• Written by Jo Pratt
    1 June 2015

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Akvo and DGIS

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS) works with Akvo globally to increase the communication, visibility and transparency of the development projects it funds. The aim is to build Dutch and international public support for Dutch global aid spend and to enhance transparency, accountability and collaboration between different project partners within its own portfolio, and more broadly across the entire development sector. 

In May 2015, the Netherlands Embassy in Kenya became the first Dutch embassy to bring its full portfolio of development cooperation projects online.  

“Our goal is to be transparent about how the Dutch government invests and partners in Kenya,” said Mariëlle Geraedts, Head of Development Cooperation at the Netherlands Embassy in Kenya. “Anyone, from our own teams and partners, Kenyan citizens, Dutch government officials, Dutch tax payers and the international development community can see the range of work we do here in Kenya, and explore it in more depth.”

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The Dutch Embassy in Kenya

The Netherlands Embassy in Kenya has a broad portfolio of aid and cooperation projects underway. As of 20 May 2015, more than €100 million of programmes were online on Akvo RSR involving 75 local organisations including NGOs, multilateral organisations, local government and the private sector. Areas covered are diverse and encompass social justice, wildlife and environmental conservation, business and enterprise, agriculture, sports and culture and the Arts, among others. 

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Each project has its own web page on Akvo RSR giving detailed information about its aims, cost, location, impact and progress. People from each of the local partner organisations involved in implementing projects attended a training workshop to learn how to use Akvo RSR to keep people informed about their work. Since the workshops, people have been posting regular updates with photos and videos about activities and progress in their own projects. This helps them coordinate their activities with colleagues and partners, and learn from each other and other similar projects in order to make better decisions.

Publishing via the IATI standard
A major aspect of this transparency initiative is the move toward publishing project data to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) standard through Akvo RSR. It is planned that the IATI XML data will feed to Openaid.nl, a global data transparency portal, developed by Akvo and Amsterdam-based Zimmerman and Zimmerman. The data will also be easy to exchange with other organisations and systems that work with the IATI standard, including The World Bank, DFID, UN agencies and national governments.

Photos of participants in Akvo RSR training workshops for Dutch Embassy partners in Kenya
 (l-r) Rahim Otieno and Jane Mbugua from Sarakasi Trust. 3 June 2014. Photos by Elma den Toom.
Above: Michelle Maloba, F4A; Simon Kiragu, KMT. 25 November 2014. Photos by Elma den Toom.
Below: (l-r) Aimee Akinyi Ongeso, Kituo Cha Sheria; Timothy Mungai Mwangi, SNV Kenya. 3 February 2015. Photos by Phylis Webi.
Bottom: (l-r) Dalmas Okendo, TI-Kenya; Collins Baswony, TI-Kenya; Judy Were, Goal Kenya. 25 November 2014. Photos by Elma den Toom.

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Below: local partners implementing Dutch government-funded projects post video updates of the work they’re doing. SLAM AFRICA is a poetry slam hosted by the PAWA254 Arts and Culture Centre. It aims to nurture young poets and writers, create great performers, empower and educate others, and propel the poetry and spoken word industry to grow bigger and better.

Public display screens
The Netherlands Embassy in Kenya has become the first organisation to trial a new system called Akvo Opencast. This is a web-based tool that allows organisations to build and share stories from their Akvo RSR projects, via public display screens. Other Dutch embassies in Bangladesh, Benin, Indonesia and Mali will also be piloting the service. The first Akvo Opencast prototype has been developed by Akvo and Amsterdam-based creative team Zimmerman & Zimmerman, with the support of Water Department (IGG) of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There’s an initial brochure that explains the concept available here

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Below: social change through cultural arts in Kenya. (Centre, l-r:) Jane Mbugua, Sarakasi Trust; Rahim Otieno, Sarakasi Trust; Shitemi Khamadi, PAWA254; Lynnet Ngigi, Kuona Trust, accompanied by the Sarakasi dancers and acrobats. Photo: Mwarv Kirubi. You can read more about the Dutch government’s work in culture and the Arts in Kenya here.

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Jo Pratt is communications manager at Akvo, based in UK. You can follow her on Twitter @jo108

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