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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The power of photography

by Linda Leunissen

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I love taking photographs. Especially when travelling I see amazing images everywhere I look. I think it’s because often, when you travel, you see things for the first time, and that’s when it hits you: the beauty or simplicity of something that you would take for granted at home. 

A lot of my Akvo colleagues have a similar love for photography. I think seeing beauty in the world is partially why many of us do the work we do at Akvo. I’m even more grateful for my colleagues’ enthusiasm for taking photographs, as I often find myself trawling through their Flickr feeds to find the latest and greatest images to use on the website or in printed materials. Read More »

Gearing up for Stockholm World Water Week (Stand 23)

by Jo Pratt

Above: Stockholm, photo by Ulf Bodin.

World Water Week has always been a milestone event for Akvo. It’s where we started out in 2006, and we’ve been back each year, connecting the technology and water sectors. Following on from last year’s event, which we dubbed Stockholm#9, we are getting ready for another chance to meet people from across the sector, hear about their most recent innovations and share our own.

This year (29 August – 2 September) we’re going to be in Stand 23 on the 2nd floor of the main exhibition hall.
What’s new this year?

We will be presenting two new products we are developing, which we’re pretty excited about:

Akvo Caddisfly is an innovative water quality testing kit based around a smartphone. It works on the spot, making testing faster, more accessible, affordable and scalable than existing lab-based methods. Last year we previewed a prototype of Caddisfly’s fluoride test kit. This year we’ll be showing something that’s a lot closer to what the market-ready kit will look like, and which has been field tested with very positive results. Additionally, we’ll be showing Caddisfly’s smartphone-based electrical conductivity (EC) sensor that indicates the levels of dissolved salts in water, as well as Caddisfly’s strip test capabilities that enable you to accurately test water for any parameter for which a strip text exists and capture the results digitally. Stop by our booth for a demo, or fix up a meeting

Akvo Lumen is Akvo’s new platform for understanding and using data in international development. It gives you an easy way to combine data sets from different sources and extract the information hidden within them. It is still under development and will initially be piloted with people involved in improving global water and sanitation services and infrastructure. We have been working closely with numerous partners who are leaders in their fields in order to benefit from their sector expertise and ensure we achieve a user-centric design. Come to the Akvo Lumen preview event, stop by the Akvo stand for a demo, or fix up a meeting.

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L’avenir du suivi-fonctionnalité des pompes

by Birama Sangaré

Les populations rurales du Mali sont confrontées a une difficulté majeure relative à l’accès à l’eau potable. Le phénomène est récurrent et est dû aux pannes des pompes à eau qui demeurent non réparées. Il faut également noter l’absence d’un mécanisme de remontée d’informations et de coordination des activités de réparation des pompes. Les statistiques confirment cette triste réalité à l’échelle nationale avec un taux de 67%.

Dès lors, cette situation suscite des interrogations:
1) Comment améliorer la fonctionnalité des points d’eau?
2) Quel système ou mécanisme adopté pour un meilleur suivi et une réparation rapide des ces pompes?

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Les artisans réparateurs font l’état des réparations à la mairie après chaque intervention. Le point focal M Broulaye Malle (au milieu) renseignant les fiches de réparation avec les artisans M Nouhoun Samare (à gauche) et M Bourama Fane. (Photo prise par Birama Sangaré.)

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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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