Last week Henry Jewell and I were in San Pedro Sula, the second city of Honduras, with partners from the Millennium Water Alliance Latin America Program (MWA-LAP) which focuses on the replenishment of water for sustainable and healthy communities.
Practicing data collection using Akvo FLOW. San Pedro Sula, Honduras, 13 February 2013 (Photo by Laura Roverts)
In the MWA, which was established in the USA in 2002, organisations work together on sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene programmes in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In the Latin America Program, CAREWater for PeopleWaterAidONE DROPImprove International, World Vision and Living Water International are working on water and sanitation projects in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. The main objectives are increased access to sustainable safe water, sustainable sanitation coverage, improved source and household level drinking water and improved hand-washing practices.

In San Pedro Sula, the MWA partners came together for workshops in order to launch the programme. Rafael Callejas, executive director of the MWA, started the week by explaining the objectives of the MWA-LAP. There were also short presentations about every participating organisation.

From Wednesday it was our turn to introduce Akvo Really Simple Reporting (Akvo RSR) and Akvo FLOW to them. Most presentations were in Spanish. I speak Spanish quite well, but I can tell you after a week in Honduras I am also able to speak fluent Sputchlish, a mixture of Spanish, Dutch and English. It was quite intensive to translate from English to Spanish and the other way around for those who could not understand both languages. Nevertheless, in the end, it worked out really well.

Bringing country programmes to life, online
In the LAP, Akvo RSR will be used to keep everyone informed about the progress of the country programmes. We practiced doing video interviews and we provided the participants with tips and tricks on how to post a good update. The MWA is going to use Akvo FLOW to do household, community water board and waterpoint surveys.

Various employees of Water for People participated in the training. Water for People has got a lot of experience with data collection, using FLOW. It was very useful to hear their experiences from the field and have them share these with the other partners. After practicing collecting data using the real survey there was a chance to share feedback which was used to revise the survey. I’m convinced it was really good to have these discussions in order to achieve consensus on indicators.

Below you can see a video playlist from the sessions. Henry interviewed Ben Mann, research associate at the University of North Carolina, who is responsible for monitoring and evaluation of the programme, about the MWA-LAP and the training week in Honduras. Other interviewees share their thoughts (in Spanish) about the week and how they are going to use RSR and FLOW within the MWA-LAP. For us it has been a very good first week. We learned a lot about the ideas and opinions from all participating partners. Everyone seemed to be very engaged. There was a lot of interaction and discussion and we received some very good feedback. We had discussions about protocols around data handling processes, data validation and quality control of data gathered with the use of FLOW. In addition, using FLOW within an alliance like the MWA helps us to introduce FLOW on a large scale. Last but not least I would like to say a generous thank you to everyone from Water for People for hosting the event.

Susan Davis, executive director of Improve International, quoted an old African proverb in her presentation during the training week:
If you like to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” This perfectly sums up the importance of working together in an alliance like MWA, with different organisations who have their own expertise.
Henry and I are now meeting with the other partners from Living Water and World Vision in Mexico, to do the same programme with them.

You can find some pictures of the MWA LAP launch here in my Picasa.

Further reading: Millennium Water Alliance – LAP: Part II (Henry Jewell, 26 February 2013)

Laura Roverts is project manager for Akvo, based in Amsterdam.