A view from the AfricaSan conference

by Dagmar Verbeek

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We talk a lot about Water and Sanitation (WASH), but in most cases it is the water topic that catches most of our attention. After the World Water Forum in South Korea (which gathered people from all over the world – all interested in WASH issues), another conference took place: AfricaSan. This event brought together about 500 people from governments, NGOs and the private sector from all over Africa to discuss sanitation issues for three days.

The main achievement of the conference was the ‘Ngor Ministerial Statement’ that reiterates the commitment of African ministers and other players in the sector to sanitation for all and an end to open defecation.
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SNV, Zambia – improves rural water supplies with mapping and monitoring

by Jo Pratt

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SNV is a Dutch NGO with a long history of
alleviating poverty by focusing on increasing people’s income and employment opportunities and improving their access to basic services.

Akvo is closely collaborating with SNV globally to realise a number of programmes aimed at enhancing the equity, sustainability and effectiveness of WASH services and agricultural practices as well as improving the effectiveness of the international development sector overall through the introduction of online tools.

Above: Rachael Silomba, deputy director engineering/coordinator Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Unit, Kasama Municipal Council. Milenge Primary School, Kasama, 29 June 2015. Photo by Kabelenga Phiri.

What’s happening in Zambia

Most local authorities in Zambia do not have adequate reliable data on the status of water services. They rely largely on paper-based manual systems for gathering and processing information. These systems are slow and error-prone and ultimately inhibit timely availability of data to service managers.

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Akvopedia expands into Wikiversity, develops new app

by Winona Azure

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In a bid to open up our water and sanitation (plus food security) wiki Akvopedia to many more people, we have begun loading content into Wikiversity. To share our content even further, expanding our type of users, we’re developing an app for mobile devices.

A good match
There are a number of reasons why Akvopedia and Wikiversity make a fine pair. With an average of six million page views per month (compared to Akvopedia’s 40,000), Wikiversity is a Wikimedia Foundation project devoted to sharing all kinds of educational resources. We like to think of Wikiversity and Akvopedia as containing ‘active knowledge'; knowledge that not only informs its readers, but leads and enables them to take action. Akvopedia shares a similar structure as Wikiversity in that it’s free to use service is designed to openly share information. However, Akvopedia also has a unique niche worth sharing. With its low cost, appropriate technologies and other essential project management information that was historically difficult to share and access, our more than 1,000 pages of ‘how-to-do’ water and sanitation approaches and projects will soon be available to Wikiversity users.  A survey of Akvopedia visitors last year showed that half use Akvopedia for academic research or teaching purposes, which aligns nicely with Wikiversity. 

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New Akvopedia Food and Nutrition Security portal

by Winona Azure

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This week we’ve added a completely new portal to Akvopedia, focused on food – specifically food security. This reflects the critical importance of resilient food systems within our water and sanitation knowledge base. Here’s a joint statement about it, with ICCO, for those who want to share it or write about it.



New Akvopedia Food and Nutrition Security Portal

Amsterdam, 10 June 2015 – Easy access and sharing of practical information on food and nutrition security in developing countries – that’s the purpose of the Food and Nutrition Security Portal within Akvopedia, which went live this week. The portal is an initiative of ICCO Cooperation and Akvo and can be found here.

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The expanding role of technology in the water and sanitation sector

by Henry Jewell

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Above: full house at the ICT for WASH event in Washington DC, USA. Photo by Ben Mann.
Below:
Kidus Asfaw of Unicef joins a panel discussion via Skype. Other panelists are Samia Melhem (World Bank), Patricia Mechael (mHealth expert), Mary Roach (GSMA) and moderator Evariste Kouassi Komlan. Photo by Josje Spierings.

In late 2013 I wrote a blog about the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector. It was clear at this time that lots was happening in this space but that it was still a side topic, which did not warrant its own stage.

I’m pleased to say that things have changed in the intervening 18 months or so, and this is no longer the case. So on May 14-15, we jointly hosted a two-day WASH and ICT event together with the Global Water Challenge (GWC), UNICEF, the Water and Sanitation Program at the World Bank and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS). It took place at the OpenGov Hub, which is where we call home. 

