• Written by Emily Armanetti
    30 August 2013


Football for Water is made up of a consortium of seven Netherlands-based organisations working together with numerous local implementing partner organisations and schools.

Photo above: members of the Football for Water team in Ghana – (left to right) Lucy Apenteng, teacher, Association Community School, Ghana; Philemon Sodjah, teacher, Osu Presby 2 Day Boys JHS, Ghana; George Dorgbetor, UNICEF; Hilda Addah, country co-ordinator, Football for Water Ghana; Philip Arthur, programme officer, PFAF; David Ernest Arko, teacher, 5BN Basic School, Ghana. Photo by Nana Kofi Acquah.


Football for Water uses the popularity and energy of football to tackle water, sanitation and hygiene education and infrastructure problems in schools.  The team is using Akvo RSR to bring all aspects of this €27 million programme online and Akvo FLOW to monitor and evaluate progress.


Initially focused on more than 1,000 schools in Ghana, Mozambique and Kenya, the success of the programme means that similar initiatives are emerging in other countries.



Capturing the imagination of children can be tricky in the best of circumstances. In areas of the world where water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure and awareness remain under-developed, children’s health and their performance in school can suffer. But maintaining appropriate facilities and educating children on the importance of hygiene can present a unique set of challenges.

Following World Water Day 2012, seven Netherlands-based organisations came together to launch the Football for Water programme, which takes an innovative approach to tackling the issues of water and sanitation infrastructure and hygiene education. Through a four-year, €27 million programme, Football for Water uses the popularity and energy of football to improve hygiene education, drinking water and sanitation in schools in Ghana, Mozambique and Kenya. The goal is to monitor and map more than 1,000 schools by 2015, a scale that has the potential to impact more than 700,000 children.

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 to bring about behavioural change. Meanwhile school water and sanitation facilities are improved.

Who’s using Akvo tools on the ground?

kisumu training

kisumu flow participants

Programme coordinators within each country work with local partners – a mix of football organisations and water and sanitation organisations – to introduce Akvo RSR and enable local partners to bring these projects online and post their own updates. This makes everything much more real and connected and helps people in each country share best practice and learn from each others’ experiences, while reducing communication overheads.

Through a series of training workshops on Akvo RSR and Akvo FLOW, the programme is building strong teams of people that can use Akvo tools to run the programmes themselves for the long term, and teach others to do so.

Above: participants and trainers at Akvo RSR (top) and Akvo FLOW workshops in Kisumu, Kenya

Throughout the first year of the programme, partners including the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Dutch Royal Soccer Union (KNVB)/WorldCoaches, Unicef, Simavi, Vitens Evides International (VEI) and Aqua for All have been working to bring these projects online on the Football for Water website using RSR. Today, every region involved has a project on RSR. Regular updates to the project pages with photos, videos, interviews and data bring to life the progress that’s being made. 

Above: The girl’s football team from Piny Owacho Primary school presents a skit about the consequences of eating food before washing hands during the 1st interschool football for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene competition. Video credit: Benedict Otieno

Monitoring and evaluation

Akvo and Aqua for All are responsible for the project monitoring and evaluation (PME) of the programme. Using Akvo FLOW, the team has created a baseline survey and is monitoring data such as the number of adequate latrines and football pitches, how many students use soap at hand-washing facilities and annual maintenance and operations budgets. Once the data is collected, it is automatically uploaded to the Football for Water FLOW dashboard and therefore automatically shared across the countries in the programme, as well as the funding and support partners in the Netherlands. This makes the direct outcomes of the initiatives at each school visible to everyone involved. 

The success of this approach – untested until now – has broad implications. Several spin-offs are emerging, including Sport for Development – a further €4 million, eight-country programme.

Emily Armanetti is communications manager at Akvo, based in New York City.

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