I’ve spent the last few days attending the Health Roundtable for the new Connect4Change (C4C ) programme at the Lweza training center located just outside Kampala, Uganda. This type of workshop is commonly used in development aid programmes to define the issues people are facing, and get to the heart of the problems they’re trying to solve. By going through this process, the partners end up with new project ideas. This is a typical example of the way projects you see online at Akvo.org come to exist.

Partners attending the Round Table Health from left to right Sam Orach, Betty Walakira, Dorcus Atieno, Hanna Goorden, Olaf Erz and Gottfrey Begumisa by Kathelyne van den Berg, Wednesday 4 May 2011.


I was there to get better familiarised with the new Health focus area (to date we’ve worked mainly to support water and sanitation projects) and to meet with the people who will be leading the field work here in Uganda. These are local partners of Cordaid and IICD, that Akvo will be supporting in the C4C program. Local Ugandan partner organisations attended in force, including Health Child, UCMB, Health Office Jinja Diocise, I-Network, HAG, UNHCO, TTC – and of course I was there representing Akvo.

This Roundtable has been organized by IICD and Cordaid in cooperation with Oxfam Novib with the idea to come up with projects in the health sector that integrate IT and Communication (or “ICT” as it’s known in development circles). The nice thing about the first day was that the discussions were focused around what the driving forces are for the partners and what the main issues are that the health sector in Uganda is facing, and not to dive deep straight away into what kind of ICT solutions could be available.

First, the two most important driving forces were indicated (the enabling environment and the community empowerment) by four separate groups and four scenarios were defined. At the end of the first day the scenario was done and the groups presented the four different scenarios to each other by doing a role-playing exercise. This gave a good impression of what the different scenarios were and was in some cases were really hilarious because everyone took their role very seriously!

The atmosphere was good, the discussions lively and everyone participated actively.

The second day was used to formulate the project ideas according to the main driving forces and communication and information needs that were discussed earlier. It seems that formulating the “problem statement” for the projects can be quite difficult, but partners here were eager to help each other providing constant feedback and critical notes. In this video Dorcas, who is working at the Health Office Jinja Diocise, describes to me the main problems she faces, along with the type of project ideas she is implementing under the Connect4Change programme.

Akvo’s Kathelyne van den Berg talks with Dorcus Atieno at the Health Office Jinja Diocese. Kampala, Uganda, 4 May 2011.

Sarah from Health Child hooked me up with a Text To Change quiz and right away I received a promising message: “Welcome, you have entered the Health Child and Text to Change SMS Quiz!”. It is as simple as that.

While I was attending the Roundtable workshop, Luuk was testing our new SMS and Video update features in the field on two water projects in Mmanze. Initial results can be seen here. Today we travel to Jinja to meet some other partners like CFSU and visit this project – “A borehole in Kisozi”. So follow the progress online. We’re continuing to test and refine our new SMS and Video update features, which Luuk will explain in more detail soon.

Kathelyne van den Berg, is Connect4Change programme coordinator at Akvo. Follow her on Twitter at @kathelyne.