It was an informative event with many great presentations, some interactive group work and expert panels, all aimed at evaluating the status of ICT in WASH. Here are some of my key takeaways from the event:

Challenges, and the Principles of Digital Development – One of the main goals of the event was to identify challenges and then propose solutions and concrete commitments to address these challenges. It quickly became apparent that many of the challenges that the participants identified tied in with the 9 pillars of the Principles of Digital Development. In many cases the most important things to tackle are the hardest things to achieve. More details on the outcomes of these conversations will be made public shortly.
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WakaWaka, Rwanda – tracks distribution & sales of solar lights & chargers

by Jo Pratt

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Above: members of the WakaWaka team attend a training workshop on Akvo FLOW in Kigali to learn how to use it and how to train their colleagues to use it. 6 October 2014. Photo by Tim Janssen.

WakaWaka is an impact driven, social venture that fights to abolish energy poverty throughout the world. It develops, manufactures and markets high-tech low-cost solar powered lamps and chargers. Proceeds made from selling WakaWaka products in developed markets at competitive prices are used to make them available to off-grid communities around the world at an affordable rate. Read More »

Assessing damage & WASH status in Gorkha using Akvo FLOW

by Jigmy Lama


Top (L): A community in Finam Village Development Committee (VDC), Top(R) Test Data collection in Deurali VDC Bottom (R and L): Enumerators on the move for data collection Photos By: Jigmy Lama/Akvo

The post earthquake relief work in Nepal sprouted like wild mushrooms in a rain forest.

Everyone wanted to help. Everyone wanted to support. And as anticipated, heaps of support entered the country, even generated internally, and we saw like never before, tremendously unorganised and poorly coordinated system working amidst devastation. Lack of knowledge about on-the-ground realities and unavailable data for planning the response were major reasons for this chaotically “hung” situation. To avoid it from worsening further and support in our own way, we started bringing in together all our partners who were using Akvo tools to make them useful for assessing all sort of ground information and bring it into a platform to share among all concerned.

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Kenya becomes first Dutch embassy to show all development work online

by Luuk Diphoorn

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Photo: Dutch development investment in Kenya is extremely diverse, including fields such as social change through cultural arts. (Centre) Jane Mbugua and Rahim Otieno of Sarakasi Trust; Shitemi Khamadi, PAWA254; Lynnet Ngigi, Kuona Trust accompanied by the Sarakasi dancers and acrobats. Photo credit: Mwarv Kirubi, 4 July 2014.

Today we are at the Netherlands Embassy in Nairobi to attend its NGO Day. Akvo gets big billing as it will be explained that the full portfolio of €100 million of Dutch development cooperation projects in Kenya is now online through Akvo RSR, with a move towards full compliance with IATI soon. Here’s the announcement for the local press.



Netherlands Embassy in Kenya is first to publish full development portfolio online, towards IATI standard
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When God left the City of Temples

by Jigmy Lama

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Saturday, 25 April 2015 marked a black day in Nepali history as Kathmandu and 38 other districts experienced a 7.6 Richter scale earthquake at 11:56 am. In the four days that followed, more than 700 shocks were recorded, 600 of them above 4 on the Richter scale.

Eight million lives have been affected with severe loss of life and property across 11 districts. As I write, the data shows 5,489 deaths and 10,965 injuries, and these numbers are expected to double by the time the search and rescue is completed (Source: National Emergency Operation Centre, Ministry of Home Affairs and UN Data, 30 April 2015). Numerous major heritage sites, temples and shrines have been damaged or destroyed completely. For example, Kasthmandap, a temple in Kathmandu Durbar Square that was built from a single tree during the early sixteenth century, is now completely destroyed. The Darahara or Bhimsen Tower, rebuilt in 1934 following its destruction in a mega earthquake that devastated Kathmandu Valley, is only debris now. Durbar Squares in all three cities, Kathmandu, Bhakatapur and Lalitpur, and the Durbar High School, Nepal’s first school, also could not survive this quake and all sustained severe damage.

News of the quake flooded regional and international media and soon the world came to know that the land of the Himalayas was engulfed by nature’s ruthless act. Expressions of grief and sympathy along with support from the international community started to flood in. However, all this has been overshadowed by the tremendous shock that people in Nepal still feel, while coping with countless tremors, to realise that the long-expected threat has turned into a reality. It’s really hard to take it all in. Read More »