Akvo West Africa Team Week 2017

by Wendemi Ilboudo

Ci-dessus: la photo de famille des membres de l’équipe. Photo prise par Soulama Tiémogo

Avec un climat rafraîchissant et dotée de sites touristiques naturels, Banfora, la ville carrefour entre le Burkina Faso, la Côte d’Ivoire et le Mali, était l’endroit de rassemblement idéal pour réunir les deux équipes du Hub Afrique de l’Ouest. Le Team Week, auquel j’allais participer pour la deuxième fois, est une rencontre des membres de l’équipe qui travaillent pour Akvo sur le plan régional ou international. Depuis qu’il avait été annoncé, j’étais impatiente car j’avais des interrogations concernant la gestion des projets auxquelles j’espérais trouver des réponses.  

Cette année, le Team Week a eu lieu du 10 au 14 avril, et je voudrais vous faire part de ce que nous avons vécu pendant ces cinq jours. Nos connaissances, nos priorités professionnelles, nos incompréhensions et mieux encore, nos émotions ont été mises en évidence pour nous permettre de passer une semaine inoubliable.

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The key to users’ happiness? Story mapping.

by Jana Gombitova

Creating a tool that users value is an important goal for each product team. Truly addressing our users’ needs, simplifying their tasks, or making them delighted, keeps us motivated and pushes us forward. But it is not easy to achieve.

Since May 2015 I’ve been part of the Akvo Flow product team. Our main focus is to create a powerful data capturing tool. For me this means understanding where our partners experience difficulties, identifying what changes we want to bring and constantly seeking improvements. I ask ‘Why?’ a lot. Satisfying this curiosity is one of the many reasons why I love my job.
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Superman’s pants and creative briefs

by Linda Leunissen

When getting dressed to go to work in the morning, most people start with the basics: their underwear. And I’m not talking socks here, I’m talking briefs. Underpants. It’s your base layer. It’s important to start with this layer first, as it ensures that everything you put on afterwards fits on top neatly. So briefs first, dressing up second. Unless you are Superman of course, in which case briefs go on the outside. 

It’s no different in a creative process. The creative process is a complicated one and, writers, designers and developers work hard to get to an end result. Usually they have to work with vague descriptions of what the end product should look like. They’ll ask difficult questions to understand the needs of the request better, but too often people asking for copy, an illustration or feature are a little unclear themselves what it is they are looking for. Read More »

Waving good bye to Kenya

by Luuk Diphoorn

Above: The complete Akvo East Africa team, as when the picture was taken in Mombasa, Kenya in June 2016.

In April 2012 I left Amsterdam and flew out to Nairobi to embark on my new exciting East Africa adventure for Akvo. Fast-forward to now five years later, I’m nearing the end of that amazing journey. In about two months time, so mid-June 2017, I will be moving back home to the Netherlands to start out on another adventure, but this time back in Akvo’s headquarters in Amsterdam.

With the end now clearly in sight I felt it was a good opportunity to reflect a bit on what we have achieved in those years. I do want to stress that it was a huge team effort from Akvo globally and regionally. There is no way that I could have done any of this by myself. Read More »

Helvetas Guatemala strengthens its results-based approach and online data collection

by Ethel Mendez Castillo

Lea este caso de estudio en español aqui.

HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation is a Swiss development organization that works to create a just world in which all human beings can live a life in dignity and security, exercising self-determination, making sustainable use of natural resources and conserving the environment.
Above (left to right): Isabel Ventura, Sanitation Facilitator, SAHTOSO; Silvia Castillo, Project Coordinator, WIP; Marcelo García, Project Coordinator, FORJA; Julio Boj, Integrity Advisor, WIP. Tejutla, San Marcos, Guatemala. 15 February 2017. Photo by J. Andrés Gálvez-Sobral.

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Helvetas Guatemala fortalece su enfoque de resultados y la recolección de datos en línea

by Ethel Mendez Castillo

HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation es una organización suiza de ayuda al desarrollo que trabaja para lograr un mundo justo en el cual todos los seres humanos puedan vivir una vida auto determinada, digna y segura, utilizando los recursos naturales de forma sostenible y conservando el medio ambiente.

