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Published on: 13/03/2012

“We will complement each other and create a win-win situation through this collaboration”, said IRC Director Nico Terra when signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Akvo Foundation on 13 March at the 6th World Water Forum in Marseilles. “We have known each other for quite a while”. IRC and Akvo, alongside with SIWI, have already worked together successfully by running the WaterCube video project with more than 450 short water and sanitation related interviews online.

The formal agreement with Akvo for the next three years will help ensure both organisations learn and complement each other.” IRC is specifically keen in partnering with Akvo and the foundation’s expertise and experiences with open source mobile and internet tools to change the way development collaboration and water and sanitation financing in the developing world is reported, monitored and evaluated. 

Five areas of collaboration

Already, over 500 organisations are using the Akvo platform to visualise projects with a total value of over €32 million, reaching more than 1.9 million people. The two organisations will collaborate specifically in five areas:

  • Programmes
  • Akvo FLOW
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Marketing and promotion
  • Sharing of resources and structures 

In their programmes the two organisations are planning to cooperate specifically in West Africa. IRC wants to look into possibilities of using Akvo’s tools and social media approach more for information and knowledge sharing in multi-stakeholder projects, mainly to increase transparency and for monitoring purposes. At the same time, Akvo wants to learn from IRC’s water and sanitation expertise for adapting its tools to the situation in countries in which both organisations are working.

Nico Terra and Peter van der Linde at signing ceremony. Photo IRC, 2012

Akvo FLOW (Field Level Operations Watch) Akvo’s latest product is an integrated platform to collect, analyse and display geographically-referenced monitoring and evaluation (M&E) data, such as using mobile phones to assess the status of water points. Such monitoring and reporting tools have the potential for becoming robust field operating systems with user-friendly reporting and analysing capabilities, in whose further development IRC will be involved providing expertise in M&E in the water sector. Both organisations share the objective to develop and kick start the use of better M&E tools in some large-scale knowledge and research programmes in WASH.

The third area, knowledge sharing in the WASH sector, is a main activity of IRC. While maintaining its traditional role of knowledge broker, IRC and Akvo look into possibilities of data collection, data mining, data integration and the uptake of the generated data sets and knowledge into policy making in the water sector. Together IRC and Akvo can open up existing knowledge data sets, field experience etc. making use of Akvo’s open water and sanitation wiki focused on smart and affordable technical solutions and effective approaches –Akvopedia - in order to reach out to a larger audience. 

Marketing and promoting each other’s work and expertise is the fourth area in which the two organisations will collaborate and support each other. More activities such as joint seminars and presentations are foreseen. In the USA, IRC and Akvo have started to work fruitfully together in marketing and fundraising.

In focus regions such as West Africa (Ghana, Burkina Faso), East Africa (Uganda) and Asia (India, Bangladesh) where IRC already is working, both organisations will explore possibilities of sharing local resources such as offices and training facilities, trainers and materials. 

“To get started, a number of meetings are already foreseen throughout 2012” explains Nico Terra. 

Watch this space for updates on IRC-Akvo activities!

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