I joined the Akvo Kenya team (Luuk, Phylis and Francis) for ten days to see how the East Africa team is doing and how we can support them (even better) from Amsterdam. From the 1st April we will have two Kenyan staff employed by Akvo Kenya Limited. Therefore we needed to sort out some paperwork to make this happen. Phylis has been busy sorting out bank accounts, contracts and work permits. When I was over we looked at the administration system and came up with some draft contracts. This is Kenya so things are not always as fast as we would like. The bank account took a lot of documents to be filled in and signed and up to today we still have no confirmation of the account. However we’re hanging in there – while waiting patiently I took a set of photos around the Akvo Kenya office.
Photo above: Akvo Kenya office, as modelled by Phylis Gichuru-Webi (photo by Kathelyne van den Berg – click the image for more shots). Photo top: Luuk Diphoorn and Phylis Gichuru-Webi discussing the incorporation of Akvo Kenya Limited.
I also joined Francis and Luuk to visit Marsabit for Akvo FLOW training with FH, a partner of the Millennium Water Alliance consortium. Marsabit is in North Kenya – we flew in a small plane via Wajir and Moyale. According to Luuk it’s always very hot there. Well, not when I was there. The rainy season had started, so maybe I brought the rain from Holland who knows? But being in Marsabit with some rain is not too bad – to me it felt like real Africa with red mud all over. Let me tell you a little more about Marsabit… it’s a small village in North Kenya with only dirt roads so when it rains it changed into one big mud pool. However the Kenyans are well prepared for that – with rainy boots and a proper 4X4 with a good driver there is not really a problem.
Distributing Android smart phones and chargers to FH and Millennium Water Alliance project teams. Marsabit, Kenya. March 2013 (photo: Kathelyne van den Berg).
It was very nice too see the Akvo FLOW training. The enumerators and FH staff were tech savy and did not seem to have any problem conducting questionnaires on smart phones. Since the battery life of these phones can be a problem in the field, we supplied a solar kit with every phone. It’s a lamp that is a battery and is charged by a small solar panel, this way you can charge your phone while in the field or in the car. Marsabit does not have a good 3G network so the enumerators have to come into the FH office to send the data to the dashboard using WiFi.
Above: We’re discovering that uploading a photo of each trainee to Flickr and creating a set is a great way to raise their profile, demonstrate our work and remember who is who later. Click the set above to see the group from Marsabit.
On World Water Day there was supposed to be an event in Nanyuki so we decided to take a road trip from Marsabit via Isiolo to Nanyuki so we could, together with Violet from MWA Kenya, represent the Millennium Water Alliance consortium. But when leaving at six in the morning it turned out that the event was cancelled and that we had to take the roadtrip anyway. From Marsabit to Isolo the road is unpaved and it was raining all the way even when we drove through the desert. The road can be dangerous so we drove in a convoy with a guarded escort. It was exciting in lots ways. Luuk and I were happy to have Francis in the middle of the car, his arms must have been blue from my squeezing.
It was a good week and it was good to see operations in the field. Akvo Kenya is really taking shape.
Kathelyne van den Berg is Manager, partner operations at Akvo, based in Amsterdam