We’ve been working on a whole lot of improvements and extensions to Akvopedia lately.

An all-new Sustainability portal
Akvopedia has for some years contained a large, detailed section on technologies related to water (226 article pages) and sanitation (57 article pages). From composting latrines to sand dam construction, and surface level rainwater harvesting tanks to activated sludge techniques, with new article pages being put up all the time. Add this to our Finance portal (28 article pages), and project implementation is a well-prepared plan.

However, with the addition of the new Sustainability Portal (52 article pages), a project’s long-term success can now get a helping hand. Built in cooperation with IRC, who have contributed their Triple-S building blocks framework, the portal follows the sustainability structure of the F.I.E.T.S. model (created by Dutch WASH Alliance), which covers financial, institutional, environmental, technological, and social sustainability considerations. It’s not enough to secure funding for a project and know how to build it – designing projects so water access can be sustained for many years is key. From reliable operation and maintenance to socially sustainable projects that a whole community can get behind – it’s all covered in the new portal. There are also lots of institutional decisions and methods that can make or break how successful a project might be, such as Transparency & Accountability or Monitoring. And let’s not forget the environment. When partners build and use new water and sanitation systems, we want them to be compatible with the environmental limitations and local resources to avoid waste problems or ecological damage down the line. We also include sustainable financing methods and set out why they matter.

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Above: Gender Mainstreaming is a social sustainability method.

Rainwater Harvesting with Extras
With the help of our partner RAIN Foundation, we have created a greatly expanded Rainwater Harvesting (RWH) section in our Water Portal. It not only includes rainwater technologies (such as surface water collection or in situ methods of collection) but also tools, which illustrate methods of financing rainwater harvesting projects and approaches to them such as Multiple Use Services (MUS). There is also a new Innovation Pilots section, which gives model examples of experimentally successful rainwater projects in Africa and Nepal. Plus we have added Akvo’s Really Simple Reporting (RSR) projects that include rainwater harvesting at the bottom of the page for more field examples. (Read our latest blog for more about how we’ve linked RSR and Akvopedia.)

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Above: The Tools section on the Rainwater Harvesting page of Akvopedia. Below: Akvopedia’s more spacious design with fewer “wiki lines”, bolder titles, smaller icons, and pink links.

Akvopedia looks different
As the knowledgeable (but “nerdy”) child of Akvo, we took notice of the Akvo.org website redesign and realized we needed an overhaul of our own. We rethought link colors, image borders, and content dividers…changes galore! Our logo is now inclusive of a dark pink, so all links within Akvopedia follow suit with a pink set of links. Bold pink for pre-visited and a faded hue for post-visited, so that you can keep track of where you have been. Our icons are smaller and we framed our submenu photos (example here) with a dark grey border, increasing contrast overall. In addition, we changed the boxes of our tables (example here) in the Sanitation Portal from that awkward gold to a cool blue, to match our wiki skin. Finally, we wanted to look a little more innovative than the traditional wiki. We took out a lot of typical wiki “lines” that separate sections, adding a spacious feel to reflect the expanse of knowledge Akvopedia holds. However, we’ve kept most of the content-placement structure of our wiki the same, because Wikipedia led the pack on that one, so we want people to visually understand that when they come to our wiki, it holds authority and depth of knowledge, as users have come to expect from a wiki. akvopedia redesign.850

We welcome comments as well, how do you like our new design?

Winona Azure is an Akvopedia editor for Akvo.org.