The entrance hall in the Akvo office at the AmLab is getting quite a lot of use lately. We recently used it for our Akvo Track Day and the all Akvo team meetup.

Last week, on 14 and 15 June we used it again for the Connect4Change (C4C) learning days, during which all of the programme managers of the consortium (IICD, Cordaid, ICCO, Edukans, TTC and Akvo) came together to share experiences and learn from each other to improve the programme. We hosted guests from around the world, including regional managers of ICCO who came over from their regional offices in Bolivia, Mali and Uganda.

We kicked off with four inspiring success stories and a discussion on what elements came together to make them happen:

  • Paula Mommers from Cordaid presented an ACDEP Ghana case in which computers are being used for distance medical consultation. The doctor can take a photo and send it via the Internet to another doctor who can then help with the consultation. In this case, the critical success factors were easy access to computers and the Internet.
  • Helmke Hofman from Edukans presented a case from Bolivia, where they successfully created indigenous learning materials to use on computers. This is important for getting indigenous children involved with learning via computers, as well as educating them on their culture.
  • Victor van der Linden from ICCO presented a value chain success story of shea butter in Mali, which is a great example of women working together in cooperation. Through this initiative, the women are able to earn more money that they can invest back into other parts of their local economy, or improve their mobility by buying a bicycle, for example.
  • I presented a success story on how Akvo works with RED TIC Bolivia, an ICT network organisation in Bolivia. RED TIC is supporting the C4C partners in Bolivia to work with the Akvo platform. In this case, the network installed a partners site and is using the updates in newsletters to share the content that comes straight from the partners on their projects with other organisations.

I also presented Akvo’s activity in C4C. Below you can see some of the numbers of what has been reached so far.

Not all Connect4Change programme and project managers were aware of all the updates posted on their projects. So installing an RSS feed seems a good tool to be used by project officers and country coordinators to keep track of news coming in on their projects.

To get to know each other, we participated in an ice-breaker called “The Marshmallow Challenge,” in which the groups needed to make a tower with spaghetti as high as possible and it need to be able to hold a Marshmallow on top of the spaghetti structure.

Charlotte and Lissy helped me to create some nice video interviews to capture some of the learnings we exchanged during these two days. Here you can view the playlist to see what everyone learned.

We ended with a lively and interesting discussion on gender. What I learned was about the difference between gender equality versus gender equity. Meaning, gender is often an important topic in programmes but it is a subject that does not stand alone and it is heavily influenced by the local context. Therefore, it needs to be integrated in existing programmes. Connect4Change covers three themes: education, health and economic development. Within the programmes, the focus is on women and girls, which makes gender an important topic to discuss and to learn about.

Kathelyne van den Berg is Akvo’s Connect4Change programme manager.

Photo courtesy of Niels Jansen.