At Akvo we are committed to helping our partners publish their data in the most useful ways they can, within established best practice associated with open source licensing and the open source movement.

We share all of these policies under a Creative Commons license so others can learn from and improve on them. See the licensing and copyright section for more details on this.

External policies

What is GDPR?

GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation. It is a new European law aimed at further securing the protection of personal data. It is a single set of rules directly enforceable as of 25 May 2018 in all EU Member States. The GDPR regulates the processing of personal data of EU individuals, providing them with more privacy rights and placing more significant obligations on companies and organisations regardless of where they are located.

What the Akvo Foundation is doing

At Akvo, we are committed to protecting our partners' data. For the past few months, a dedicated team within Akvo have been working on GDPR compliance. Our goal is to be GDPR compliant by 25 May 2018.

We will present updates on our Akvo blog.

Information on GDPR

For more detailed information on GDPR, follow the link to the EU GDPR page: http://www.eugdpr.org/.

For any further questions please contact us at gdpr[at]akvo.org.

 

Revision history

Last updated: 2 November 2017

Here you will find the Akvo Foundation's Data Processing Agreement (DPA). The purpose of this DPA is to secure adequate safeguards with the respect to the protection of privacy and to ensure that the processing of Personal Data is in accordance with the Data Controller’s and Data Processor’s legal obligations.

You need to be an existing Partner organisation to initiate the DPA signing process:

    1. Download our DPA here or click on the button below.
    2. Review the document.
    3. If you have any questions or need further information regarding the DPA before signing the agreement, please contact us on dpa@akvo.org.
    4. If you agree with the terms of the document, complete the necessary details on page 4.
    5. Continue to complete the 'signed on behalf of' paragraph with your signature, name and position on page 26 of the agreement.
    6. Scan and return the agreement to us by emailing the document to dpa@akvo.org.
    7. We will email you a link from which to download the signed/completed agreement.

Updated: 1 December 2015

We think it’s great you want to use the Akvo APIs. We hope you come up with lots of cool ways to use the data, and we’d love to see what you create. There are just a couple of things we’d like to ask of you, to ensure Akvo’s products themselves remains secure and continues to provide a timely, workable experience for all users. As we respect you, please respect our Code of Conduct and try to follow its rules.

Respect our partners

Akvo’s partner organisations have information in Akvo’s products (including Akvo RSR and Akvo Flow) for the purpose of improving the transparency and effectiveness of development interventions in order to help more people climb out of poverty faster. Please respect this mission and all involved, and help us move the ball down the field toward the ultimate goal of improving people’s lives.

Any activity which disrespects our partners, project donors and individual users will not be tolerated.

Don’t misrepresent the data

To the best of your ability, please reflect data from the API accurately. The data represents a project (or organisation) communicating its story: what it hopes to accomplish, funding it needs, current progress, etc. Don’t, for example, create an application using Akvo photos or descriptions to promote your own cause, however just or seemingly related. The data is there to help a particular project, or promote the work of a particular organisation: please use it to do the same.

Also, please make sure you understand Akvo products data structures, represent fields properly, and accurately draw conclusions or aggregate statistics from the data. We understand that anyone can make mistakes… but it is your responsibility to fix them once found.

The API is not for commercial use

Akvo Foundation is an ANBI-registered non-profit, and we are restricted in how we can allow our resources to be used for commercial purposes. Commercial entities can use the API to charitable ends in line with the Akvo Foundation’s mission, but if you have any doubt that what you are doing is within our terms of service, please contact us. Also, if you have a commercial use which you would like to work on together with us, don’t hesitate to talk to us.

Be your own brand

We think it is great that you want to build applications on top of the Akvo system. But you have to maintain your own brand.

Make sure users understand that your products and services are yours alone, and not owned or operated by Akvo Foundation. You can use the Akvo logo or color scheme for the purpose of visually associating the data you pull from Akvo’s products with Akvo, for example. But please don’t call your application “Akvo Donation App.” Something like “Water Donor” would be nice, and more appropriate.

Respect the API servers…

…and others who may be using them at the same time. The more calls you make to the API, the less resources there are available for other developers (and yes, the more Akvo’s operating expenses go up).

Don’t request data you don’t need; cache data when possible; refresh cached data only when it expires, or you hit a cache miss (e.g., you come across an image URL template previously unknown to you). If your application is slow because you are making a lot of API calls or the API calls take a long time to return, you’re likely doing something which conflicts with how we’ve built the products.

Please take a look at our knowledge base and support forums for information, or to start a discussion with us. We’re happy to help you, as well as discuss API modifications which make what you want to do faster and less demanding.

Data license & Use the Powered by Akvo.org logo

All data available through public APIs provided by the Akvo Foundation is available under an open license. We require you to give us an attribution when you use the data. Please use the Powered by Akvo.org logo with a link to the Akvo web site, as in this example (at the bottom right corner of the page).

You can download the logo here: [link]

Link images © back to Akvo

When writing applications that use Akvo images, please hyperlink those images back to Akvo, either to a full-size image hosted by Akvo or a partner, whichever is most appropriate.

