After a successful first week in San Pedro Sula, we travelled to Mexico City to continue the programme launch of the Millennium Water Alliance’s Latin America Program (MWA-LAP). The only thing that seemed to be in short supply from the first week was a good cup of tea*. So from a personal standpoint, I was happy to see that this was a more abundant commodity in our new location.

Practicing an Akvo FLOW test survey. Photo credit: Laura Roverts

During this second week, Living Water International (LWI) and World Vision (WV), the two Millennium Water Alliance partners responsible for implementing the programme in Mexico, came together. They were joined by representatives from MWA, University of North Carolina (UNC), the FEMSA Foundation and Improve International. In total, LWI and WV will reach over 88,000 largely underserved and indigenous populations in rural Southern Mexico in the States of Puebla, Oaxaca, Chiapas and Veracruz with access to integrated WASH services.

Ill-health associated with deficits in water and sanitation undermines productivity and economic growth, and contributes to a cycle of poverty. The overall goal of this programme is to contribute to improvements in health and livelihoods in rural Latin America through increased access to safe water and improved sanitation and hygiene. Through an integrated, community-based approach, the programme focuses on eradicating water poverty, minimising environmental degradation of water resources, and creating a healthier living environment.

The training followed the same schedule from the week before, with programmatic information the first two days followed by three days of Akvo RSR and Akvo FLOW training. Once again, the partners seemed very excited about learning about these tools and how to use them to meet their project objectives. This programme is going to be utilising a variety of point of use (POU) water treatment options, so being able to follow how these perform in real time through Akvo RSR updates is going to be very interesting.

Data collection for the baseline survey will begin soon, so the participants were keen to understand the finer points of FLOW. We had a few technical difficulties, which are to be expected after big release, but working in close coordination with our development team we resolved these bugs as soon as they cropped up. It was a great learning experience for us to see how the partners interact with the tools and the comments and suggestions that we receive are vital in making sure RSR and FLOW continue to be tools that fulfill user needs. I have a long list of feature requests for both tools which I will be discussing with the development team to see how we can integrate them into our upcoming work.

The conversation was also very rich between partners as they discussed how these tools complement their work in the field. I have tried to capture the highlights of these discussions and will post these abbreviated versions on the discussion page of our Akvo FLOW support portal. The advantages of working in an alliance became very clear to me as the two weeks in Latin America whizzed by. The ability to utilise common indicators as well as share stories of success and failure across a region can provide the ability to learn from each other and improve the way we work going forward. We also continued the in-depth discussion that was started in Honduras about creating a data quality control protocol for using FLOW in an alliance. This will obviously vary from alliance to alliance but with lots of input from the partners we were able to settle on a model that maintains high data validly, including quality control at the field level, incorporating local context.

To hear more about it, check out our video playlist, which has been updated with additional interviews with participants from week two.

All in all it was a successful launch of the MWA-LAP and we now move on to the implementation phase. We look forward to the three years ahead and working with all the great people we have met over the last two weeks. On a final note I would like to thank Coca Cola for providing both the meeting room and a tasty lunch to keep us going though the day.

Additional images of the MWA-LAP training are available in Picasa.

* Henry is English. Henry Jewell is the programme manager for Akvo FLOW and is based in Washington, D.C.