I thought it would be timely to give everyone an overview of the range of programmes Akvo is supporting around the world, and which tools they’re using right now. Dutch WASH Alliance

This five year Dutch development aid programme is valued at around 50 million Euro, and focuses on improving water, sanitation and hygiene in eight countries – Bangladesh, Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Nepal and Uganda. Partners include Simavi, AMREF, ICCO, RAIN and WASTE. The goal is to provide 2 million people with improved water and sanitation facilities.

The WASH Alliance has taken a distinctive approach to ensuring its interventions are sustainable – launching the FIETS sustainability model, which has since been adopted into policy in the Netherlands – and included in other programmes such as Football for Water. Akvo has worked with around 100 field partner organisations to collect project information and we’ve supported these partners to simplify reporting from the field with Akvo RSR. In 2012 we delivered four workshops in four countries, and introduced Akvo FLOW through pilots in Nepal, Bangladesh and Kenya. We further developed our support materials and set up local support structures, including our East Africa hub. This year is the halfway point of the five year timeline. There will be a mid-term evaluation meeting in Bangladesh this summer. Akvo has worked with the consortium to roll out a website, in two phases. The latest version came online at the end of 2012. This year will see further rollout of Akvo FLOW, workshops in the remaining countries, introduction of the Openaid open data strategy and general support now the consortium is really powering forward with all its tools in place. As a result of the experience consortium partners gained while using RSR, Akvo has also signed contracts to roll out Akvo RSR and FLOW with ICCO, RAIN, AMREF and Simavi, covering projects beyond this programme. AMREF and Simavi have also introduced us to the SRHR Consortium, focused on sexual and reproductive health and rights, which we’re expecting to support in 2013. We’re also helping the alliance with communications strategy and implementation.

www.washalliance.nl Connect4Change

This programme started at the beginning of 2011 and it runs for five years, so this summer will be the half way point. Partners include Cordaid, Edukans, ICCO, IICD and Text to Change. It’s a Dutch development aid programme valued at just under €50 million, focused on health, education and economic development, and mobilising “ICT” technologies to address these areas, with some very interesting programmes focused on specific groups, such as empowering women and supporting farmers.

Led by IICD, Connect4Change is active in 11 countries in Africa and South America – Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Mali, Malawi, Peru, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Akvo has worked with the field partners to collect project information and we’ve helped the partners post status updates from the field using Akvo RSR. In 2012 we delivered training workshops in four countries – Burkina Faso, Mali, Zambia and Ghana, plus field support in Kenya. We introduced Akvo FLOW in 2012 in Uganda, alongside Cordaid, and have also started working with ICCO in one of its programmes in Kenya. We’ve developed support materials including training kits, mobilising our East Africa hub and established additional support networks, for example with RedTicBolivia in South America. We’re in the process of deploying a new website for the consortium and developed a lot of multi-lingual materials into French and Spanish. Another interesting result of the consortium has been that Cordaid’s experience has led them to use Akvo RSR as the engine behind its new online presence – it will be bringing its entire project portfolio online over the coming year. This is a testament to the foresight in place when Connect4Change was first conceived in 2010. 2013 will see us deliver training in Peru, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda, and we’re exploring further rollout of Akvo FLOW, workshops in the remaining countries, the introduction of an Openaid open data strategy and general support now the consortium has really built up steam.

www.connect4change.nl Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs

We have a programme in place with DGIS, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that covers a number of activities. We’ve continued our strategic cooperation to increase transparency and build support amongst the Dutch general public. We’ve also intensified our cooperation with national governments such as the US and UK, with multi-lateral organisations such as UN Habitat and UNDP, and with corporate partners such as Mars, EarthWater and Cisco. DGIS has financially contributed to the development of Akvo FLOW, alongside investments by Hilton Foundation and Cisco Inc, and we’ve come to an agreement to help bring the new Public Private Partnerships (PPP) “sustainable water fund” projects in water online using Akvo RSR with DME (the water division of DGIS). With DEC (the transparency unit of DGIS) we’ve set up Openaid.nl, which displays all Dutch development aid spend around the world through a user-friendly, open-standards compliant interface, building upon the Dutch government’s open data commitments, including signing up to the IATI data standard.

www.openaid.nl Water For People

In 2012, Akvo signed a partnership with Water For People to assume responsibility for the further development and rollout of FLOW. Together we have organised a series of investment rounds that resulted in contributions from Water For People, Hilton Foundation and Cisco Inc (along with the Dutch foreign ministry and Akvo itself), to support the further development of Akvo FLOW. These will help us scale and support many of the other programmes listed here. This spring we are revisiting each of these partners to explore future collaboration opportunities building on what has been achieved to date.