If you have a great idea for linking the image to something else in your application, that’s fine. We’d just like you to provide a link to the associated data on Akvo somewhere in the application flow, in order to communicate copyright use.

Revision history

21 February 2019: changed the Akvo logo.
6 May 2016: Removed reference to Akvo Openaid (discontinued product).
1 December 2015: Added clarification about data license and API.
19 May 2015: Removed mention of Developer Terms of service.
7 December 2012: Corrected grammar in the “Use the Powered by Akvo.org logo” section and added a link.
3 August 2012: Added the section “Use the Powered by Akvo.org logo” section.
21 June 2012: Included Akvo FLOW and Akvo OpenAid in the document and tweaked the content to fit more than one product. Updated links.
April 2010: Creation of document.

Internal policies

Our mission

At Akvo, we believe that inclusive and sustainable change will happen faster if governments and non-governmental organisations become more effective, accountable and collaborative. With a team of data and development experts and an open source data platform, we help our partners use data to achieve impact. Our partners primarily work in the WASH and agriculture sectors.

Since 2008, we’ve helped over 20 governments and 200 organisations in more than 70 countries become more effective through our unique approach to development and data: the data journey methodology. As part of the data journey - Design, Capture, Understand and Act - we provide a series of data services to ensure success at every step of the programme. We support these services with an open source data platform.

 

Our team and values

Akvo is a unique organisation, with 74 people and 22 nationalities spread out across the globe. You can find us in Uganda, Colombia, Indonesia, India, Bulgaria, Spain, UK, US, Sweden, Finland, Nigeria, Nepal, Burkina Faso, Mali, the Netherlands and Kenya.

We stand for:

  • Diversity
  • Inclusivity
  • Collaboration
  • Accountability
  • Innovation
  • Continuous learning
  • Sustainability

 

Our vision

We believe in equal access to public services, reliable infrastructure and a safer environment for everyone. We are convinced that this will happen faster if governments and non-governmental organisations become more effective, accountable and collaborative.

Through our unique approach to data and development, we believe our partners will achieve inclusive and sustainable impact - impact at the level of the communities our partners work with.

 

Akvo's Code of Conduct

The purpose of this Code of Conduct is to ensure that the welfare, basic human rights, and physical security of all individuals are recognised and safeguarded by all Akvo staff members in accordance with international standards.

This code is meant to guide and protect staff members who are working for Akvo in different situations. We strive to create awareness of these situations and to anticipate the consequences of our staff members’ behaviour towards others.

 

Scope

  • This Code of Conduct applies to all Akvo staff members, including but not limited to full-time employees, part-time employees, contractors, interns, volunteers and temporary workers.
  • All staff members are made aware of the existence of this Code of Conduct.
  • All staff members ensure that colleagues fully understand the Code of Conduct, as well as the rationale behind it, and apply it in practice.
  • The Code of Conduct applies to all staff members during regular working hours and, when travelling on behalf of Akvo, 24 hours per day.
  • The Code of Conduct is available on the Akvo websites and partner organisations are made aware of the existence of the Akvo Code of Conduct.

In our work, we collaborate with many partners. To ensure that these partners adhere to our values, we carry out a thorough investigation of the partner’s capacity to adhere to this code before deciding to enter into agreements with them.

 

Basic principles

Akvo is made up of a diverse group of people. The diversity of Akvo is an asset that helps the organisation cooperate with its partners around the globe in the best possible way, both in person and digitally.

All staff work closely with one another and communicate openly, taking care not to exclude anyone through language or otherwise. The contributions and ideas of all staff members are considered to be equally valuable.

Akvo offers equal opportunities to all its staff members to enable them to reach their goals and develop professionally. All staff members working for Akvo show respect for one another, both personally and professionally. They cooperate with each other in an atmosphere of harmony and trust.

Akvo is committed to providing a safe environment for all of its staff free from discrimination
based on age, disability, political views, civil status, pregnancy or maternity, race, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, gender, gender reassignment or sexual orientation. Akvo will do everything in its power to prevent this (see the Akvo Non-Discrimination policy). Staff members are expected to talk about Akvo and its partners with respect at all times.

Any person found to have committed an offence, whether it is corruption, sexual harassment, abuse or discrimination of any kind, will face disciplinary action up to and including dismissal from employment.

 

Specific behaviour subject to disciplinary measures

Conduct towards other staff members

Akvo encourages all staff members to deal with each other in an open and professional manner and to respect cultural, religious and political differences. In order to make our cooperation within the organisation fruitful, we encourage all staff members to:

