• Written by Kathelyne van den Berg
    12 May 2011

This week in Kenya we are mainly focusing on our WASH Alliance partners here. We joined in a field mission to Kajiado District, which is the area in Kenya where all the activities of the WASH Alliance will take place in the coming 5 years. We also joined in the 2-day workshop at the AMREF Kenya office in Nairobi, where we discussed in more detail topics such as WASH alliance building in the South and how to move forward on the formulation of the Baseline surveys. We also had lot’s of meetings with partners in Nairobi. All-in-all another busy week!

Field visit Kajiado Sanitation facilities at the Borehole by Kathelyne van den Berg

The week started on Sunday the 8th of May in the Kibera slums in Nairobi. Here Camilla from PeePoople took us on a tour through the slums, to show what they’ve been doing so far there. The PeePoople concept is an innovative solution to tackle sanitation issues in this environment, specifically the problem of ‘flying toilets’. We literally walked through the shit there! Biodegradable PeePoo bags provide a much better alternative that can then be used as compost. In Kibera you have a group of salespeople who sell the bags and a group of collectors. Luuk shot a video with Ann, a saleswoman of PeePoople, who is nicknamed ‘Mamma Poo’ by the slum dwellers.

On Tuesday the 10th we joined our partners in the Dutch and Kenyan WASH Alliance for a joint mission to Kajiado, a 2 hour drive South from Nairobi. During the mission we got the chance to also visit project sites. Two of these projects, supported by AMREF, are already online on Akvo: project 62 and project 171. We managed to also do some extra testing of our new SMS and video update features on site. Here you can see the Akvo RSR video update with Philip Mukuru, who is Director of the AMREF Kajiado office, which we did on site.

The field day was a long day which involved a terrible traffic jam into Nairobi but as Rachel Kyozira from the Regional ICCO office in Kampala keeps reminding us, “You might have the Watch, We have the Time.” I guess this is true, well at least this day.

It was really great to get a chance to also meet local partners that are new to us. One of those is the SASOL Foundation. They are a partner of the RAIN Foundation, and have lots of experience with the construction of sand dams. Here’s a video interview with Mutinda Munguti. He is C.E.O. of SASOL, and here he explains in more detail what sand dams are.

The other local partners of the Kenyan Wash Alliance that have been participating in the workshops and the field mission are: KEWASNET, NETWAS, Practical Action, ICRAF, and AMREF Kenya. The organisations representing the Dutch WASH Alliance here this week are: ICCO (who is also representing WASTE), AMREF Netherlands, RAIN Foundation, SIMAVI, and of course Akvo. This day is used to identify the gaps and overlaps from each organisation which is important if you want to work together in the most efficient way. Today the Kenyan Wash partners took a big step in further developing the Kenyan Wash Alliance programme.

Testing FLOW, SMS and Video Update Features

In the past two weeks we’ve been testing the FLOW app in the field. Tomorrow during the baseline study workshop we will be able to present the results of this testing and explain in more detail how our partners might use this amazing mobile monitoring tool. We’ve already had some really positive feedback from local partners on FLOW. After explaining FLOW to the LEC Kenya, the Kenyan coordinator Sitati Makhandi said: “This is amazing! Using this tool will provide us with so much extra time to do other work. This tool can really make our work more efficient and at the same time improve our transparency. Data will always be up to date.”

In Uganda and Kenya, the testing of SMS and Video updates went really well. In Uganda we used local GSM numbers with local provider MTN. In Kenya we bought a ZAIN and a Safaricom SIMcard to test these two different providers. This turned out to be a good move. Safaricom did not function as it should have, at least according to our expectations. The SMS updates came through, but no confirmation SMS could be received. This issue has something to do with the SIMcard settings, and to resolve it we would need to contact Safaricom.


Talking to Sam Gichuru from the Nailab in Nairobi we found out that Safaricom does have problems with foreign number settings. The Nailab is an amazing place. It’s an incubation lab that supports Kenyan startups, and is financially supported by our strategic partner the 1%Club. It’s the ideal location where we can setup our planned regional hub for East Africa by the end of this year.

For an impression of this week in pictures you can see Kathelyne’s and Luuk’s Flickr Photo’s.

The last two weeks in Uganda and Kenya have been fully packed. This visit has proven to be of immense value for us. Not only have we been able to test new Akvo features in the field, engaging with local partners who understand and want to use our tools is really motivational. It reminds us why we do what we do!

Luuk Diphoorn and Kathelyne van den Berg are project officers at Akvo.

"Kathelyne van der Berg is Akvo's Chief Financial Officer and has been a co-director of the organisation since 2014. You can follow her on Twitter @Kathelyne