• Written by Jo Pratt
    28 July 2015

SNV is a Dutch NGO with a long history of
alleviating poverty by focusing on increasing people’s income and employment opportunities and improving their access to basic services.

Akvo is closely collaborating with SNV globally to realise a number of programmes aimed at enhancing the equity, sustainability and effectiveness of WASH services and agricultural practices as well as improving the effectiveness of the international development sector overall through the introduction of online tools.

Above: Rachael Silomba, deputy director engineering/coordinator Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Unit, Kasama Municipal Council. Milenge Primary School, Kasama, 29 June 2015. Photo by Kabelenga Phiri.

What’s happening in Zambia

Most local authorities in Zambia do not have adequate reliable data on the status of water services. They rely largely on paper-based manual systems for gathering and processing information. These systems are slow and error-prone and ultimately inhibit timely availability of data to service managers.

SNV and Akvo are collaborating with the Zambian government to map and monitor rural water supply points using Akvo FLOW within SNV’s FLOMAP programme. FLOMAP builds on an existing initiative lead by UNICEF to to develop a database for sanitation facilities and practices based on a database called DHIS2 which is currently being used by the Zambian Ministry of Health.

village sunlight 850

Above (left to right): Katungu Mukelabai, WASH Advisor, SNV Zambia; Bernard Kaoma, sanitation champion; Ronald Musonda, senior health inspector, Kasama Municipal Council. Musa Village, Kasama District, 29 June 2015. Photo by Kabelenga Phiri.
Below (left to right): Steven Silomba, head teacher, Milenge Primary School; Katungu Mukelabai, WASH advisor, SNV Zambia; Rachael Silomba, deputy director engineering/coordinator Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Unit, Kasama Municipal Council. Milenge Primary School, Kasama, 29 June 2015. Photo by Kabelenga Phiri.

head +2 850
FLOMAP – improving rural water services

FLOMAP aims to improve the planning, budgeting and monitoring of rural water services in order to create substantial improvements to their functionality and quality. The data collected informs local authorities on the status of rural water points and the distribution of improved water supply services so that they can identify and address inequalities of service and areas where improved water sources are required. The data is also made available to other users.

Akvo and SNV have been working to build government capacity around use of geographical information systems (GIS) and mapping tools, and to help local district officers make best use of data to improve their decision-making. Akvo has customised the interactive Akvo FLOW dashboard to visualise the water point dataset collected with FLOW. And together with SNV, we’ve trained participants from the Ministry of Local Government and Housing (MLGH), the eight selected district councils, and strategic partners from the Lusaka Department of Water Affairs, Water Aid, KfW Development Bank and UNICEF in how to use (and train their colleagues to use) Akvo FLOW, and data visualisation tools such as CartoDB and Google Fusion Tables.

FLOMAP has so far been piloted in eight districts, and the plan is to now scale it up to the larger Western Province, and, ultimately, nationwide.

SSH4A – tangible impacts in community health

SNV’s Sustainable Sanitation & Hygiene for All (SSH4A) Results programme is a five year programme funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). It aims to enable access to improved sanitation for over 2 million people and improved hygiene for over 2.7 million people in nine countries by 2016.

SNV has been using Akvo FLOW to collect sanitation data in the Kasama District of Zambia since April 2014 as part of the SSH4A programme, and it was consequently confident to roll out its use for FLOMAP.

3 at school 850

Above (left to right): Alice Namukonda, chairperson of the School WASH (water, sanitation & health education) committee, Milenge Primary School; Katungu Mukelabai, WASH advisor, SNV Zambia; Kanyanta Bwalya, area pump mender (APM), Kasama. Milenge Primary School, Kasama. 29 June 2015. Photo by Kabelenga Phiri.

Creating a national WASH database

The national DHIS2 database is used by the government of Zambia and organisations such as SNV and UNICEF to monitor sanitation. Initially data was collected using paper and then fed manually into the DHIS2 database. It was then customised so that it’s possible to use feature phones (simple Nokia phones) to submit data via SMS to the system. This is limited to a few questions, and, unlike Akvo FLOW, doesn’t have the capability to include GPS and pictures. 

The DHIS2 system is an extensive database with excellent data analysis features, while Akvo FLOW is a state of the art mobile data collection tool already being used in Zambia in the FLOMAP and SSH4A programmes. Combining the strengths of both systems will allow the government to have a very powerful monitoring system in place for monitoring WASH facilities and services. Akvo FLOW’s monitoring feature will be used to continuously update the database. Initially we had planned for the data to be uploaded to DHIS2 manually, but we actually managed to get a very first workable solution in place for an automatic integration between Akvo FLOW and DHIS2 via an API.

In the months and years ahead we plan to further strengthen our collaboration with SNV in Zambia on a number of fronts, including the expansion of FLOW-related activities into the agriculture and renewable energy sectors. The activities undertaken so far are just the very beginning of a long-term strategic partnership with SNV in Zambia.

Jo Pratt is communications manager at Akvo, based in the UK. You can follow her on Twitter @jo108.

Updated 29 and 30 July 2015 to amend photograph captions and add additional image.

Other stories in the Akvo partner heroes series: