PIND Foundation, Nigeria – improves development co-operation

by Jo Pratt

Team NDlink 1 850
PIND is the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta. It aims to achieve peace and prosperity among local communities by bringing together people concerned with sustainable development in the region, sharing information and insights, and encouraging innovative partnerships to support equitable economic growth. PIND’s activities are focussed in four programme areas: economic development; capacity building; peace building; and analysis & advocacy. 

Below: members of the NDLink team outside PIND’s office in Port Harcourt. From left to right: Ese Emerhi (project manager), Daro Ibitoye, Ogo Emenike and Chima Jeff Magwei.
Top: the team on the campus of the University of Port Harcourt. Photos by Aisha Augie Kuta, Port Harcourt 2 September 2015
NDlink office
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Finding a new way to start the Akvo week

by Mark Charmer


For the past five years or so, Akvo has had a Monday morning Skype call at 10am Central European Time. This has become the regular weekly gathering of colleagues, both in Amsterdam (where it is hosted from our big meeting room), and around the world (with people joining in via Skype with updates from their region). 

If my grandfather was still alive, he would marvel at our Monday morning Skype meeting. He worked as a communications officer in the British army in India in World War 2, which involved riding a Norton motorcycle on his own, carrying letters, plans, packages. Whereas we can sit in rooms around the world and talk together – and often see each other on video, for almost negligible communications cost (thanks to Skype, Broadband Internet and the really good computers we now have). We can gather upwards of 20 people together from around the world, all sharing what they do together in a convivial atmosphere. I think it’s important not to deride what is already there. It’s a little bit magic. It’s something we shouldn’t take for granted. And each week, I type the minutes myself, either from London or Amsterdam and mail them to everyone that morning, and archive them on our intranet. People can instantly read them wherever they are, be it boarding a plane, sitting on a bus or train, lying in bed or perhaps sitting in the bath, whether they’re in Seattle, Edinburgh, Ethiopia or Canberra. Isn’t the internet amazing?

Despite the marvellousness of all this, we need to change the format. Because the Akvo Monday meeting is not quite a global meeting, not quite an Amsterdam meeting, and not quite a forum to discuss things. And it’s too big now to be a place where everyone sets out their week. It just doesn’t work for 70 staff stretching from Australia around to California, via plenty of places on the way.
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Amitangshu Acharya: the final take

by Amitangshu Acharya

From the window at my desk I have a patchwork view of the school next to our Delhi office. Surrounded by trees, view of the campus is fractured by a dense network of leafy branches. And through that I witness animated innocence at work on merry go-rounds, seesaws and jungle gyms. In their white shirts and purple shorts, these children are an inspiration for anyone wanting to make a change in the imperfect world we live in. Having merely inherited this planet, what we leave behind is the question we will all end up asking ourselves one day. 


Photo: The view from my window at my desk. Delhi, India.
It is this very question that lies in the heart of all work that stems from our hub in the region. What are we leaving behind with our tools and our partnerships and our programmes? What change did we bring? What difference did we make? 

There are no easy answers. The journey from improved data collection, to open data to data based decision making that improves governance is a complex labyrinth. I needed an incredibly talented team by my side to navigate it. And I was lucky. I just didn’t get a great team; I had a team of greats.
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Track and trace in agriculture – an introduction

by Eline Ditmar Jansse

I’ve recently joined the Akvo team in Amsterdam, working on research related to agricultural supply chains, and support people here working on projects that touch on that area. To help everyone understand a bit more background on the field, I thought I’d introduce the topic of track and trace in agriculture. As I’m an academic, you’ll find a few more references than you get in a typical Akvo blog.

It may come as a surprise to many how many of the world’s farms are small holdings. More than 500 million small-holder farmers run 80 percent of farmland in Africa and Asia.[1] Each day consumers rely on the availability of (tropical) commodities like coffee, tea, cocoa, fruits, grains, hidden products in cosmetics like palm-oil, shea (butter) or coconut (oil) cultivated by small-holder farmers and plantation workers. Coffee is the second most traded product in the world besides crude-oil and it’s also the second most popular drink besides water.[2] The way the world organises these global supply chains has an enormous impact on the quality of lives of millions of people. In his book “Max Havelaar”, the Dutch author Multatuli (pseudonym of Eduard Douwes Dekkers) was one of the first to draw attention to social issues surrounding coffee and sugar production in Indonesia in 1860.[3]tracktrace8ad_850

Photo by Aulia Rahman.

