Nepal Part II: Akvo FLOW in the field


In Part II of Akvo FLOW in Nepal, Amitangshu Acharya takes us to Kavre for field-testing.

We were all geared up for the field-testing of Akvo FLOW in Sindupalchowk district the next day, however the ongoing fuel crises in Nepal almost derailed our plans. We didn’t have access to fuel, hence traveling to Sinduplachowk was out of the question.

Thankfully, Prakash Lamichhane offered his own vehicle and our group headed out to the neighboring district of Kavre. This was also my first opportunity to step outside the confines of the training hall and Kathmandu city.

The paddy-sculpted landscape did not disappoint.

Min collects data with Akvo FLOW. Photo credit: Amitangshu Acharya

On reaching Kavre we conducted data collection for 10 households. The questionnaire was rather long and, though things went smoothly, the main issue with some phones was that it took a long time to get a GPS fix.

In other cases, the screen size being small, questions were missed out. Daylight legibility of the phones also mattered. Interestingly, Min’s phone had his mobile Internet on, so he unknowingly submitted his data to the server (dashboard) by default. I figured this out when I was trying to understand why his phone was running out of juice so fast. Also, long questionnaires meant that the GPS was on throughout the one-hour marathon data collection session. This obviously drained out the battery in most of the phones.

Post data collection, we spent the night at Nagarkot, a hill station. That evening, the team got together and we had a great party where I discovered my favourite drink, thongba, (which is known as thee in Sikkim, India) a locally prepared millet beer. Needless to say, it helped me to get up and shake a leg to the tune of Min’s favourite Nepali song.

The last day of the training the trainees were asked to present Akvo FLOW, and its application to BSP Nepal’s work, to their colleagues. Without any assistance from my end, Sushrina had excavated FLOW related data from the Internet and, adding it to learnings she picked up at the training, she made a splendid presentation. Prakash, Charu, Roma, and Min all pitched in and I was perhaps the happiest person in the room that day. The presentation made quite an impression on the BSP Nepal team who immediately demanded the current team of five trainees train the rest of the staff on Akvo FLOW!

Post presentation, further training took place on uploading survey and data offline. It ended with a group exercise where the team created a feedback questionnaire on the Akvo FLOW dashboard, installed it on their phones and fed their responses and uploaded the same. I am sharing analysis of one such response in analyzed form made available through FLOW.

There is a lot left to do on Akvo FLOW for BSP Nepal. But it was a bright beginning and, if we keep the momentum, BSP Nepal has the potential to emerge as a pioneering user of Akvo FLOW in South Asia.

Amitangshu Acharya is a consultant, Asian programmes, for Akvo