  • Always make sure that colleagues and partners are informed about where you are and how you can be reached. Use your calendar and out-of-office assistant, and leave contact details when applicable. Always make sure that someone is able to back you up regarding pending work or deliverables when travelling or out of office.
  • Always be punctual, inside or outside the office. Make sure partners and colleagues are informed if you will not be able to attend a meeting or meet a deadline.
  • Help team members and partner organisations, or others who are seeking advice, as much as your work allows. Be constructive and honest and try to provide them with alternative solutions to get the job done. Be careful about managing expectations, especially towards partners. Do not make promises you may not be able to keep. To the outside world and to your colleagues: yes means yes!
  • Akvo is an organisation that values and nurtures its diversity. We work on the basis of mutual trust. However, be aware that cultural differences can easily lead to misunderstandings. Discuss these issues with colleagues. If you are not entirely certain about the implications of (especially oral) agreements: be inquisitive.
  • Seek the advice of peers and partners when setting up activities or processes to ensure quality, commitment, and the inclusion of all actors who need to be involved.
    Although it can be expected that close bonds of friendship might develop amongst staff members, these friendships should never hinder the realisation of the programme objectives.
  • Managers and supervisors are not allowed to enter into a romantic, sexual or similarly intimate relationship with the staff members they supervise.
  • If the hierarchical relationship cannot be changed in the event of the above, then one of the parties will be required to terminate their employment.

Abuse of power

Working in the development sector is a delicate business. Akvo wishes to be respected by its partners and intends to guarantee this by applying strong criteria.

  • It is prohibited for staff members to abuse the power that is inherent to their position for their own advantage or for the advantage of their friends or relatives.
  • No staff member of Akvo will offer, seek or accept remuneration, compensation or benefit of any type that could be interpreted as an illegal or corrupt practice from any other party. Any such practices will be a valid reason for dismissal.
  • Staff members are not allowed to accept any personal gifts from beneficiaries or partner organisations and their employees, in the form of money, goods or services that exceed the value of 50 Euros.
  • Where contracts for services are realised with the input of staff members, they should be fair, in writing, in the standard Akvo format, and signed by all parties involved.

Conflicts of interest

Cases may occur where personal and professional (Akvo) interests are in conflict with each other, especially in the area of service delivery and professional contracts.

  • Staff members working for Akvo are not allowed to negotiate and to sign contracts and agreements between their relatives and Akvo.
  • Staff members with their own business or financial interests in certain companies are not allowed to sign contracts between Akvo and these companies under any circumstances.
  • As soon as a staff member suspects that a possible conflict of interest may occur, this should be discussed with the staff member’s supervisor. Akvo will, while striving for fairness and impartiality, do everything in its power to prevent staff members from (financial) harm.
  • Staff members are not allowed to maintain a conflict of interest.

Use of Akvo knowledge

Akvo’s staff members are not allowed to make use of non-public institutional knowledge for their own personal or commercial goals.

Weapons

Akvo forbids its staff members from carrying, using or possessing weapons, or having weapons present in the vehicles that transport Akvo staff members.

Alcohol and illegal drugs

  • Staff members are under no circumstances allowed to execute their work while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, whether legal or illegal, that might diminish their capacity to execute their work as may be expected. This excludes drugs taken for medical purposes.
  • In all places where the possession and/or consumption of alcohol and drugs is forbidden, staff members are not allowed to use or keep them.

Sexual behaviour

Akvo expects its staff members to observe a high standard of decorum and decency when it comes to sexual relationships.

  • Despite local regulations, Akvo forbids any sexual contact or sexual relationship with persons younger than 18 years of age. An incorrect estimation of age is no acceptable excuse.
  • Sexual relationships with beneficiaries of Akvo programmes, or persons employed by organisations or companies that Akvo maintains a working relationship with, are not permitted.
  • Staff members working for Akvo are not allowed to obtain sexual services for money or by any other means of exchange.
  • Staff members working for Akvo are never allowed to exploit or abuse direct or indirect beneficiaries of Akvo.

For an in-depth explanation, see Akvo’s Protection against Sexual Harassment, Exploitation and Abuse Policy.

 

Fulfilment of this code of conduct

Akvo ensures that its staff members know about and adhere to this Code of Conduct. Anyone who does not fulfil this code will be subject to disciplinary measures, to be decided by the Managing Director(s). Ultimately, this could lead to the dismissal of the staff member in question.

In the event of an Akvo staff member observing a colleague breaching the rules of this Code of Conduct, the staff member concerned should discuss the issue with their colleague where possible. Open dialogue can prevent further escalation.

If this is not possible, staff members observing a breach of the Code of Conduct should report this to his/her manager or hand in a complaint (see integrity reporting system).

Making a report

Anyone has the right to make a complaint about the behaviour of those associated with Akvo and its programmes, including inappropriate behaviour from employees, contractors, interns or volunteers, according to Akvo’s Code of Conduct and our integrity reporting system.

We recommend that complaints be made within three months of an incident taking place. We recognise that this may not always be possible or likely with allegations of a sensitive nature. Accordingly, an investigation can go ahead no matter how long ago an incident occurred and whether or not the alleged victim wishes to take an active part in the investigation.

Sanctions and disciplinary measures

Anyone who has breached the Code of Conduct is liable to any of the following sanctions:

  • Verbal or written warning
  • Adverse performance evaluation
  • Reduction in wages
  • Transfer
  • Demotion
  • Suspension
  • Dismissal

The nature of the sanctions will depend on the gravity and extent of the offence. Suitable deterrent sanctions will be applied. Serious cases, including physical violence, will result in the immediate dismissal of the staff member in question.

