It’s eight weeks until we introduce our new system at Stockholm Water Week and a lot of things are happening in parallel. While our IT team is deep into software development to rebuild our website and core products, I want to share progress we are making with partners.

Over the past month, we have gathered 17 pilot projects – local field partners spread across India, Madagascar, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Nepal, Malawi and Ethiopia – with help from our initial signed up partners. It’s promising to see that the first funders have also come forward to commit to projects, so we can truly start providing people with safe drinking water and sanitation and field-test the Really Simple Reporting module in a matter of weeks.

A special thanks goes out to the company Plieger that has decided to contribute to the UN year of Sanitation by funding three projects to celebrate its 75th anniversary later this year. To bring some of the initial projects to life and explore dynamic ways of reporting we have agreed with Ben White from Africa Interactive that local African reporters will be making short films about the current situation in two project areas in Tanzania and Cameroon, over the next weeks. I’m convinced they will do a great job.

The Akvopedia is also expanding. Merel Hoogmoed and Bastiaan de Veen from Acacia Insitute, Karin Weijers from Ibota, Nick Dickinson from IRC and David Castello from Waste are creating an initial structure that focuses on appropriate water and sanitation technologies and approaches that have proven to be successful.

A new manual explains how to create an Akvopedia article and we now have the capacity to assist new collaborators. Over the next weeks we will have to mobilize different organizations and networks, to find more volunteers that are willing to invest some time on a structural basis. It would be great if we could get the UNESCO-IHE Alumni network involved here as well.

I am also delighted that Ravi Jambagi, the director of Indus Technology who last week signed a cooperation agreement with us, has offered in-kind help in bringing Akvo to life in India. In true Akvo spirit his daughter Akhilla will join us during her holiday to gain some experience and make sure we are in tune with the younger generations.

I have written before about the steps we need to take before we can become financial sustainable. The EU tender procedure did unfortunately not work out. We got treated with a ‘non realistic and not relevant’ stamp, a letter which I shall put on my office wall to remind me of what we are trying to change. On the 1st of July we expect to hear from our submission at the Schokland Funds in the Netherlands. Indications right now are quite positive.

Yesterday Frederik Claassen initiated a visit with Margriet Schreuders at the Nationale Postcode Loterij head office in Amsterdam that turned out to be a real meeting of minds. The Postcode Loterij generates capital for development (over 225 M Euro) and we will be aiming to get on the list of organisations that receive structural funding from them. Margriet valued our innovative and entrepreneurial approach and we shared some thoughts about ways in which our tools might help the Postcode Loterij to visualise how their investments are spent to the general public, in a dynamic way.

On the Corporate side, Mark has been working on refining our pitch. Our talk this week with Paul Faeth at Global Water Challenge confirmed there are a lot of opportunities in this area, but it will probably take some time to materialise. A special thanks goes out to Bram Ellens at eBay that only needed a few words to get our concept. He has been very helpful in mobilizing his IT network, so thanks for that.

Next week Monday I will be visiting Brussels to learn more about the program aquawereness that Agnes Biesiekierska works on. It will be a great moment to get in contact with the network of Corporates that are involved and witness the progress our partner EWP (European Water Partnership) has been making recently. EWP has many corporate members and we hope we are able to explore opportunities to explain how our system could help its members develop new methods to connect their customers, including mainstream consumers, to development activity.

We met with three of the Tenq team, including Mariska de Vries. 24 June 2008.

This week Mark and I also had the pleasure of finally meeting Tom van de Ven and Mariska de Vries at Tenq. Their office is beautifully situated on the Keizersgracht in Amsterdam and sets the scene for the great things they are up to. A percentage of the income that Tenq generates is spent on water and sanitation projects, and we explored possibilities for cooperation that we will follow-up on shortly.

Today I met Siegfried Woldhek, the director of Nabuur, in their new office who has been kind enough to share his experiences in setting up an IT based development organisation. We aim to establish Akvo as a non-profit foundation before August and the set-up of Nabuur (empowered management team, small supervisory board and a heavyweight advisory commission) might ensure the operational flexibility we are looking for. Nabuur is in the process of launching a new website in August and we agreed to organise a follow-up meeting in August to give our cooperation ‘hand and feet’.

Lastly I wish Dieuwertje Damen a lot of success in trying to realize an Amsterdam Water Bar. You have the spirit to make it work and we are happy to help you out. Mark and I really enjoyed the time we spent talking with you.

Peter van der Linde is co-founder and partner – director of Akvo.