I’m 12,000 feet up in the Andes this week in the dramatic Bolivian city of La Paz, with South American partners in the Connect 4 Change (C4C) consortium. Over the coming four years C4C is bringing online close to 50 million Euro of Dutch development aid projects, focused on health, education and economic development. Akvo is supporting the consortium in a number of ways – mainly by helping everyone involved use Akvo RSR (Really Simple Reporting) to describe what’s happening and to operate and enhance the tools so the consortium stays in tune with tech developments and user expectations.
Bolivia is the financially poorest, highest, most remote country in South America. Kathelyne and I will be seeing some of the projects the local field partners are focusing on.
Today we’re also training everyone on how to use Akvo RSR, in Spanish. Over the last month or so our partner team has been working with everyone via email to gather project locations and descriptions and most of these are now online in draft form. We’ll be reviewing these on site with people and making changes on the fly. Kathlyne is also going to run through the problems Akvo RSR is designed to solve and show everyone how to add text, photo and status updates. We’ll be breaking participants into workgroups to look at the kind of activities that make good project updates.
I will be spending this afternoon showing everyone how they can harness in their day-to-day work simple video cameras such as Flipcams or the ones in people’s smartphones. We’ve developed a Spanish-language presentation based on a blog I wrote a few months back on simple video techniques. This was based on our experience over the course of creating some 600 short video reports, for Akvo.tv and Watercube.tv.
Isabel Ordoñez, who jumped in as a WaterCube reporter at this summer’s Stockholm World Water Week, has done a lovely short training video for us in Spanish with her friend Yenika. They filmed it in Gothenburg, though with those brown tiles they’ve managed to get a great Latin American look, don’t you think? If you click on the YouTube transcript button you can see subtitles in English.
The future of international development is not flying people like me half way around the world to train 30 people on how to use the simplest video camera ever designed. But right now it sums up the magnitude of the opportunity that sits right in front of us – as 2011 draws to a close, most development workers still don’t see the point of bringing all their project work online, and sharing photo and video updates. It’s our job to show them how easy this is to do. And convince them of the importance it will play in the future of their work.
Mark Charmer is a co-founder and communications director at Akvo, based in London.