In the event of someone unintentionally breaching the Code of Conduct, and then mentioning this to his or her supervisor as soon as they recognise the potential breach, this will be taken into account in deciding which measures should be taken.

In the event of a staff member working for Akvo breaching (or being suspected of breaching) the rules and regulations of a country, he/she may be subjected to criminal or civil prosecution. The costs accrued for this legal support will initially be borne by Akvo. However, if it is proven that the staff member has intentionally and knowingly breached the rules and regulations of a country through his/her own personal actions, the staff member will have to bear the financial consequences. Costs made will be invoiced to the staff member concerned.

The policy statement

Akvo is committed to providing a safe environment for all of its staff, free from discrimination on any grounds. Akvo operates a zero-tolerance policy towards any form of discrimination in the workplace, treats all incidents seriously, and promptly investigates all allegations of discrimination. Any person found to have discriminated against another will face disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from employment.

All complaints of discrimination will be taken seriously and treated with respect and in confidence. No one will be victimised for making such a complaint.

 

Discrimination

Discrimination is treating, or proposing to treat, someone unfavourably because of a personal characteristic protected by international human rights.

 

Non-discrimination statement

The Akvo Foundation is committed to promoting equality of opportunity for all staff members and job applicants. We aim to create a working environment in which all individuals are able to best make use of their skills, free from discrimination, and in which decisions are based on merit.

The principles of non-discrimination and equality of opportunity also apply to the way in which staff treat visitors, clients, customers, suppliers, partners and former staff members.

Akvo seeks to support organisations that are in line with our non-discrimination policy. Akvo may terminate its provision of services to organisations that are found to unlawfully discriminate through the use of those services and/or through their hiring practices.

All staff have a duty to act in accordance with this policy, to treat colleagues with dignity at all times, and not to discriminate against or harass other members of staff.

Discrimination can occur:

Directly, when a person or group is treated less favourably than another person or group in a similar situation because of a personal characteristic protected by law (see list below).

Indirectly, when an unreasonable requirement, condition or practise is imposed that has, or is likely to have, the effect of disadvantaging people with a personal characteristic.

Protected personal characteristics include:

  • A disability, disease or injury, including work-related injury
  • Parental status or status as a carer, for example, someone who is responsible for caring for children or other family members
  • Race, descent, national origin, or ethnic background
  • Age, whether young or old
  • Gender, intersex status, or gender identity, including transsexual or transgender
  • Religion
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • Sexual orientation, including gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer and heterosexual
  • Marital status, whether married, divorced, unmarried or in a de facto relationship or same sex relationship
  • Political opinion
  • Social origin
  • Medical record

If someone is being bullied because of a personal characteristic, it is a form of discrimination. Bullying can take many forms, including jokes, teasing, nicknames, emails, pictures, text messages, social isolation, being ignored, or unfair work practices.

The policy statement

Akvo recognises our obligation and responsibility to operate in a manner consistent with the fundamental principles of human rights and we are committed to the prevention of and response to sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse. Akvo recognises that sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse of vulnerable people is a global phenomenon and from our own and others’ experience, it is clear that working in development can entail dealing with these issues. It is vital that sexual exploitation and abuse are not perpetrated or compounded by those who Akvo employs. It is crucial that we all understand the problem of sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse and our own role and responsibility in preventing it. Staff members need to consider how their sexual conduct might cause serious harm to others and bring Akvo into disrepute.

 

Scope

This policy applies to all staff members, volunteers, consultants, interns, contractors, representatives and those connected to Akvo.

 

Definitions of sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse

Akvo defines the term sexual harassment and exploitation as any actual or attempted abuse of a person in a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust for sexual purposes including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically. The term sexual abuse means actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force, coercion or under unequal conditions. It includes situations where a person is asked to engage in sexual activity as a condition of that person’s employment, as well as situations which create an environment which is hostile, intimidating or humiliating for the recipient.

Anyone can be a victim of sexual harassment, regardless of the sex, age, gender or sexual orientation of any of the persons involved. What matters is that the sexual conduct is unwanted and unwelcome by the person against whom the conduct is directed.

Akvo has a zero-tolerance stance on exploitative and abusive relationships. We will also not tolerate behaviour that endangers the security of staff members or the organisation or brings either into disrepute. It follows, therefore, that staff members should have:

  • No sexual contact with children under the age of 18, mistaken belief of age being no defence.
  • No transactional sexual contact with Akvo beneficiaries, clients or staff of Akvo partners.

 

Policy in practice

As per this Protection against Sexual Harassment, Exploitation and Abuse policy (PHSEA), Akvo will not tolerate sexual harassment, abuse or exploitation being perpetrated by our employees, contractors, volunteers or anyone associated with the delivery of our programmes. Employees and managers are bound to uphold this policy and to report people or incidents that they believe contravene it. Akvo managers and Akvo corporate leadership have a duty to ensure that allegations of sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse are investigated and that appropriate disciplinary measures are taken. Akvo also has a duty to provide appropriate assistance to any victims of sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse by our staff.

