself. 

The name Track Day has nothing to do with track and trace data, it refers to a day on an actual race track. On a track day you can take your car — the one you use for your daily commute and grocery shopping — to a motor racing circuit and drive around the race track without speed restrictions. It’s very much like racing, though you are not allowed to actually race. There are no winners or losers. It’s not about who is best. It’s about trying out the tools you have at your disposal (your car) and see what you can do with it, how fast it can go and have some fun along the way.

Akvo’s Track Day is very similar to that. Akvo will get you up to date with the latest developments around our tools, and you can test them out and have a go yourself. There are also keynote speakers who will tell you about the work they’re doing, so you can pick up their best tips and tricks and try them out yourself. There is a chance to mingle with peers and generally have a good time.

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