In July last year I joined Akvo’s East Africa team in Nairobi as a partnerships assistant. One of my main tasks is to introduce Akvo RSR to local field partners by providing training in East Africa. Akvo RSR is a useful tool for empowering aid workers to tell the story of their day-to-day work in the field and in opening up the development sector and increasing transparency.

Training courses
Organising any sort of training in East Africa is a challenge, but one that I am used to and that I definitely do enjoy. It means, above all, having to be flexible – just go with the flow – and making good use of your creative side. The main worries before a training workshop usually concern electricity. Will there will be a constant flow of power throughout the course and are there enough sockets in the room to connect everyone’s laptops? This latter problem is usually solved with a fully utilised extension cord connected to another fully utilised extension cord and that one connected to yet another fully utilised extension cord and so on. Another problem is often the internet connection at the training venue. To be on the safe side, participants are asked to carry their own modem as a backup. However, this doesn’t always happen meaning by the time that all IT problems are fixed and every participant is online, the workshop is usually delayed. Like I said, I just go with the flow and usually things turn out fine.

My first RSR workshop
The first RSR training course I took part in happened in July in Nairobi and involved the partners of the Millennium Water Alliance Kenya Program (MWA-KP), as well as the whole Akvo East Africa team. Funded by USAID, MWA-KP seeks to provide safe water, better sanitation and hygiene education in rural areas in Kenya impacted by drought and climate change – namely Garissa, Isiolo, Marsabit, Turkana, and Wajir. It’s part of the overall MWA, a global partnership of leading WASH-focused relief and development organisations. 
july participants

17 people took part from MWA Kenya, CARE Kenya, CRS Kenya, FH Kenya, and World Vision Kenya. Apart from a somewhat unreliable internet connection, the training was very successful and the participants responded enthusiastically. Since the course, they have to date posted 37 project updates and a number have now also started training their colleagues about how to use RSR.

interview

Top: participants on the RSR training course for Millennium Water Alliance Kenya partners in Nairobi in June. Photos by Luuk Diphoorn.
Above: Doris Kaberia from MWA Kenya practising the ‘really simple video’ interview technique with Abdinoor Omar from Care Kenya. Photo by Elma den Toom

Training in Kampala
In August my colleague Luuk Diphoorn and I ran an RSR workshop in Kampala – my second RSR training course experience. So far this has been the largest RSR workshop to have taken place in the region, with 32 participants attending from partner organisations in both the Dutch WASH Alliance Uganda and the Connect4Change Consortium.  

aug participants

Above: the RSR training course for Dutch WASH Alliance and Connect4Change partners that took place in Kampala in August was the largest to date in the region. Photos by Luuk Diphoorn.
Below: the workshop in progress. Photo by Elma den Toom.

The Dutch WASH Alliance Uganda  is a consortium of six Dutch NGO’s implementing WASH projects through local partners in Northern Uganda and Rwenzori. The overall aim of the Alliance is to empower local marginalised populations by building and strengthening an enabling environment for sustainable WASH solutions. The Connect4Change Consortium is a Dutch government-funded programme that aims to use technology to achieve development goals. In Uganda, the focus of the consortium is mainly on strengthening the capacities of local partner organisations in the sectors of education and health. 

KampalaSince the training, the RSR participants from the Dutch WASH Alliance have uploaded 40 project updates, and the Connect4Change partners have posted 50. This has also been due to the support of the organisation I-Network which is working closely with Akvo as the immediate support contact in the region for all Connect4Change partners.  

Elma den Toom is partnership assistant at Akvo’s East Africa hub.