It’s almost exactly a year since the Football for Water programme launched at World Water Day in the Netherlands. Akvo’s role has been to help the partners bring the projects in the three countries online, so everyone can see what’s happening where. Together with Aqua for All we did our first workshop in Kenya in October, focused on three themes – how to make the programme self-sustaining and entrepreneurial, how to communicate what is happening as it happens and how to put in place a formal monitoring process. Each year there will be a new round of projects, in specific districts and schools. I’m pleased to say that the 2013 projects are now all online via Akvo RSR – so you can see for yourself the projects in Ghana, Kenya and Mozambique.

Using technology to improve communications

Football for Water brings together sport and international development, putting football coaches into schools in poor communities, inspiring the kids to improve their skills on the pitch, while teaching them about about water, sanitation and hygiene. Meanwhile school water and sanitation facilities are improved. For each country there is a programme coordinator – Hilda (Ghana), Peter (Kenya) and Manuel (Mozambique). Obviously they can’t travel constantly around all the regions and schools because that would be really expensive and impractical – so they work with local partners (there is one football partner and one or two “WASH” partner organisations in each location). Akvo Really Simple Reporting is being introduced so the coordinators can enable local partners to do their own updates, which makes everything much more real and connected. It also means they can point people to the site and everyone can see the latest. This reduces communication overhead and demands. We’re also anticipating this helping each country learn from the experience of the others, and motivate everyone involved.

In each country Akvo will host a workshop about communication (focused on using Akvo RSR) and monitoring (so using Akvo FLOW). From 21-24 March we trained 21 people from the seven partner organisations working on Football for Water Ghana. Some staff from IRC and Maple consult, part of the Ghana National Water programme, also joined the Akvo FLOW training.

Training strong teams that can sustain programmes

To build strong teams of people that can use Akvo tools themselves for the long term, we’re investing in local partnerships and providing local support. For this workshop in Accra we worked jointly with Jerry Atsui, based in Togo. He is a colleague of Romain who we trained in the beginning of this year at a FLOW training week in Amsterdam. We started with the basics and installed four Android phones, made adjustments to the Football for Water Ghana baseline survey (think of this as the first measurements taken at the beginning), assigned surveys to phones, and finalised the presentation. These are the basic preparations for each workshop, and will be repeated in the next ones. The key goal is what’s known in development circles as “capacity building” – in other words, we train people so they can run these programmes themselves in future, and teach others to do so. Most (60%) of the participants brought their own android phone and we downloaded Akvo FLOW to the phones.

Here’s a video of me talking with Hilda Addah of PFAG (the Ghanaian Football Association) and George Dorgbetor of Unicef about what they’ve been doing using Akvo FLOW in the first schools.

Everyone was really pleased with the new Football for Water FLOW Dashboard which went live just a few days before the workshop. We started entering the first data during the workshop and Kenya, Ghana and Mozambique will jointly use this dashboard moving forward. It’s now easy for each to put survey data into the system for their own purposes, while sharing it automatically with the other countries and the funding and support partners that are based in the Netherlands.

An unstable internet connection at the workshop caused some problems downloading all the reports, but in general everyone had a feeling that as they uploaded data online, it was immediately published on the web. For me, as someone new to the field of monitoring, it’s been great to be able to watch Akvo FLOW help everyone see the direct outcomes of the initiatives at the six schools we visited in the Accra region.

These school visits were important. We split into three groups and visited six schools in Accra. The Football for Water team concluded the school visits by thanking the principle of the six schools, and she expressed her desire to stay informed and involved. The solution was on her desk… an Android Smartphone. Hilda Addah (Ghana country lead) will share the outcomes with her next time via the Football for Water website.

Me with Hilda Addah (Ghana country lead, PFAG (the Ghanaian Football Association). Accra, Ghana. 22 March 2013.

Meanwhile in the Netherlands, during the international celebration of World Water Day, the new website of was shown off for the first time. The Ghana updates and videos were directly visible on the homepage, coming straight from the teams on the ground. The team also interviewed KNVB’s Oeds-Willem Miedema alongside Akvo’s Peter van der Linde.

People can also follow and interact with the team via Facebook and Twitter.

Many thanks to Hilda Addah, the Ghana country lead, for all logistics and being able to work at the amazing office of the Professional Football Association Ghana in the Accra Football stadium. You can see my full Flickr set from the workshop and school visits here.

Frodo van Oostveen is programme manager at Akvo, based in Amsterdam.