My internship experience with the Akvo Flow development team

by Mary Musimire Magdalene

Above: A few members of the Akvo Flow development team catching up over Skype. Clockwise from top left: Charles, Stellan, Mary, Jana, Moses, Valeria and Mulo.

Fresh out of university, you’d never imagine your first work experience to be at an international non-profit organisation building open source data tools. But that was the good fortune I had. I’d just finished the final semester of my bachelor’s degree in software engineering when I was told about the internship opportunity at Akvo. Following one face to face meeting and a skype call, the offer was made and I was thrilled to join the Akvo Flow development team.
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Five tips for effective data storytelling

by Marten Schoonman

data storytelling

Above: An illustration with the icons from Akvo Lumen by Marten Schoonman.

In the drive to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), high quality data is needed to increase accountability, effectiveness and efficiency. But turning data into meaningful messages can be a challenge. Where do you start? Which visualisations do you choose? How do you turn your data into a compelling story? Follow these five steps and translate your insights into stories that matter.
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Spice up your salad: Akvo joins new Geodata for Agriculture and Water (G4AW) projects

by Charlotte Soedjak

geodata for farmers

Above: White pepper, during the SpiceUp kick-off meeting. Photo by Aulia Rahman. Denpasar, Indonesia. 8 May 2018.

Earlier this year, the Netherlands Space Office (NSO) announced six new projects in the third call for the Geodata for Agriculture and Water (G4AW) Facility. Using satellite and mobile data, G4AW provides information to smallholder farmers to increase sustainable food production and achieve more effective use of inputs.

Akvo is already part of two G4AW projects, GreenCoffee in Vietnam and SmartSeeds in Indonesia, and has now joined SpiceUp in Indonesia and Angkor Salad in Cambodia. Both projects kicked off in May 2018. 

Akvo’s role is to help capture and understand high quality data, assist the provision of fertiliser advice using Akvo Caddisfly, support with the integration of systems for one shared data platform, and help the partners in the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of the project. By translating data into relevant and timely advice for farmers, they’re able to increase and improve their food production in a sustainable way. 
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Akvo West Africa Team Week 2018

by Wendemi Ilboudo

Photo de famille du staff de Akvo au bord du fleuve Niger. Photo prise par Bintou Koné.

Bamako (Mali), 02 avril 2018 à 10h:05mn, l’équipe du Hub de Ouagadougou (Burkina) atterrissait á l’aéroport international Modibo Keita de Bamako pour la troisième édition du Team Week de Akvo en Afrique de l’Ouest. J’étais enthousiaste mais je me demandais au même moment comment allait se passer cette rencontre car nous sommes maintenant deux Hubs séparés qui interviennent dans la même région Ouest-Africaine.Vraiment particulier ce Team Week, nous avons eu droit à une journée de prise de contact, deux journées d’échanges sur l’avenir des 2 hubs car travailler ensemble pour un avenir radieux de Akvo dans la sous-région est capital. Une quatrième journée a été consacrée à l’écriture de projets. Caroline Figuères, consultante chez Akvo, venue des Pays-Bas était chargée de faciliter nos journées et de nous dispenser la formation sur la rédaction de projets. Read More »

The evolution of Akvo

by Thomas Bjelkeman-Pettersson

Above: The evolution of Akvo. Photo by Thomas Bjelkeman-Pettersson.

This year, Akvo will turn ten. Looking back, we started with an idea and seven people. Now, we are over a hundred, having worked with over 200 organisations and 20 governments. Working together, we have helped these organisations and governments capture and understand reliable data which they can act upon; data that’s being used to improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people.
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Marketing Akvo Part 2 – Rethinking the way we present ourselves

by Alvaro de Salvo

Above: Adjusting the sails of the Malbec, my first sailing boat. Photo by Alvaro de Salvo.

You can’t change the direction of the wind, but you can always adjust your sails to reach the port you want. And that is exactly what we’ve been doing at Akvo over the last year.