Our responsibilities

It is the responsibility of our managers, employees and anyone who works with us to report incidences of sexual exploitation and abuse being perpetrated by anyone within Akvo. Managers, in particular, are responsible for creating and maintaining an environment in which staff members, interns and contractors know what Akvo expects from them and feel able to report any suspicious or inappropriate behaviour.

Making a report

Anyone has the right to make a complaint about the behaviour of those associated with Akvo and its programmes including any inappropriate behaviour of other employees or volunteers according to Akvo’s Code of Conduct and our integrity reporting system.
We recommend that complaints be made within three months of an incident taking place. We recognise that this may not always be possible or likely with allegations of such a sensitive nature. An investigation can go ahead no matter how long ago an incident occurred and whether or not the alleged victim wishes to take an active part in the investigation.

Investigations

Akvo will investigate allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse involving Akvo staff and partners in a timely and professional manner and will engage professional external investigators or secure investigative expertise as appropriate if needed. More detailed information can be found in Akvo’s integrity reporting system.

Akvo Foundation investigators are free to handle a case of PHSEA without reporting to anyone else in the country office when necessary. Akvo reserves the right to act or not to act on any information provided. The organisation is not required to disclose its response or the actions resulting from any information that may be provided or reported. The safety of participants and colleagues will always prevail. The intentional misreporting of information is subject to disciplinary action.

Victim assistance

Victims will receive immediate support as necessary. The support provided will be in line with the wishes and needs of the victim and to levels deemed appropriate locally and according to professional staff.

Consequences

Employees who contravene Akvo’s clearly stated expectations of their sexual conduct will be subject to disciplinary action that may result in dismissal. Interns and volunteers will have their relationship with Akvo terminated. Contractors who contravene our expectations will have their contract ended.
Investigations are an internal administrative process and will therefore not necessarily involve the police or judiciary. Investigations are carried out so that Akvo can have the best information possible on which to base its decisions concerning employee conduct and the consequences thereof.
We might then alert the appropriate authorities if, following an investigation, we judge that:

  • A crime has taken place
  • Confidentiality can be ensured
  • The victim is in agreement, and
  • Those associated with the case will not be subject to further abuse, disrespect or violence.

Partners must disclose to Akvo if their employees contravene the Protection against Sexual Harassment, Exploitation and Abuse policy and they must conduct appropriate investigations. Failure to do so may result in the termination of the relationship with Akvo.

 

Training and learning

Akvo will ensure awareness of our corporate code of conduct including the PSHEA on orientation for all new and existing staff. We will give introduction sessions to new hires and additional internal workshops and training will be implemented as appropriate or as policies are updated.

HR will keep a record of incident reports from which trends in behaviour, investigation outcomes and problems will be regularly analysed.

Akvo is an organisation in which diversity and respect are key values. There is no room for discrimination, aggression, sexual harassment, exploitation or abuse. This applies to behaviour between Akvo staff members and between Akvo staff members and our external contacts. Akvo staff members hold a responsibility to respect the rights of beneficiaries and partner staff members at all times.

All complaints of corruption, discrimination sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse will be taken seriously and treated with respect and in confidence. No one will be victimised for making such a complaint.

We always encourage people to speak up. If possible, directly to the person who breached the Code of Conduct. Inform him/her that the behaviour and the conduct is unwanted and unwelcome. Akvo recognises that this is not always possible. Issues surrounding discrimination or sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse may occur in unequal relationships (i.e. between a supervisor and his/her employee) and it may not be possible for the victim to inform the alleged harasser.

If there is not a possibility to discuss the issue directly with the person involved, staff members can make a complaint. This guideline explains what you can do if you want to report a situation where Akvo’s Code of Conduct, including the Non-Discrimination policy and the Protection against Sexual Harassment, Exploitation and Abuse policy (PSHEA), has been breached. Akvo’s integrity reporting system can be used for any violation of the Code of Conduct, including discrimination, corruption, sexual harassment, sexual abuse and exploitation.

 

Reporting channels

Akvo’s reporting system consists of two channels through which complaints and violations can be reported by victims or witnesses. When either of these two channels is used, this results in a formal complaint.

Channel one: Management
The first channel through which violations can be reported is management. This may be the staff’s own line manager or the management team (MT). When an integrity violation is reported to management, it is not possible to protect the identity of the person making that report. Every manager is required to forward the report to the MT or to the director(s). The manager should also inform the integrity officer (see below).

Channel two: Integrity officer
The second channel is through the integrity officer. An integrity officer is somebody appointed in Akvo who can coordinate an integrity investigation. This is a different role than that of the confidential counsellors.

People who do not work directly for Akvo but want to report a complaint about an Akvo staff member are also invited to discuss the complaint with the person involved and with his/her reporting manager. If this is not possible, external persons can directly report a complaint to integrity@akvo.org. The complaint will be handled according to the Investigation Protocol in Appendix 1.

 

How to report

If you have decided to make a report, we ask that you provide your name and contact information so that we can better assess the allegations and follow-up with you to address your concerns. If you choose not to provide your name or contact information, you may file your report anonymously. Please note that anonymous reports may be subject to legal limitations.

