Last year we embarked on a number of new collaborations with SNV in various countries all over the world. SNV is a large Dutch NGO that has a local presence in 28 countries. Its work is focused on three main sectors; agriculture, energy and water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH).

We began working with SNV in Kenya in 2012 when together we brought all its WaSH programs online on Akvo RSR. In 2014 our joint efforts extended to include a number of programmes using Akvo FLOW, again predominantly within SNV’s WaSH sector programmes. Then last year we embarked on twelve new collaborations that were mostly focused on the use of Akvo FLOW within the agriculture and energy sectors.

Two of these twelve were in East Africa and were aimed at the use of Akvo FLOW within a horticulture programme in Kenya and/or Ethiopia, and a solar systems programme in Tanzania. It was our first chance to work with the SNV country teams in Kenya and Tanzania within these specific sectors of agriculture and renewable energy. We began working on both these programmes last June and we completed the start-up phases in December, just before the Christmas holidays break.

Above: A village marketplace in Kenya. Photo: SNV Kenya.

Improving horticulture in Kenya
SNV was initially looking at introducing Akvo FLOW in its horticulture programmes in both Kenya and Ethiopia. However at the outset we jointly decided to just focus on Kenya because the programme in Ethiopia was not yet officially launched, and so it was a little early for us to work together there. In Kenya SNV is leading the consortium that is implementing the Kenya Market-led Horticulture Programme also known as hortIMPACT, which started in January 2015. The overall aim of HortIMPACT is to contribute to increased food security, increased incomes, and a more dynamic and sustainable horticulture sector in Kenya. It addresses three main themes, crucial for further development of the horticulture sector:
1) inclusion of small and medium-sized, entrepreneurial farmers in supply chains
2) improving food safety and integrated crop protection
3) reducing food losses and efficiency in supply chains.

The HortIMPACT programme mostly focuses on various types of fruits and vegetables. You can follow progress online on Akvo RSR, thanks to our collaboration with the Netherlands Embassy in Kenya

Our main objective was to help SNV get a clearer picture of the existing situation in the areas where it planned to set up its interventions, using FLOW’s data collection features such as the collection of GPS and pictures, the use of monitoring features, and the use of geoshapes features. Based on the data collected with FLOW we would also create a number of data visualisations in the form of maps and graphs showing key indicators, in line with the specific needs and requirements of the hortIMPACT team.

Kenya team learns to use Akvo FLOW
We held a FLOW training exercise for 16 programme staff in August 2015 in Nakuru, Kenya. Participants included advisors from the hortIMPACT team, some people from the Ministry of Agriculture sub counties where the programme is taking place, and what SNV refers to as Local Capacity Builders (LCBs), which is a group of local consultants used to undertake various types of work.

We also took the opportunity to carry out some field testing to test the producer group profiling and needs assessment surveys. With support from the Ministry of Agriculture Njoro Sub-County team, we organised field visits to six local farmers’ groups, three in Mauche Sub-County, and another three in Mau Narok Sub County. These visits really helped the data collection teams to get great experience using Akvo FLOW.

Above: Akvo FLOW field test interview with a farmer group in Likia. Photo: Gillian Kadenyi.

Data collection and analysis – Kenya

Three main LCB teams were then responsible for the data collection that took place in all of the counties where the hortIMPACT programme is active, namely; Kiambu, Laikipia, Makueni, Meru, Nakuru, Narok, Nyandarua, Nyeri, and Uasin Gishu. The data that was collected was focused on information such as the type of businesses, the characteristics of these small-scale and medium-scale farmers, and the different types of service providers. Although not necessarily what can be defined as a baseline data collection effort, the data that was collected was aimed at getting a clearer picture of hortIMPACT’s target groups.

By October 2015, the data collection was completed. We then set up various types of data visualisations based on the data collected with FLOW which can be filtered to show county and sub-county levels. A number of key indicators were included. Below is a screenshot of a visualisation showing the indicator ‘legal status of business’. You can see that 60.4% of businesses are not formally registered.

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Above: screenshot of the online visualisations setup for the hortIMPACT programme.
Improving solar sales monitoring in Tanzania

SNV’s main solar systems programme in Tanzania is related to the EnDev Results Based Financing (RBF) project in the Lake Zone, where its sales monitoring of clean energy technology is fairly intensive. The project will continue through to 2017.

Within this RBF programme, various solar suppliers submit sales reports to SNV detailing their customer transactions. This was previously done using paper. Now FLOW is replacing certain components of that whole process. From the reports that are now generated digitally via FLOW, SNV can coordinate the deliveries of both onsite and phone verifications at all points in the supply chain more efficiently and with greater accuracy. 

Above: Lake Victoria, Tanzania, seen from the Mwanza shore. Photo: Charles Kimani.
Below: screenshot of the online visualisations for the solar systems programme. (Company names have been removed.)

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Data collection and analysis – Tanzania
We facilitated an Akvo FLOW training exercise in August 2015 in Mwanza, Tanzania, where we trained ten members of SNV Tanzania’s team to use FLOW for the management of the whole data collection in the solar energy RFB project and also in all of the various other projects that they support. Data collection in the RFB programme took place in the three months following the training, mainly in the Geita, Mwanza, Shinyanga, and Simiyu regions.

As with hortIMPACT in Kenya, we created a number of data visualisations in the form of maps and graphs based on key indicators. These can be filtered on the main supplier type, and also on the specific claim number of the solar products.

What’s next?

We are considering this as just the initial start-up phase with these SNV country teams in Kenya and Tanzania in the use of Akvo FLOW within both of these programmes. I’m sure that we will find many new ways of using Akvo FLOW in these specific programmes, but also more broadly with SNV’s other energy and agriculture sector programmes. 

We are looking forward to continuing our strategic partnership with SNV within both programmes in 2016. In Kenya this also includes incorporating the use of FLOW’s monitoring and geoshapes features within the hortIMPACT programme more intensively, and in Tanzania an up-scaling of the current activities within the solar systems programme to the whole country.

Luuk Diphoorn leads Akvo’s East and Southern Africa Hub, based in Nairobi. You can follow him on Twitter @luukdiphoorn

Updated 17 February 2016 at the request of SNV to remove links from screenshots to the online visualisations.