For some time, many of us at Akvo have felt that the way we talk about ourselves wasn’t reflecting the reality, depth or scope of the work we’ve been doing around the world. Since 2015, we’ve been growing at a fast pace in a very challenging sector, and in regions that demand fast and sustainable solutions to some of the world’s most urgent problems.

During this time, Akvo’s marketing has always been profoundly influenced (and constrained) by the fast-moving nature of our work. Our business is at the crossroads of technology and people, our presence is spread across five continents, and our partners address a wide number of issues using 
our approach.
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Creating Akvo’s Theory of Change

by Anita van der Laan

Akvo theory of change

Above: When in doubt, zoom out. Photo by Anita van der Laan.

This time, change happened from the bottom up: three young Akvonauts – Annabelle, Christien and Geert – went to a planning, monitoring and evaluation (PME) course and came back with the realisation that something needed to change. The course made it clear to them that Akvo monitored key performance indicators at output level [1], but not for outcomes [2] nor for the impact [3] we want to contribute to. As a consequence, we were unable to demonstrate how we support our partners in becoming more effective, accountable and collaborative so that they can achieve lasting and inclusive impact.
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Per user rate limiting with OpenID connect and Istio in Kubernetes

by Daniel Lebrero

server queue

Above: The Queues by Mark Walley on Flickr.

To make sure that each of our partners is able to use Akvo’s API, we need to ensure that nobody is able to abuse it. We want to ensure that each partner has access to a fair share of the servers’ resources.

In the case of HTTP APIs, this usually means limiting the rate at which partners can make requests. A system that performs rate limiting needs to:

  1. Identify who is making the HTTP request.
  2. Count how many requests each user has made.
  3. Reject any user request once that user has depleted their allotment.

There are plenty of open source products and libraries out there that you can choose from, but we decided to give Istio a try.
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L’histoire interactive des installations d’approvisionnement en eau au Mali

by Wendemi Ilboudo

WASH in Mali

Ci-dessus: L’enquêteur Halidou Kamaté dresse l’inventaire d’un point d’eau dans le cercle de Bla, région de Ségou au Mali. Photo prise par Birama Sangaré.
Grâce au lancement en ligne du site de l’atlas des points d’eau du Mali, toute personne ayant accès à Internet peut désormais savoir l’état des installations d’approvisionnement en eau au Mali. Pour la première fois, les populations peuvent interagir avec les installations d’eau du pays et, y compris faire des recherches sur des informations détaillées relatives à l’emplacement, à la situation et à la population locale. Avec des données collectées entre 2016 et 2018 lors de l’inventaire national des points d’eau du Mali, le portail de l’eau combine différentes sources de données en des indicateurs compréhensifs. Cela permet aux internautes de filtrer les tableaux pertinents, de faire ressortir des graphiques en temps réel et de parcourir des cartes interactives. La mise à disposition de ce portail de l’eau marque une étape cruciale vers un suivi efficace des installations d’eau au Mali. Ce portail fournit au ministère et au public des informations utiles pour la prise de décision concernant les infrastructures durables de l’eau. Dans ce blog, nous décrivons les différentes étapes nécessaires pour passer des données brutes à un partage d’information perspicace. 
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The interactive story of water supply facilities in Mali

by Lars Heemskerk

WASH in Mali

Above: Data collector Halidou Kamaté makes an inventory of a water points in the Bla Cercle of the Segou Region, Mali. Photo by Birama Sangaré.

With the launch of Mali’s online water atlas, anyone with Internet access can now find out the status of water supply facilities in Mali. For the first time, people can interact with and investigate water facilities in the country, including detailed background information on location, status and the local population. Featuring data collected between 2016 and 2018 by the Malian national inventory of water point data, the water portal combines different data sources into comprehensible indicators. This allows visitors to filter relevant tables, render real-time graphs and browse interactive maps. This water portal is a crucial step towards effective monitoring of water facilities in Mali, and provides the ministry and the public with useful insights for decision making on sustainable water infrastructure. In this blog, we describe the various steps required to go from raw data to insightful information sharing. 

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