Akvo at World Water Week 2014

by Thomas Bjelkeman-Pettersson

stockholm Akvo has a long relationship with World Water Week, hosted late each summer in Stockholm. This year we’re back once again, at the Stockholmsmässan congress centre, from Monday 1st to Friday 5th September 2014.

Demos of Akvo tools in action
The Akvo team has never had a bigger, better story to share than we do today. More than €1 billion of water sector development programmes now use Akvo tools to bring project activity online, make it easy to update and to undertake monitoring and evaluation, using the internet and smart phones. 
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The state of Akvo FLOW, August 2014

by Thomas Bjelkeman-Pettersson

In March 2012 Water for People and Akvo penned an agreement where we at Akvo took over the development and operation of FLOW and also supporting partner organisations using the product. Since then we have made great strides on both the development and usage of FLOW.

FLOW timeline
A timeline of Akvo FLOW development 2012-2014

Guided by great feedback from our partners, we have been really busy working to further develop and improve Akvo FLOW. With this in mind, we thought it was a good time to give an update on progress.

Product improvements

The FLOW development team has gotten in to a steady rhythm of releases to make sure that improvements and new functionalities are reaching partners as soon as possible.

Monitoring features – One of the most exciting and most requested new features has been what we call ‘monitoring features’. This new functionality allows you to revisit something — e.g. a water pump, a school, farmer, — that was surveyed before, and add new survey data, so you can monitor it over time. This is critical because it moves monitoring beyond baseline and endline collections and makes it easier to gather information during a project; which can be used for decision making to steer projects during their implementation. Documentation is currently being developed for this in preparation for a full rollout in the next couple of weeks.

Akvo FLOW server-side map clustering and FLOW app with monitoring (history tab)
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Akvo and the SSH4A training marathon

by Luuk Diphoorn

In April 2014, SNV and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) officially launched the multi-country Sustainable Sanitation & Hygiene for All (SSH4A) Results Programme, which will be conducted across nine countries in Africa and Asia from 2014 to 2018. DFID awarded SNV with a €28 million service contract to fund the SSH4A Results Programme in nine countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nepal, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. It aims to improve the lives of around 2 million people with better sanitation. SNV approached Akvo to support it in the SSH4A programme, through various country training exercises and technical support in the use of Akvo FLOW, first during the “baseline” – setting the initial bar against which progress would be measured – and then the first mid-term monitoring household survey data collection exercises.

Akvo has just finished conducting training exercises in nine countries, within a timespan of two weeks. Here I explain what we did and some of the challenges each country team faced, and what the results are so far in terms of the various data collection efforts.

Screenshot Map of SSH4A Dashboard_850
Caption: Screenshot of map within SSH4A Akvo FLOW Dashboard showing data collected in the nine countries.
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Open Development – trends, concerns and opportunities

by Josje Spierings

Photo blog
Last month, I attended the open knowledge festival (OKFest14) in Berlin. A two day conference about all kinds of ‘open’ – open knowledge, open science, open culture, open data and more. The ‘open’ that sparks my interest is Open Development.

Above: networking at OKFest14. Photo by Josje Spierings. Berlin, July 2014.

There are several definitions of Open Development, some short and brief and others more in detail (such as this, by Tim Davies, World Bank). But I would like to give my view on how I see one part of Open Development, namely the open development data focused on development cooperation.

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Michael Jackson gloves (How to deal with RSI)

by Linda Leunissen

Michael-Jackson-gloves As a graphic designer I spend a lot of time working on my computer. On an average day I start with catching up on Skype chats and reading through my emails and answering them. Then I usually set my keyboard aside and start working on designs for leaflets, the website or other exciting things I get to design. I use a few keyboard shortcuts, but most of the time I’m click click clicking away with my mouse. This is my routine, three days a week. Until recently.
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Looking at the world through Singaporean glasses

by Frodo van Oostveen


Today I’m working from my flexible office – Jewel Coffee Bar in the Singapore Business District Area. I’ve just finished a conversation about potentially registering Akvo Singapore which took place around the corner in the Hong Leong building, on the 33rd floor. Singapore is a city of cultural and architectural extremes. Although I’ve been working from home and coffee bars for four months (100 days) now – and still enjoying it – I’m still not used to it.

Lets have a doppio espresso and reflect on my first 100 days in this new role. There are many items on the check-list, including getting a multi-dimensional view of the business, identifying our biggest challenges, building a team and not forgetting work-life balance. 

Akvo is in the process of growing through regional hubs where local staff can build our partners’ capacity for reporting and monitoring through training and support to use our tools. But our partners don’t have any projects on the ground in Singapore, so I’m focusing on building partnerships (from Singapore) with organisations with a regional focus. A new trend is gaining momentum here known as impact investing. Last month I attended Impact Asia Forum, at the end of August I will participate in Bottom of the Pyramid World in Singapore.
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Netherlands Embassy in Nairobi

by Elma den Toom

Dutch Embassy Kenya.850px

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


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


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

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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