Please be sure to include the following information with your complaint:

  • All facts describing the alleged event, issue, or matter
  • The name and title of each person involved
  • Dates, times, frequency and locations
  • Facts relevant to urgency, and
  • Documentation, witnesses, or other evidence available to support the allegation, including any laws or policies believed to be breached.

You can use the five Ws to help remember what to report: Who, What, When, Where, and Why.
Please keep in mind that those who initially read your complaint or those who investigate it may not be familiar with your local context or local laws, so the more detail you are able to provide, the better.

 

Where to report

Akvo encourages all staff members to first speak to their manager or local human resources representative when they have concerns about misconduct or a policy violation, as this is typically the best method for addressing problems and allows the appropriate management to take action.

In cases where a person has been discouraged from reporting to their local manager or may fear for their job or wellbeing, the intergity@akvo.org email is available. All emails sent to this address will be processed by the integrity officer.

Please see appendix 1 for more detail on the investigation protocol.

 

The investigation

Preliminary investigation
When the integrity officer receives a report through either of the two channels described above (via the management or via integrity@akvo.org), he/she will launch a preliminary investigation in consultation with the Board of Directors.

The purpose is to determine whether a disciplinary investigation is warranted or whether alternative actions are more appropriate. The first question addressed by the integrity officer is whether there is a possibility of a violation. The integrity officer will determine whether there is a possibility of a violation and assess the strength of the evidence. Finally, he/she will assess whether the severity of the alleged offence and the appropriate disciplinary action/punishment justifies the cost (including reputational damage) of a full investigation.

Investigation
If the integrity officer decides that an investigation is warranted, he/she will advise the board of directors accordingly. This advice will include the findings of the preliminary investigation, nominate persons (internal or external) to undertake the investigation (complaints board) and, where appropriate, state the required budget. It will also set out the terms of reference and the questions to be answered by the investigation.

If the integrity officer does not conduct the investigation him/herself, but instructs others (internal or external) to do so, these people will make up the so-called complaint board. Who will be appointed to the complaint board depends on the complaint and the people involved.

The integrity officer will nevertheless oversee and coordinate the process, including monitoring progress and the budget, assessing the quality of the work and products, and requiring the investigators to account for their methodology and conclusions. Once the investigation has been completed, he/she will present the internal report to the Board of Directors accompanied by his/her own conclusions and recommendations.

If the investigation is particularly complex, it will almost certainly be necessary to call upon external assistance. The choice of consultant or agency will depend on the nature of the alleged offence.

Investigation protocol
All investigations (whether internal or external) must be conducted according to a set protocol that establishes the rights, responsibilities and authority of the investigators while also protecting the rights of all parties. See appendix 1.

No investigation is conducted
The preliminary investigation may conclude that a full disciplinary investigation is not warranted. However, this does not mean that no further action will be taken. It may be appropriate to conduct a risk analysis or a reconstruction in order to draw lessons for the future. Forms of restorative justice may be applied to mitigate the injury, loss or damage suffered by the victim.

Disciplinary action/punishment
Investigations are an internal administrative process and would therefore not necessarily involve the police or judiciary. Investigations are carried out so that Akvo can have the best information possible on which to base its decisions concerning employee conduct and consequences thereof.

The board of directors makes the final decision with regard to the imposition of any disciplinary action/punishment.

Akvo might alert the appropriate authorities if, following an investigation, we judge that:

  • A crime has taken place
  • Confidentiality can be ensured
  • The victim is in agreement, and
  • Those associated with the case will not be subject to further abuse, disrespect or violence.

If the investigation concludes that an employee has indeed committed an integrity violation, a recommendation regarding the appropriate disciplinary action/punishment will be produced by an external or internal legal specialist. This person must take account of case law in order to ensure the proportionality and consistency of disciplinary actions. The recommendation is then submitted to the director.

 

The confidential counsellors

In case you need (victim) support and/or you do not know if you should make a complaint, Akvo staff can always reach out to a confidential counsellor.

Akvo has two confidential counsellors appointed. The role of the confidential counsellor (see appendix 2 for a detailed protocol) is to provide first-line support to any member of staff who has been the victim of, or witness to, a violation. All conversations with the confidential counsellor are held in the strictest confidence. This must be expressly stated in the documents that establish the role of the confidential counsellor within the organisation. A conversation with a confidential counsellor can have several aims.

In the first instance, it is an opportunity for the staff concerned to tell their story. The conversation will then seek to clarify the nature of that issue. Is it a staff conflict, a moral protest, a moral misgiving, or an actual integrity violation?

The next step will be to determine the appropriate follow-up action. The interests of the victim or witness are always paramount. It is important to ensure that the staff concerned receives appropriate support in making his/her decisions. It must always be possible for the employee to withdraw a complaint or decline to take further action.

Finally, the confidential counsellor may refer the staff member to:

  • The reporting system - reporting the violation via one of the three channels
  • HR in connection with any employment conflict
  • HR for assistance such as victim support or coaching

Under no circumstances may a confidential counsellor also act as the reporting point within the formal reporting system. This would deny the employee the opportunity of deciding not to report the incident, and would also make it more difficult to make referrals to other sources of assistance.

