Reflecting, learning and connecting in 2019

by Jana Gombitova

Above: Erasmus bridge in Rotterdam. Photo by Jana Gombitova.

Two forces drive how we, the team behind Akvo Flow, Akvo Lumen and Akvo Caddisfly, develop our software every year: the change we want to contribute to and constant learning. We keep the end goal – our partners achieving lasting and inclusive impact – firmly in sight, while continuously seeking feedback from our partners.
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Improving the quality of data for malaria research

by Mark Tiele Westra

Above: Incidence of Malaria per 1000 population at risk. Source:

In 2017, Akvo received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to look at creating a user-focused malaria data integration and visualisation system, which we wrote about here. We applied action research during two existing malaria data collection efforts, together with Australia-based Menzies (School of Health Research), and the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) in Antwerp, Belgium. Both organisations work together on projects with the support of the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network, APMEN. To eradicate malaria, researchers need to gather a lot of data on what drugs work best, and if people actually take the drugs they are described. We’ve been working to improve the quality of data to ensure that important decisions are made based on the best available data.

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Global marketing means getting out of the building

by Alvaro de Salvo

It’s 20:30 at night, yet my stomach feels like having breakfast. After a 17 hour plane journey, which started in Amsterdam and paused in Singapore, I finally arrive at Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpasar, Indonesia. The 30 degree heat wave greets me like Rocky Balboa would greet Apollo Creed on the first. I quickly realise that I’ve perhaps packed one pair of jeans too many. I’ve been to Indonesia once before, on holiday, but this time is different. I have a promising work week ahead, one with ambitious prospects. I set out to connect with Akvo’s South East Asia and Pacific regional hub colleagues and align global and regional marketing efforts, experiment with a new way of telling stories visually, and test drive a new monitoring tool to evaluate the impact of our work. Read More »

Notes from Amsterdam’s first OKR forum

by Alvaro de Salvo

If you deliver all your tasks, and nothing improves, are you successful?

This question was dropped by Felipe Castro at the first Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) forum in Amsterdam, an event that brought together OKR experts and enthusiasts from around the globe.

Great questions bring interesting answers, and this one had me thinking for the rest of the day. Later on, Jan Paul van Vliet helped me connect the dots when he argued that being engaged at work was not the same as being productive.
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Steep learning curves and a stellar team: Reflections on my internship at Akvo

by Bob Moses Mogere

Above: Mulo and Moses working on Akvo Flow in Kampala, Uganda. 

One night, reading through my emails, I came across one from the Akvo Foundation. I’d been accepted into the internship programme! 

I can’t describe the joy I felt in finding out that I’d be part of a team building open source data tools to improve international development programmes. At the same time, I was daunted by the challenges that come with building tools that are used internationally and in complex settings.
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The end of the year revolves around switching perspectives

by Alvaro de Salvo

Above: Revolving door by Marcel Oosterwijk on Flickr.

Knowing what you know now and if you were to join the team today, what would you choose to work on?

This is the question I recently asked my colleagues in the Marcomms team. But I wasn’t really looking for an answer. I was giving them a heads up on what’s to come: the first version of the Marcomms Revolving Door Week. In the third week of November 2018, we will focus on (and ship) the thing that we care deeply about, but was overruled by other priorities. Read More »

Lumen celebrates its first year

by Jana Gombitova

Above: Celebrating Lumen’s first birthday with cake. Photo by Jana Gombitova.

This year’s World Water Week in Stockholm marked a very special occasion in Akvo history. One year ago, we launched 
Akvo Lumen! And what a ride it has been. We’ve learned a lot about data in the development sector, introduced improvements and functionalities to further simplify how you go from data to decision, and most importantly, together with you, used the power of data to strengthen your impact.

This calls for a celebration!

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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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