Further reading: Akvo and Water For People sign FLOW agreement (Thomas Bjelkeman-Pettersson, 6 March 2012)

Football for Water

An interesting new area for us in 2012 has been the growing interest in combining international development and sport. Football for Water is a four year programme totalling €27 million in three countries – Ghana, Mozambique and Kenya – to provide drinking water and sanitation facilities and hygiene education in 200 schools. Akvo’s first role has been to help bring all the projects online using Akvo RSR. In 2012, we delivered one workshop in Nairobi, Kenya, and later a workshop on Akvo FLOW in Kisumu. The partners are an interesting mix – combining conventional NGOs such as UNICEF, Simavi, Vitens Evides and Aqua for All alongside the Royal Dutch Soccer Union (KNVB). Right now we’re working on a new website for the consortium and will be doing training this spring in Ghana and later this year in Mozambique. We’re also helping and advising on communications strategy and implementation. There are several spin-off programmes emerging from this. This includes Sport for Development, a further €4m programme in eight countries, again with KNVB, along with Right to Play.

Further reading: Monitoring Football for WASH (Frodo van Oostveen, 12 November 2012)

Unicef / Liberian government

Together with DGIS, UNICEF, IRC, WSP (World Bank) and WSA (Water and Sanitation for Africa), we’re helping look at further ways to roll-out Akvo FLOW in West Africa – there are several significant programmes being designed in which Akvo would play a key role. This includes plans to do national monitoring water point mapping exercises in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Benin and Ghana. Akvo has already been working with the Liberian government, to follow up on the initial monitoring exercise that was done to map 10,000 water points in the country using FLOW in 2010. In early 2013, we introduced the new version of Akvo FLOW 1.5 to key governmental representatives and international NGOs involved in the extension of this country-level initiative.

Aqua for All

We’ve been working in a strategic partnership with Aqua for All since almost the beginning of Akvo. This Dutch organisation works as a support partner to numerous programmes, encouraging and investing in new networks and initiatives. Aqua for All has brought more than 120 projects online using Akvo RSR, and this year Aqua for All will act as a support partner to numerous other organisations who use Akvo RSR, to improve the quality of execution in these programmes. Aqua for All is helping us deploy “baseline monitoring” using Akvo FLOW in other consortia programmes, such as Football for Water. They also contribute match funding and leveraging funding where appropriate to help successful projects move forward into new phases. Akvo is supporting two arms of Aqua for All’s Walking for Water annual fundraising and awareness-raising campaign focused on engaging school children at a local level, alongside partners such as local water utilities. All projects that are being supported through this campaign are coming online using Akvo RSR, with donations being documented or donated via the RSR. Akvo is also involved with the international expansion of this initiative. This year upwards of 80 schools outside of the Netherlands will participate, as far afield as India and Ireland.

www.wandelenvoorwater.nl www.walkingforwater.eu WASH United

This German sports initiative is setting up sport and WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) development awareness and education programmes in Kenya, Uganda and Lesotho. In 2012, we organised a demonstration and training around how they can use Akvo FLOW to simplify the monitoring of this programme. We have an agreement in place to help them introduce Akvo RSR and FLOW in their work in 2013.

UN-HABITAT

Akvo has been working with UN-Habitat to introduce an open data portal – Open UN-Habitat, built upon our Akvo Openaid software platform with the support of our development partner Zimmerman & Zimmerman. This follows UN-Habitat signing up to the IATI open data standard. We also have a project in place with their water team to bring projects online related to the Lake Victoria initiative. Our Kenyan team has worked to help collect project data and run a workshop to introduce Akvo’s Really Simple Reporting concept to staff in East Africa. Recently, we demonstrated the potential of Akvo FLOW as a mobile monitoring tool and we’re finalising talks to scale our cooperation, introducing these new concepts in the second phase of the Lake Victoria initiative.

https://open.unhabitat.org https://un-habitat.akvoapp.org/en/

Further reading: The road to Open UN-Habitat (Peter van der Linde, 5 September 2012)

Netherlands Water Partnership

Akvo is still a member of the Netherlands Water Partnership, where we were incubated and supported in our early years. We’ve actively worked with IRC, Aqua for All and NWP in developing a joint US strategy. This has resulted in several joint efforts and potential programmes that will involve both US and Dutch NGOs in the water sector. One programme approved and started is a large-scale Millennium Water Alliance programme in Kenya. We’ve also delivered a workshop for Millennium Water Alliance members in Honduras, training their teams in the use of Akvo FLOW. We also partner with NWP at key events related to water and sanitation, including for the past two years a reception at the Dutch Embassy in Stockholm, which regularly attracts the most interesting people attending Stockholm World Water Week.

