Netherlands Embassy in Nairobi

by Elma den Toom

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Above: (from left) Rahim Otieno, Sarakasi Trust; Jane Mbugua, Sarakasi Trust;  Shitemi Khamadi, PAWA254; Lynnet Ngigi, Kuona Trust. Photo credit: Mwarv Kirubi.
Social change through cultural arts in Kenya
Preserving and promoting cultural arts is widely believed to be a powerful social capital asset in any country and a valuable tool for development cooperation. With this in mind, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ International Cultural Policy Unit (ICE), the Netherlands Embassy in Nairobi, CommonSites and Akvo are working together to increase communication, visibility and transparency of projects funded within the framework of the Culture and Development Programme in a number of priority countries, including Surinam, Palestinian Territory, Kenya, South Africa, Mali, Egypt, Indonesia and Afghanistan. Three of these projects are Sarakasi Trust, Kuona Trust and PAWA254, all of which are based in Nairobi, Kenya. Although all three organisations are unique entities, they do share one common goal: the development of cultural arts amongst underprivileged youth to enable social change within Kenya.
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Akvo Comms Week! 2014

by Mark Charmer

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We’re starting the second day of Akvo Comms Week, the theme of which is “Riding the Tech Rollercoaster”.

This is a week when the PR and communications team comes together. From Amsterdam we’re going to talk to each Akvo hub around the world – East and West Africa, the USA, South Asia (India) and South East Asia (Indonesia). We’re meeting with each product manager to get clear on how we’re helping them communicate about their product. And we’ve got some special guests coming – people with amazing experience – to help inspire everyone to wrap their heads around the challenge of “Riding the Tech Rollercoaster” – working in an industry where nothing stays still and everything can be both exciting and bewildering (often at once!).

The PR and communications team is small – currently 4 people, hiring one more. It’s really good to have an intense week together. Emily is joining us from New York, Jo and Linda from London and I’m in Amsterdam this summer. Day one started with them in London – and from today we’re all together at our Amsterdam office.

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Riding the Tech Rollercoaster

by Mark Charmer

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At Akvo the role of the PR and communications function is to ensure everyone across the organisation feels able to describe Akvo to our audiences. When I say that, I mean each individual has the the knowledge, the methods, the confidence and the tools at hand to tell the story – they are skilled communicators.

Akvo was unusual as a tech startup because the communications function has been integral ever since our conception back in late 2006, and it’s always been seeking to take a progressive approach. We weren’t bolted on later. A decision I made very early on was that I wasn’t going to have a big comms team. Instead, I wanted Akvo to be a big team that was good at comms. The core comms team would comprise of skilled people who get on well with everyone, and would support the development of a strong organisation-wide communications culture and capability. This is helped greatly by modern IT. It’s now very easy for people to watch what’s going on elsewhere in the organisation. I started my career in the early ’90s, standing by a fax machine, faxing press releases to journalists. Now I can often just post things online, tweet it, share it a few other ways and many of the people I need to see something will see it, and share it with others. Or I can work with people around the world to create a new web page, or a poster, or something, like a flash. It’s like magic now. It really is.

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Akvopedia – How are we doing?

by Emily Armanetti

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This past spring, we conducted a survey among Akvopedia users to better understand who is using the site, how they use it and why. Akvopedia is a free-to-use online resource for finding and sharing knowledge about water, sanitation and hygiene projects. This survey provided a sample to complement site metrics gathered by our web analytics system. You can read more about the thinking behind the survey here.

The survey was available on Akvopedia for roughly six weeks and, during that time, we had a total of 544 responses.
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Football for Water Mozambique

by Phylis Gichuru-Webi

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Above: Children participating in Football for Water Mozambique. Below: Andrew looks on as participants practice filling in surveys. Photo credit: Phylis Gichuru-Webi

During the last week of May, I finally had the chance to attend and support an Akvo FLOW training in Mozambique for Football for Water. The programme aims to use sport to improve hygiene and sanitation and drinking water in schools. 

On Monday 25th May, we started out with a one day FLOW dashboard training at the local Football for Water office in Maputo for two ProSport staff members: Manuel Monteiro, the programme coordinator for Football for Water in Mozambique, and Stenor Lucas Tomo. ProSport Mozambique works in cooperation with schools and international organisations to implement development projects, such as youth social and sport programmes. They also implement sports on behalf of the government. They have one representative in each of the 11 provinces in the country and are currently operating water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects in five provinces – Manica, Nampula, Tete, Sofala, and Niassa, with a target of 400 schools.