 

Appendix 1. Investigation protocol

For internal and external complaints

  1. The complaint is submitted in writing to the integrity officer (where necessary, with the assistance of the confidential counsellor).
  2. The notice of complaint/application contains the name of the complainant, the name of the accused, a description of the complaint, the measures taken to date by the complainant, and the documents (evidence) related to the complaint.
  3. A complaint board will be appointed by the integrity officer.
  4. The complainant will receive confirmation that the complaint was received within two weeks.
  5. The complaints board shall rule on whether the complaint has grounds within four weeks.
  6. If it is found that the complaint has grounds, the accused shall receive a copy of the complaint within four weeks.
  7. The accused shall have the opportunity to send a written defence to the complaints board within two weeks of receiving the complaint.
  8. Both the complainant and the accused are interviewed by the complaints board. The complainant and the accused are interviewed in each other’s presence during a hearing, unless the complaints board has well-founded reasons for interviewing them separately.
  9. The board is also authorized to interview other parties. Every person that falls under the scope of the Code of Conduct must respond to the complaints board’s request for an interview.
  10. The complaints board compiles a report of every hearing and sends it to the complainant/accused within two weeks of that session, as well as to other persons that were interviewed; the complainant and the accused have the opportunity to voice their opinion of the report to the board at a session to which the complainant and the accused are invited. These sessions are conducted separately.
  11. Once they are approved by the complainant or the accused, the other party is given the opportunity to read the reports.
  12. The complaints board’s sessions are held in private.
  13. The complaints board rules, providing reasons, on the grounds of the complaint within two months of receiving the complaint. The complaints board can extend that period by four weeks, after informing the complainant and the accused of that extension. The board can provide advice and recommendations in its ruling on the measures to be taken.
  14. The complaints board presents a report on the hearings, together with its ruling on the legitimacy of the complaint, to the executive director of Akvo and sends a copy to the complainant and the accused; in cases where the accused is the director, the report with its ruling will be sent to the supervisory board.
  15. The complaints board sends a copy of the ruling to the parties concerned.
  16. The party ultimately responsible (the employer) reaches a decision on the steps and measures to be taken or the sanctions to be applied within two weeks of the board’s ruling.

 

Appendix 2. Protocol for confidential counsellors

When someone reports to the confidential counsellor, (s)he will:

  1. Listen to the alleged victim or witness and create a trustworthy environment. Their main role is to provide first line support, ensure that the victim is heard and he/she can speak up.
  2. Record the dates, times and facts of the incident(s), no names.
  3. Ascertain you understand the need of the alleged victim.
  4. Finally, the confidential counsellor may refer the staff member to:
    1. The reporting system - reporting the violation via one of the two channels
    2. HR in connection with any employment conflict
    3. HR for assistance such as victim support or coaching
  5. If the staff member wants to make a formal report, ensure that the alleged victim understands Akvo’s procedures for dealing with the report.
  6. Keep a confidential record of all discussions.
  7. Respect the choice of the alleged victim.
  8. Plan a follow up call if needed, most of the time the alleged victim needs time to make decisions.
  9. Send an anonymous report to the Board of Directors - describe in brief, based on facts, and without names or any point of reference:
    1. What was the nature of the complaint (harassment, discrimination or corruption)
    2. What actions you have taken (e.g. talking with the alleged victim)
    3. The outcomes of the actions (e.g. the alleged victim wishes to deal with the matter informally)

Under no circumstances may a confidential counsellor also act as the reporting point within the formal reporting system. This would deny the employee the opportunity of deciding not to report the incident, and would also make it more difficult to make referrals to other sources of assistance.

For a more detailed explanation of the role of the confidential counsellor, watch this video: https://youtu.be/Drz_ts65pks

Akvo’s security policy is intended to ensure the safety and security of Akvo employees, contractors, family members authorised to accompany Akvo staff during work activities and third parties.We aim to provide the same level of security and protection for our partners and third parties as we do for our own staff. 

The policy consists of several components:

  • Travel policy (including a checklist for travelling Akvo staff)
  • Crisis management protocol
  • Incident report format
  • Evacuation plan for staff that are abroad
  • A roadmap meant to help make decisions concerning travelling to foreign countries.

 

1. Basic Risk Factors

There are 11 basic risk factors which have been proven to influence the probability of an incident. It is necessary to discover the underlying causes of accidents at an early stage, and to implement appropriate risk reduction measures, in order to reduce the effects and chance of an incident. Every factor is analysed for its relevance to Akvo. Some basic risk factors are merged in this policy and others have been omitted, because they are unrelated to Akvo’s work processes.

The eleven basis risk factors that affect the risk of an accident are:

  • Design of equipment and tools
  • Quality of equipment and tools
  • Presence, comprehensiveness and accuracy of instructions and procedures
  • Physical operating conditions such as temperature and noise
  • Daily maintenance (order and cleanliness) of the workplace
  • Proficiency and experience of staff
  • Conflicting goals (safety versus production)
  • Communication
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Management of maintenance
  • Presence and operation of controls and protections.

