We Need to Ask the Difficult Questions About Collaboration and Collective Impact

by Henry Jewell

This article originally appeared on ICTworks.


Illustration by Katherine Haugh.

No single organization can solve the challenges that the international development sector addresses. Collectively, we can achieve a lot more. Collaboration is a hot topic at conferences like MERL Tech, but we often just revert back to our regular habits at work rather than operationalizing the changes we talk about. Or, collaboration occurs at a superficial level rather than fundamental change in the way we work together.

Akvo and USAID LEARN convened a MERL Tech session that investigated how collective impact, an approach developed by FSG, can facilitate effective collaboration and what role technology can play in this process.  For example, the New York State juvenile justice system made measurable and significant improvements in community safety, coordination, data-driven decision-making, and outcomes for youth ages 7 to 15 using a collective impact approach.
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Mapping IATI: a business case framework

by Marten Schoonman

With more than 60,000 projects published in over 4,000 datasets IATI is a serious reporting standard. But why get involved? What is the value of joining the list of 480+ publishers?

Akvo’s partner Plan International Finland has been collaborating with Accenture Finland and various other parties to answer exactly these questions, and share the findings with the development sector at large – while also implementing Akvo RSR to publish its own projects to the IATI registry. Together, Plan Finland and Accenture have created an open framework that allows organisations to do a cost-benefit analysis for IATI publication, and decide for themselves what to do.

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Dev Team Week 2016 – it’s all about empowerment

by Nadia Gorchakova


Above: The Akvo dev team. Riga, Latvia. Wednesday 14 September 2016. Photo by Loïc Sans.

9 am. Riga, Latvia. Here we are, kicking off the Dev Team Week 2016.

You might ask what brought us all here in the first place. The family of Akvo products is constantly growing. Our ambitions are often bigger than the resources we have at hand and, as a result, our rockstar Dev team increasingly finds itself under pressure. It was high time, we thought, to break some bad habits and redesign the way we work together.
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New features in Akvo Flow

by Jana Gombitova

There have been a lot of new developments in Akvo Flow in recent months. Here are some highlights:

Geotagging – all photos are now geographically referenced (geotagged). This means the location of where your photo was taken is saved with the photo. 

New languages – the Flow online workspace (dashboard) is now available in Bahasa, Vietnamese and Portuguese, as well as English, French and Spanish.

Signatures – you can now capture respondents’ signatures within your surveys.
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HidroPerú 2030

by Ethel Mendez Castillo


Presenting at HidroPerú 2030. Photo credit: Henry Jewell.
It’s not every day that I get to present in front of a room of more than 650 people and where the President of Perú and the President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) stare at me from the front row. That was HidroPerú 2030: an event the IDB invited us to present at recently. I was prepared for the shock of the five minutes of stardom and, minus a couple stutters and some nervous hand gestures, I eased through my story of how Thomas meeting Jeroen led to what Akvo is now: a team of committed development professionals scattered around the world who believe that working with people and developing open technologies like Akvo Caddisfly and Akvo Flow to capture, understand and share data can bring more collaboration, effectiveness and transparency to the world of development aid.

During the event, participants were asked to travel forward in time and imagine how Perú can achieve water and sanitation services – with quality and for all – by 2030. What would that look like? What story would they want to tell about how they got there? How could that vision be realistically achieved?
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Akvo Track Day in Nepal: old friends, new tools and open data

by Isha Parihar

29713247905_01af393c3a_oThe year 2016 has been very eventful for Akvo in terms of product development. We formally announced two new products, Akvo Caddisfly and Akvo Lumen, along with significant feature upgrades to both Akvo Flow and Akvo RSR. Track Days enable us to share these exciting developments with existing and new partners, while learning about the impact of our current tools in our partners’ work.
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Akvo Track Day: India edition

by Isha Parihar

On a wet July afternoon, Akvo’s South Asia hub held its first Track Day at our Delhi office. The Akvo Track Day format revolves around partners sharing their experiences of using Akvo tools in short, sharp presentations. The invitees ranged from development sector professionals and researchers to open data enthusiasts, and partners of Akvo.

Aga Khan Foundation India
Asad Umar, Senior Programme Officer, Health & WASH from Aga Khan Foundation India (AKF) initiated the round of lightning talks by explaining its sanitation initiative in India involving construction of one hundred thousand toilets under the Swachh Bharat Mission. This programme is being implemented in 15 districts spread across four states of India. A major component of this initiative is to promote usage (and/or behavioural change) and track this over time. Earlier this year, Akvo partnered with AKF to implement Akvo Flow into this ambitious initiative. Asadbhai (as he is fondly known) highlighted that Flow’s monitoring feature easily solved the challenge of verifying each and every toilet constructed and tracking the usage behaviour of families. The AKF India presentation can be accessed here.
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Thanks to Dutch government for Ebola help

by Jo Pratt


Above: William Gyude Moore, Minister of Public Works, Liberia (left) presents certificate of thanks to Dick van Ginhoven, Senior Advisor Water and Sanitation, DGIS at the Dutch Embassy in Stockholm, 30 August 2016. Photo by Jo Pratt.
When the ebola crisis took hold in parts of West Africa in 2014, the world watched in horror and fear as tens of thousands of people died, and outbreaks occurred in different places. The way in which the disease was spread, via physical contact, made it especially awful, as it meant that any act of love or care for the sick could (and, in so many cases, did) prove fatal for the carer and those around them. Many people were therefore left to die alone without even the most basic care.

Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone were the three countries hit hardest by the epidemic. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS) was already engaged in supporting large scale programmes to improve water and sanitation (WASH) services in these countries. During the ebola crisis, the Ministry diverted $20 million from its WASH programme to provide emergency response and assistance to UNICEF and the governments of the affected countries. This money was used to provide medical care, training and household protection kits. Additional funding for the same amount was then given to replace the diverted funds and aid in post-crisis recovery.
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Trying out a new video style

by Anna-Marthe Sessink

I find that great ideas are often born when random events mix together in the right place and at the right time. And so it happened when I met up with Ori Weiser during my holidays in Perth. He was my neighbour while I studied in Tel Aviv, and he later moved to Perth with his family. At GreenHouse Productions, Ori specialises in creating newscasts, commercials and music videos, using a green screen. We started brainstorming about how video could be used to highlight Akvo partner stories in the form of a news broadcast, or ‘newscast’. This also linked in well with the Akvo Comms team’s move towards making more videos in 2016. The Akvo Southeast-Asia & Pacific (SEAP) team was positive about trialling it as a new way to provide updates on our partners’ work in the region.

Here’s our first newscast:

It’s made up of three separate segments:

UTZ Certified Indonesia
Fiji Ministry of Education
What’s new?

This blog chronicles some of our experiences regarding the process from inception through to publishing of the newscast, as well as some of the lessons we learnt along the way.

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