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Stars for favourites

by Lynn Greenwood

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When you create a file, or receive a share to a file you are likely to use often, you should set it as a favourite. This means that it will always be easy to find as it will be in your personalised list of favourite files.

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Data collection with ICCO Bolivia

by Laura Roverts

La Paz, Bolivia, was the very first place I visited in Latin America before I fell in love with that part of the world. And now, after seven years, I was so lucky to return to La Paz for an Akvo FLOW training workshop with ICCO Sur and some of their partners. ICCO is already using Akvo FLOW in other projects around the world.

I arrived with my colleague Iñigo on Monday 16th June. The city of La Paz is breathtaking. Literally. Altitudes in the city vary from 3100 to 4100 meters above sea level, which means oxygen levels are reduced.

Angel Ramos from ICCO Bolivia interviewing an amaranth farmer in the municipal of Mojocoya, Bolivia

Above: Angel Ramos from ICCO (middle) interviews an amaranth farmer from Municipio de Mojocoya. Photo credit: Laura Roverts.
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Cordaid in Haiti

by Kendra Terry

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Above: The Greener Side of Port-au-Prince. Photo credit: Kendra Terry.

I traveled to Port-au-Prince, Haiti with colleague Charlotte Soedjak to give an Akvo RSR training to a group of Cordaid staff, along with representatives from a few of their partner organizations. For those who were familiar with RSR, the presentation focused mostly on how to provide updates to already existing projects. Everyone who attended seemed excited to use the tool in a new way.

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Akvo FLOW in Mali

by Giel Hendriks

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Above: Dagmar Verbeek takes local news station ORTM through a demonstration and explanation of Akvo FLOW. Photo credit: Giel Hendriks.

Together with Dagmar Verbeek & Valentin Iogo, I recently gave an Akvo FLOW training in Bamako to all the different organizations active for the WASH Alliance in Mali: WaterAid, CECEP, HELVETAS, ALPHALOG, Wetlands International, AED, ARAFD, CAEB, GRAT and ICCO.

The Dutch WASH Alliance is a collective of NGO’s that, by combining its strength and collective capacity, wants to improve the availability of drinking water and sanitation facilities. They work in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Uganda and, of course, Mali.
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Starvation in a granary

by Aulia Rahman

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With plenty of resources, starvation shouldn’t be Indonesia’s middle name. Mismanagement continues to be one of the biggest issues. Globally, up to 40% of fisheries’ catch end up as bycatch and wasted (WWF, 2009). Photo credit: Aulia Rahman
I often sit down with my 2-year-old boy accompanying him watching the Baby TV channel. One of his favorite shows is Hungry Henry, which is about a squirrel-like character, or some kind of, err, I have no idea what Henry is, but one thing is for sure – just like the title, Henry is always hungry and he always yells “Henry is hungry!” But Hungry Henry cannot always get what he wants, the kitchen is always running out of food.

The scene continues to a supermarket where Henry should be able to buy the ingredients that have been missing from the restaurant. The supermarket cannot help because it is sold out. This continues along the food supply chain, until Henry reaches the end of the line and finally gets what he wants, usually from the producer or a farmer.
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Paddy terraces have always made for a beautiful landscape photo, but many threats exist including land use change, landslide from deforestation, generational preferences for working in the industrial sector, awful irrigation management, and government policy to count heavily on free trade. As a result, food security remains a major problem, even for farmers. Photo credit: Aulia Rahman

In contrast
I have just come back from a series of Akvo FLOW training workshops in Pati, Central Java and Sidikalang, North Sumatra. SHEEP (Society for Health, Education, Environment, and Peace) and PETRASA (Yayasan Pengembangan Ekonomi dan Teknologi Rakyat Selaras Alam / Foundation of economic and appropriate technology development based sustainable environment) attended the training, respectively. Both are local NGOs that work in partnership with ICCO, and one of their main goals is to continue the HFIAS (Household Food Insecurity Access Scale) survey using Akvo FLOW.  Unlike in the Hungry Henry TV show, most areas that both of these organisations focus on are having serious issues with food security, although not all of them. Farmers that actually produce raw material for food consumption shouldn’t be food insecure, but in fact they’re the ones who have limited access to food.
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