The seven risk factors that are described in this policy are:

  1. Design and quality of Akvo equipment, tools and vehicles
  2. Presence and comprehensiveness of instructions, policies and protocols
  3. Physical operating conditions including workplace conditions
  4. Proficiency and experience of staff
  5. Safety versus production
  6. Communication
  7. Organisation structure.

Akvo will keep analysing and updating these factors according to our own experience.

1.1 Design and quality of Akvo equipment, tools, vehicles and road safety

Akvo does not use machines with moving parts in its processes. The only machines Akvo uses regularly are computers and mobile phones and they do not present a relevant security risk to Akvo’s employees.

However, when Akvo personnel travel abroad, vehicles (taxis, buses, trains, etc.) could cause dangerous situations if they are not properly driven or maintained. Drivers can cause dangerous situations if they do not respect local traffic laws. Akvo staff should be aware of the state of the vehicles in which they travel, and if possible, avoid using poorly maintained vehicles. Paying attention to safe travelling by car really reduces the risk of an incident because car accidents are the greatest risk to aid workers in developing countries.

Regarding office safety, Akvo equips its offices throughout the world according to local laws. If there are no local laws (or laws are incomprehensive), the minimum level of safety of an office will be based on Dutch regulation.

1.2 Comprehensiveness and presence of instructions, policies and protocols

Akvo will always take responsibility for its staff members. This means we will provide clear procedures and instructions to staff. All documents should be clear and understandable for every team member and partner. Every Akvo employee will be instructed on how to execute their work in a safe and secure way. Akvo has a crisis management and evacuation plan in place so that there can be an accurate response in case of an emergency situation. In case of a crisis, everyone should know his or her role. And after such a situation, everyone should know what steps to take in order to get back to normal working conditions.

1.3 Physical operating conditions including workplace conditions

Akvo prioritises team members’ health above work commitments and takes responsibility for its members’ health during work and work-related travel. Akvo will ensure its staff are protected as far as reasonably possible against diseases or other health-endangering factors.

Staying healthy while traveling requires more than just getting vaccinated. When you are in an unusual environment the probability of getting ill is higher than when you are in your home environment. The main causes of illness are bad hygiene, bad food and getting bitten by mosquitoes.

1.4 Proficiency and experience of staff

Akvo team members should be aware of the risks they encounter when they travel for work. Akvo takes responsibility for the security of its team members. This means that Akvo recommends team members who often travel to developing countries for Akvo should participate in security training. A security refresher session will be held at each Akvo Team Week in order to update and remind team members of security issues and how to deal with them. Every year, the Akvo management team discusses the incident reports of the previous year and any security problems encountered. New staff members should read the Security policy and will receive a short presentation about the risks of travelling.

1.5 Safety versus production

The safety of Akvo staff always comes first. This means that no unnecessary risks will be taken and Akvo will support decisions made by team members to prioritise safety above production and assets. This applies not only to the safety of our own staff and contractors, but also to third parties. Akvo will try to prevent unintended harm to other people.

1.6 Communication

Akvo staff communicate with other team members, partners and the outside world using various different media such as email, Skype and Twitter. In case of emergency, the Akvo Crisis management team will deploy a controlled communication strategy to provide proper and thorough communication to Akvo team members and outside parties. Every team member should be aware of the sensitivity of information in crisis situations and should handle information with care. Akvo team members should only share information about a crisis situation after being granted permission by the Communications manager of the Crisis management team. Important decisions in a crisis situation will be recorded and made available for future reference.

1.7 Roles and responsibilities

In case of a duty trip, working time will usually be considered to be beyond the actual working hours. Therefore this Security policy applies 24/7 to Akvo members when they are on a work-related trip.

Whenever Akvo team members go to an area of their own choice, which has no relationship with Akvo working activities and is not part of their work for Akvo, Akvo will not take responsibility for any incidents. If an employee wants to combine a holiday with a work trip, a clear moment in time needs to be agreed upon that separates the holiday from the Akvo trip. 

Akvo holds the right at all times to withdraw a member from an area or country.

 

2. Evacuations

In the case of a sudden dangerous situation, staff may need to be evacuated. In such a case, they will be brought to a safe location nearby, or in case of a longer-term situation, to a suitable Akvo office. Local staff members and their families will be evacuated to safe areas within the region.

 

3. Travel decisions

Akvo staff should not travel to any location unless it meets the basic security requirements described in the Akvo travel decision model. 

 

4. Code of conduct

Akvo’s Code of conduct ensures our standards of efficiency, mutual respect, professional conduct and safety. Every member of Akvo should be aware of the following points outlined in the Code of conduct and take them into account in their work:

Respect and care for our partners

Akvo has a professional approach to partners and clients. We respect foreign cultures, religions and other habits and provide an open working environment in which everyone can develop themselves. All team members act as representatives of Akvo and should be aware of this in their behaviour, especially when they are travelling for Akvo. Team members should always put their own safety and that of their companions above work obligations.

Respect for culture and customs

Akvo team members should respect the laws, culture and customs of the country they are in. In particular, dress codes, religion, alcohol usage and other restrictions. Some topics that can be seen as controversial (e.g. narcotics, abortion, faith and politics) must be treated with sensitivity.