On Sunday 1st May, Kathelyne and I headed out towards Kampala, Uganda. We are here in Uganda until the 7th of May, after which we move on to Kenya. It is a trip that has been in the making for some time now. In these two weeks our agenda is fully packed – we have stacks of meetings, workshops, and roundtables set with current and new partners. We’re also grabbing the chance to visit projects and to do pilot testing of brand new Akvo features.

Water pump in Kisozi, Uganda_resized.jpg

People queuing up to collect water in Kisozi, Uganda. A typical sight in many parts of Africa. Photo by Kathelyne van den Berg 05-05-2011

Two days before we left, the development team released Akvo Really Simple Reporting (Akvo RSR) 1.0.8. In this release there are a couple of very exciting new features. For the first time it’s possible to send SMS (text messages) directly from the field, which show up as updates on project pages. Two days after we arrived I got the chance to start testing this on site in Mmanze, Uganda. Here our local partner MACEDURET currently has 3 projects online on Akvo. Being able to send out SMS updates turned out to be really easy. Take a look at the results: here and here.

When I was at the project sites I got a chance to also do a short video interview with Mr. Mulindwa William, who runs the projects there for MACEDURET. Once I got back to my hotel that afternoon I quickly edited the video and uploaded it on Akvo.tv. I immediately went out to test our other new feature: placing Video updates. The result blew my mind! Here you can see the very first Akvo RSR video update ever!

Today Kathelyne and I travelled with confidence up to Kisozi to visit another project on Akvo, which is being implemented by Hope Alive Uganda (HAU). Eddy Kiirya Mpoya, who is one of the Directors of HAU, showed us around Kisozi and the results so far of the project. Again both SMS and a Video update were made successfully and you can see the results here.

In using Akvo Really Simple Reporting (RSR) our partners now get the chance to add updates in 3 different ways:
– Add pictures and text through the web
– Send SMS messages
– Embed videos

For those of you keen to start using these features, any partner can now post video updates just like they’d post an Akvo RSR text or photo update online, though SMS is still in “closed testing” right now. I’m certain both will be welcomed by field and support partners around the world.

Luuk Diphoorn is project coordinator at Akvo.