Fairer trade
Since then, civil society has continued to push for improving the livelihoods of small-scale farmers’ and plantation workers livelihoods, as well as environmental protection and food safety. The first Max Havelaar label was created in the Netherlands in 1988. It was a consumer-led initiative, which was later changed into the Fair Trade label, to indicate proper working conditions and fair payment.[4] Many certification and monitoring standards have been developed since, each with a different angle on the various interpretations of sustainability in different regions, different commodities and ways to communicate it to businesses or consumers. Read More »

Developing Akvo DASH

by Henry Jewell

Being open is something that is central to our philosophy as an organisation. Now that the design and development of Akvo DASH has begun, it is about time for an update on how it is going so far.  Akvo DASH will be an open-source, easy to use data mashup, analysis and publishing platform to enable improved programmatic and policy decisions across the international development sector. It will initially be piloted, and marketed to, those involved in improving global water and sanitation services and infrastructure. The core development team are Stellan Lagerström and Gabriel von Heijne, with product management led by Mark Tiele Westra, infrastructure by Iván Perdomo, project management by Lynn Greenwood, with a steer from Thomas Bjelkeman-Pettersson and support from the Communications and Partnerships teams. This blog will be the first in a series, giving a running commentary on how things are progressing and how you can potentially be a part of the process – we want this to be open and inclusive.
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Mali – a challenge of distance and data

by Lars Heemskerk

Recently I travelled 1600 km by road through Mali to give training on Akvo FLOW and Akvo RSR in Mopti and Koulikoro. This was for an SNV and UNICEF project in which two local non-government organisations (NGOs), CEEA et CR-ONG, together with the DNH (Direction Nationale de l’Hydrauliqe du Mali), are working on mapping water points and reporting their activities in the regions of Mopti, Koulikoro and Sikasso.

Above: We travelled by road through Mali to give Akvo FLOW and RSR training to the regional office of UNICEF in Mopti. 27 July 2015. Photo by Lars Heemskerk. Below: Water points mapped using Akvo FLOW in the regions of Mopti, Koulikoro and Sikasso.
Mali FLOW map.010915
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A brand new project editor for Akvo RSR

by Laura Roverts

I remember when I just started working for Akvo, I was in the Amsterdam office with Peter, Kathelyne, Luuk and Mark Westra. Once or twice a week someone asked, “Have you seen we’ve got a new update on our homepage?” Meaning that one of our partner organisations posted an update to one of the few projects then hosted on Akvo RSR. Now, almost four years later, the amount of RSR projects and updates has increased enormously to well over 10,000, with projects valued at over €1.4 billion in total featuring on the platform, compared to €12 million at the end of 2011.

New lighter way to upload and edit projects

However, until now, in order to get a project online, a partner needed to complete a PDF form and send it back to Akvo. We then manually copied and pasted all the information to the backend of the RSR platform. Four years ago, this was actually doable, because our network was a lot smaller than it is now. But over time the process has become really time consuming and actually is out-of-date. (The RSR API already allows organisations to connect RSR to their own information systems and upload large numbers of projects to RSR that way, but this only helps when the information is already stored digitally somewhere.) 

Therefore we have been working on a new project editor, launching today, which can be found when you log into MyRSR. Depending on your user role, the project editor allows you to add, edit and/or publish project information directly, without the need to fill in a PDF form and send it to Akvo. 
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Akvo #Stockholm9 – video and highlights

by Mark Charmer


It was Akvo’s 9th Stockholm World Water Week this week, and the team we branded #Stockholm9 wrapped up yesterday.

Photo above: The Akvo #Stockholm9 team. Thomas Bjelkeman, Mark Charmer, Bert Diphoorn, Emeline Bereziat, Joy Ghosh, Jeroen van der Sommen and Alvaro de Salvo. Friday 28 August 2015. (Gabriel von Heijne)

Here’s our video of the week, shot by Alvaro de Salvo. Below I’ve also listed out some of the highlights.

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Akvo sessions at World Water Week 2015

by Mark Charmer

Akvo is attending Stockholm World Water Week this month, for the ninth time. Our #Stockholm9 team is here to bridge the gap between the information technology world and the “water sector”. For details of who is who in the team, check out this post.

Akvo’s presence at World Water Week 2015 involves a stand (aka Base Camp), participation in a number of sessions, an evening reception at the Netherlands Embassy and occasional guerrilla activity to be determined at the time. This section will be updated as the event develops.
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Akvo #Stockholm9 team – World Water Week 2015

by Mark Charmer

Akvo is back in Stockholm in late August, for World Water Week. We want to introduce you to team nine – we were first conceived here in 2006, and it’s our ninth time as Akvo at the event. It’s our job to be a great bridge between the information technology and the “water sector”.

We’re branding our work under the banner of #Stockholm9 this year – Akvo’s 9th team – at Stockholm World Water Week.

The dates

From Sunday 23rd (afternoon) to Friday 28th August (morning)

What is Stockholm World Water Week?

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