Mars Chocolates

Our partner Rabobank introduced us to Mars Chocolates, in the United States, around a year ago. Mars has begun a pioneering sustainable cocoa initiative, to ensure all its cocoa comes from sustainable sources by 2020. In 2012 it used Akvo RSR in a pilot programme to support farmers in Ivory Coast, in an innovative associate engagement exercise designed to provide micro-finance to help farmers increase their yield. In early 2013 we will help Mars launch a new website that will enable story telling from farmers in Ivory Coast to Mars associates around the world. We’re also enabling an Akvo FLOW dashboard that will facilitate data collection by Mars staff and local farming associations in Indonesia.

Further reading: Supporting Cocoa Sustainability, with Mars (Peter van der Linde, 24 September 2012)

UNDP

This is a 2 year programme, which we’re now half way through. We’re supporting UNDP’s Bratislava based team who lead the organisation’s development projects in central and eastern Europe. This is an interesting programme for us – it is the first substantial implementation of Akvo RSR in a large UN organisation, and it’s a fascinating geographic area. The project region has many problems to solve, which get overlooked by the public, who tend to associate development only with Africa, Asia or Latin America. We’ve just visited Bratislava to run through progress and discuss next steps. UNDP has incorporated our tools and working methods with enthusiasm. They have also developed their own training courses, from which we hope to learn and improve our own work. In 2013, we’ll be visiting several of their local field partners to understand and profile more of their work on the ground. It’s been great having a large UN organisation demonstrate a willingness to innovate and try out our tools and collaborate with us to get the best out of them.

https://undp.akvoapp.org/en/ Cordaid

Cordaid is one of the largest Dutch NGOs, currently in the middle of a reorganisation process in response to changes in the way that development aid is allocated. As part of this reorganisation, it has decided to become much more open and transparent, showing insight into its entire aid portfolio, which covers more than 500 projects around the world. Built on the experience that its health department gained using Akvo RSR in Connect4Change, it decided to deploy Akvo RSR across the organisation, using the system as the underlying content management tool that feeds its new website, which is designed to improve communications both internally and externally. Cordaid is the first major Akvo RSR partner to implement the API interface in RSR. It’s active in 35 countries. In 2013, Akvo is developing a plan to support all Cordaid’s partners across the globe, to help them use Akvo RSR. This includes the distribution of “do it yourself” reporting packages, as well as providing at least 10 workshops internationally during 2013.

www.cordaid.org/en/ Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Last year we were successful in applying for a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, together with our AmLab neighbours 1%CLUB and Text to Change. The programme is led by 1%CLUB and the goal is to show the world that “aid is working – let’s ask the crowd”. This grant enables us to implement Akvo’s tools and services alongside those of 1%CLUB and Text to Change for the first time, in a focused geographic area, under an intense spotlight. We’re now actively participating in workshops hosted by the Gates Foundation designed to galvanise and motivate new initiatives. In 2013, we will trial our tools together in Kenya and Uganda, and develop a new set of concepts about how they can be scaled, presenting mid-year to the foundation with a view to extending and scaling the programme.

Further reading: New AmLab project supported by Gates (Peter van der Linde, 1 November 2012)

IRC

In 2012, Akvo signed a strategic cooperation agreement to intensify our work together. Since then we have worked actively in the promotion of innovative ways of monitoring. We’ve worked together on a large proposal to further develop Akvo FLOW and roll it out at a country-scale in Ghana. We’ve actively worked with IRC to open up financial information that came out of their Triple-S programme and we expect to launch a new finance portal in Akvopedia in March. We expect to intensify our cooperation with a specific focus on Western Africa and will be collaborating on a new video reporting venture together during UN World Water Day events in March 2013.

Further reading: Working with IRC (Peter van der Linde, 13 March 2012)

Peter van der Linde is the partner director at Akvo. Drafted in conjunction with Mark Charmer.