Arriba: Isabel Ventura, Facilitadora de Saneamiento, SAHTOSO; Silvia Castillo, Coordinadora del Proyecto, WIP; Marcelo García, Coordinador del Proyecto, FORJA; Julio Boj, Asesor de Integridad, WIP; Tejutla, San Marcos, Guatemala. 15 de febrero de 2017. Foto de J. Andrés Gálvez-Sobral.

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What’s the outlook for citizen observatories?

by Harro Riedstra

Above: citizen science in the early 20th century – Audubon Christmas Bird Count.

Citizen science is a rapidly growing phenomenon. It has been evolving over the past four decades, but the term entered the Oxford English Dictionary only in June 2014. Its recent explosion in popularity can in part be attributed to technology enabling ordinary citizens to participate with ease and on a large scale.

What is citizen science?

In its most basic definition, citizen science is simply “science done by amateurs”. This form of science has been around for ages. Some of the most well-known scientists of the past were amateurs that were interested the world around them, including Benjamin Franklin and Charles Darwin.

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Akvo en visite terrain à Goungla

by Wendemi Ilboudo

Ci-dessus: un enquêteur et une enquêtée en session de travail lors de l’arrivée des membres de Akvo à Goungla. Ils sont rejoints par Eméline Béréziat et M. Lompo (de gauche à droite). Photo prise par Wendemi Ilboudo.

La collaboration entre Akvo et Tiipaalga dure depuis trois années, et au vu des actions menées ensemble, on pourrait dire que chacune des deux organisations y trouve son compte. TiiPaalga est une organisation non-gouvernementale (ONG), créée officiellement en mai 2006. L’objectif visé par l’ONG est « de soutenir les populations rurales au Burkina Faso pour une gestion durable des ressources naturelles et lutter contre la pauvreté par la promotion d’activités génératrices de revenus. » 

Afin d’atteindre cet objectif, elle exécute de nombreux projets dont celui sur le crédit carbone. Le projet “crédit carbone” est un projet qui prend en compte la protection de l’environnement pour les générations futures. Pour y parvenir, TiiPaalga met en oeuvre des actions dont l’une des plus palpables est la formation des populations. C’est dans ce sens que l’ONG prône la formation des femmes à la fabrication de foyers améliorés. Une fois formées, ces femmes peuvent désormais s’entraider pour construire elles même leurs cuisinières.
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Get ready to scale with a simpler and more stable Akvo Flow

by Jana Gombitova

We started this year with one goal in mind: to make Flow so stable and reliable that it lets you scale your data collection limitlessly. We defined a number of technical, functional and design improvements to tackle and got started.

Our work in the first two months of 2017 focused on technical improvements. We scoped out what we call the Flow refactor – a project to restructure the way Flow handles data, without changing any of the tool’s behaviour. Secondly, we started breaking down the code into smaller chunks to build tests around these functionalities. This means we are ensuring that every release works as expected, more rapidly. Above all, we have been focusing on fixing the code to improve its stability, loading times and performance.
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New Akvopedia app launches

by Jo Pratt

A new Akvopedia app for Android mobiles and tablets is now available in Google Play.

Akvopedia is Akvo’s free online resource for finding and sharing knowledge about all stages of water, sanitation and hygiene projects, as well as food and nutrition security. It’s filled with information on smart and affordable technologies and approaches in rural or urban settings and is also widely used by project teams to learn more about financing, constructing and maintaining a project to keep it functioning and stable for the long term.

Anyone can edit and contribute knowledge to Akvopedia via the akvopedia.org website. It currently contains around 2,000 articles primarily in English, as well as some pages in eight other languages, mostly within the water and sanitation portals: French, Spanish, Hindi, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Swahili, Tamil and Malayalam.

The initial release of the Akvopedia app lets you access all the information from Akvopedia.org on your Android device. You can search and browse articles, and save content in order to access it while you’re offline. You can also adjust the font size for easier to read text. Video is currently disabled in the app, but will be working in a future release

Jo Pratt is a communications consultant based in the UK. You can follow her on Twitter @jo108.