29713247905_01af393c3a_oThe year 2016 has been very eventful for Akvo in terms of product development. We formally announced two new products, Akvo Caddisfly and Akvo Lumen, along with significant feature upgrades to both Akvo Flow and Akvo RSR. Track Days enable us to share these exciting developments with existing and new partners, while learning about the impact of our current tools in our partners’ work.

Keeping the momentum of our last Track Day in New Delhi in July 2016, we organised the Nepal edition on 14th September in Kathmandu.

Track Day Nepal witnessed development sector professionals, open data activists and independent researchers openly sharing their experiences of using Akvo Flow and Akvo RSR in their programmes. There was plenty of discussion about adoption of open data principles and standards, and the opportunities and challenges of the development sector in Nepal.
Above: Audience represented by NGOs, researchers and open data activists at the Akvo Track day. Below: Jigmy Palzor Lama from Akvo Foundation kick starts the event on a lively note. Photo by Karmath Subedi.
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Most Effective way of storytelling
In his presentation, Karmath Subedi, PME (planning, monitoring and evaluation) officer at WASH Alliance in Nepal, explained that the 10-partner Alliance was one of Akvo’s earliest partners in the country. Coincidentally, Nepal was also one of the first countries within the larger WASH Alliance to use Akvo Flow as a data collection tool. Flow and RSR have been extensively used by Nepal WASH Alliance for conducting baseline studies and outcome monitoring. Karmath felt that the combination of quantitative data, storytelling, and the enthusiasm of Nepalese partners made the partnership very fruitful. 

Understanding ground realties from the desk
Summarising the cooperation between Akvo and ICCO, Saugat Gautam, knowledge management officer at ICCO Cooperation, explained that a combination of Akvo Flow and RSR helped ICCO’s entire PME cycle, and also served as a robust system for knowledge and information management. This was especially true immediately after the earthquake when Akvo’s products proved invaluable: enabling rapid data collection about the status of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities; assessing market and hospital situations; conducting needs assessments of affected people; and mapping the relief administration and their support efforts on the ground. 

Efficient and prompt availability of support
Rural Reconstruction Nepal (RRN) has had an association with Akvo since 2014 through its Welthungerhilfe-supported project. Ratna Karki, team leader of the CILRREN project at RRN, recounted his experience of using Flow for rapid monitoring and collection of verifiable data, and praised the prompt technical support and training from Akvo. In 2016, RRN extended its use of Akvo products for monitoring its livelihood and rehabilitation project under a community initiative approach.  In this programme, Flow and RSR will facilitate quantitative and qualitative data collection from the field, and help maintain a real time and easy information system. Ratna Karki’s presentation can be viewed here.

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Above: Saugat Gautam from ICCO Cooperation talks about his experience of working with Akvo. Photo by Jigmy Lama.
You’re going to have to engage with it, whether you like it or not
The Track Day also focused on the future of development data, and its contribution to the nascent open data movement in Nepal.

Nikesh Balami, coordinator of Open Knowledge Nepal, in his presentation explained the concepts of open knowledge and open source tools, and gave an account of the open data scene in Nepal. Tanka Aryal spoke about the need to move from paper-based and manual data management towards a digital approach. The concept and use of open data was also explored by Pavitra Rana from Open Nepal.

What’s new at Akvo?
Towards the close, Isha Parihar of Akvo presented new product features like geo-shapes and monitoring in Flow, and impact measurement and results frameworks in RSR. She also demonstrated Caddisfly – Akvo’s smartphone-based water quality field testing kit, and Lumen – our new data analysis & visualisation platform. Finally, we also spoke about our growing expertise on planning, monitoring, evaluation and learning (PMEL), and our focus on programmatic partnerships.

At the end of the day, the gathering moved into informal conversations over some delicious Nepalese food.

Isha Parihar is programme officer at Akvo, based in Delhi. You can follow her on Twitter @ishaparihar.
 
Jigmy Lama is programme officer at Akvo, based in Kathmandu. You can follow him on Twitter @jigmylama.