Facing typefaces

by Linda Leunissen

At Akvo we use a lot of different typefaces. We have our own standard typeface, Vista Sans, which has been the backbone of our printed materials since the beginning of Akvo. We would like to use it everywhere, but unfortunately it doesn’t come as a standard type on computers, which means we use different typefaces for our websites (this blog for instance is written in Helvetica Neue). Apart from that, we also have special fonts for occasions such as the Track Day, Akvo RSR training and other exciting things. 

It’s great showing how diverse and flexible we are by using an array fonts for different occasions, but it turns out to have some tricky side effects too. If you are presenting a slide deck without having the typeface installed on your computer, it will be replaced by a standard font. This often distorts the lay out of slides and makes the presentation look poor, which is a shame, as we spent a lot of time thinking of a good story line and we like matching that up with nice looking slide decks. 
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Introducing the Yes Or No Game

by Mark Charmer


Last summer I went to Burning Man in Nevada. I ended up helping some nice guys from Malibu run a donations-driven food truck for a few days. I did front of house, and was mostly in charge of tunes – off my iPod connected to the truck’s radio. They cooked absolutely gorgeous food, based on whatever people happened to give us. Even the propane was donated, connected mysteriously up one night by an anonymous benefactor. I remember asking the guy in charge, Josh, where he’d learned to cook. “Italy,” he replied. Enough said. We probably had the best cooking facilities in Black Rock City, the gigantic temporary refugee camp we all made home for a week. At Burning Man you’re not allowed to buy or sell anything (including food), so we were a pretty popular stop.

On the weekend morning (I think it was the Saturday) a really nice atmosphere developed around the truck and lots of great people were milling about. We got on to talking about the art of asking great questions. Questions are really interesting, because the right question, framed and phrased carefully, can help people solve problems, work out what’s right and decide what’s wrong. I explained how I really wish someone would build me a rig you could wheel into a room, like a gameshow prop, called “The Yes Or No Game”, with two pulsating buttons simply saying “yes” or “no”, plus some sound effects. Introduced at the right moment in group discussions or meetings it would be a really fun way to pose questions and achieve clarity and maybe consensus.

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Connect4Change in Southern Africa

by Andrew Molo

Around mid-March 2014, I had the opportunity to help conduct an Akvo FLOW training workshop in Lusaka, Zambia with some of our Connect4Change partners. Connect4Change is a consortium lead by five organisations: Akvo, Cordaid, Edukans, ICCO and IICD. It aims to accelerate the development of people in Africa and Latin America by using information and communication technology (ICT), and operates in various sectors such as health, education and agriculture.

Most Akvo FLOW training sessions I have taken part in so far have revolved around water, sanitation and health (WASH) projects. This one, on the other hand, involved farmers and various other stakeholders in the agriculture and education sectors in Zambia. 
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Akvo FLOW and the Ghana Netherlands Water, Sanitation & Hygiene Program

by Charlotte Soedjak

The Ghana Netherlands Water, Sanitation & Hygiene Program (GNWP) aims at creating awareness and behaviour change around water use, sanitation and hygiene, particularly among young people in schools. Running from 2012 to 2017, it focuses on five districts in Ghana: Ga South, Ga West and Ga Central in the Greater Accra Region; Cape Coast Metropolitan and the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem (KEEA) constituency in the Central Region.

The main partners in the GNWP consortium are Berenschot, Witteveen+Bos and Simavi. Akvo FLOW is being used in the ‘WASH for schools’ programme – which forms an important part of the GNWP – to create baseline surveys on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities and practices, initially in 250 schools.

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Nepal WASH Alliance

by Isha Parihar

top image

The Dutch WASH Alliance is a €50 million Dutch government programme headed by a consortia of six Dutch organisations active in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector: WASTE, Simavi, RAIN, AMREF, Akvo and ICCO. It aims to increase access to safe and sustainable water and sanitation services and improve hygiene practices, especially for women and marginalised communities. The WASH Alliance is a five year (2011-2015) programme that operates with the help of local partner organisations in eight countries; Bangladesh, Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Uganda and Nepal. 

The Nepal WASH Alliance has nine partners who have been using Akvo RSR and Akvo FLOW in their respective WASH projects. Read More »

What is innovation?

by Kendra Terry


I recently attended a Technology Salon during which we spoke about the meaning of innovation.  The salon brought about 30 people, with backgrounds ranging from university educators to NGO staff and founders to USAID personnel, all asking what is innovation?  Innovation is creativity, it is bringing new solutions to old problems, it is a reworking of entire departments in otherwise bureaucratic institutions. 

The salon got me thinking about how innovation is central to international development.  There is a host of mostly smaller organizations whose very makeup is innovative and then there are the bigger and more established organizations, some of which more or less turn their heads to new ideas, or have until now.

Photo credit: TakingITGlobal via Wikimedia Commons.

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Announcing Akvo Foundation USA

by Emily Armanetti

Stamp-USAWe’ve officially set up Akvo Foundation USA, with headquarters at the OpenGovHub in Washington, D.C. and an office in New York City. Akvo Foundation USA (501(c)(3)) will operate as an independent entity from Akvo Foundation in the Netherlands, while working in close collaboration with our network of hub offices around the world. We have an MOU in place with Akvo Foundation in the Netherlands, which outlines roles and responsibilities and we are accountable to an active and engaged board with whom we meet quarterly.

Quite a lot of work has gone into establishing the U.S. foundation and, now that we’ve had a chance to catch our breath, it seems like a good time to clarify what this means for Akvo and our partners. I recently caught up with Henry Jewell, executive director of Akvo Foundation USA, to answer some key questions.
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Akvo RSR Up now available in the Google Play Store

by Adrian Collier


We mentioned back in January that we were beta testing an Android mobile application. Well we’re super pleased to announce that we have completed this test run and are ready to launch this to the big wide world!

It’s called Ako RSR Up and is designed and created to Upload project Updates from Android devices.

From today Akvo RSR Up is available in the Google Play store for free. Making it extremely easy and simple to download and install. We’ve made an instructional YouTube video and also provided user documentation within the apps GitHub repository.
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9 questions for Akvopedians

by Mark Charmer


Akvopedia is a free-to-use online resource for finding and sharing knowledge about water, sanitation and hygiene projects.

We’ve just designed an online survey that aims to examine and understand better the global Akvopedia user experience. It’s really simple and quick to complete – 9 easy questions, taking a few minutes at most. If you use Akvopedia, we’d love to hear your views. Just head over to www.akvopedia.org and the survey will pop up automatically.

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Feeling the change in Myanmar

by Frodo van Oostveen

I heard via the grapevine about the first ever hackathon to take place in Myanmar about three weeks before it happened. The concept of Code for Change - to invite young hackers to spend a weekend working on social issues of importance to Myanmar and the world – was similar to that of many other hackathons that have taken place in different countries. But it was all new for Myanmar - a country on the verge of a connectivity revolution. Furthermore, no two hackathons ever produce the same outcomes, and it’s always good to make talented hackers aware of the power of coding in relation to tackling social issues – especially as we would like to work with Myanmar’s tech community during the country’s digital transformation. 

As I’m now based in Singapore, I’m able to get a good understanding of whether interesting-sounding events such as these are worthwhile to participate in, and in this case my instincts were correct. 75 ‘pioneers of change’ collaborated for 48 hours in 17 teams on seven pressing subjects, including; more accurate weather information for farmers, data-gathering via mobile phones, crowd-source election monitoring systems and connection with cultural heritage.

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