DORP has been using Akvo RSR since 2012 but recently the project staff at field level received equipment (smartphones) that lets them update their activities regularly and they have all now been trained. They became inspired after receiving training and from then they started to share their regular practices online.
Why is DORP using Akvo RSR?
Akvo RSR is a platform for sharing knowledge and information about our best practices and project progress with everyone involved and interested. DORP is using Akvo RSR to give updates on project activities regularly and to give them online visibility. There is a lot of scope to share our information with a wide range of audiences and tell them about our activities. Staff motivation is important to do the activities. This platform helps frontline staff to feel ownership. It also helps mid level management to understand the pathway of each project in the context of the Theory of Change. One thing we need to keep in mind is staff turnover. An enabling environment for technical support is needed and new people need to be trained on using the tool. Sharing progress with donors on a daily basis is another significant aim of using Akvo RSR. We can measure the success and monitor the progress of our activities and where we are now in Upazila, Bagerhat District in Bangladesh, as we can get regular information from the platform easily. Electricity and internet service is not smooth in rural areas of Bangladesh so using mobiles to make updates is helpful to share things instantly.
Who is using RSR?
DORP staff who have a smartphone. This can be field staff, mid level management or community support officers.
What do you do with the updates?
DORP has scaled up the project areas from 6 to 24 unions, enhancing budget-tracking and progress-monitoring for successful implementation of the project. This is being measured by Akvo RSR as it gives us a synopsis of activities being performed at field level. Akvo RSR gives us a visual view of field activities like campaigns & promotions, WASH service monitoring, lobbying & advocacy, WASH budget monitoring and capacity strengthening. DORP measures the output of these activities on a regular basis to find out which areas are in which stage of progress and if this is in line with the targets that have been set. Our central office does a daily follow up of project activities using Akvo RSR and gives feedback to all areas regarding practices.
It has also helped us achieve success as we have used Akvo RSR for advocacy purposes. In the near future the Budget Monitoring Club and NGO Network (platforms at Upazila level for advocacy of the community and service providers) could also follow project updates through RSR. This is under discussion. The comments on Akvo RSR from different stakeholders could also be helpful for the project as they could help organisations to implement changes in their activities if necessary, and could provide a way to reach more people thus creating output in a cohesive way.
Updates about project activities give us information about the changes happening at the community level. What we would like to see according to the Theory of Change is that community people become aware of the WASH budget through campaigns and promotional activities. This leads to demand for WASH services and therefore participation in the union budget process. RSR lets us monitor this change in awareness.
For whom are you writing the updates?
DORP is writing the updates for all field and central staff to share information about daily activities. Also WASH Alliance members can read the updates and they are able to incorporate our best practices into their own activities. This is why we for example share information about budget tracking workshops with them. The WASH Alliance members get updates of our activities regularly which they can also share with different network members in other ways such as seminars, workshops and conferences. People from other countries who are involved with Akvo RSR are able to read and learn about the updates instantly, which can serve as an example for them. Recently a team from Nepal consisting of two organisations visited Bangladesh to see and learn about our activities (in particular budget tracking) for their own organisations. A platform like Akvo RSR helps a lot by giving visual outputs of activities and best practices and sharing them in a timely way via a single platform.
Do you use the online platform or mobile app?
We use both mobile app and online platform.
Why does DORP think using Akvo RSR is important and how do you benefit from it?
The effectiveness of activities can be transparently shared via Akvo RSR. Regular updates help us to know whether we are on track or not to meet project objectives. It brings success to our projects thanks to the sharing of best practices across all areas. Although each area faces its own challenges related to geography, culture and socio-economic conditions, they can tackle these using examples from RSR. As field staff can see the updates from other regions they can perform activities at the same pace and overcome similar challenges. The experiences of one area can be an example for other areas so coordination improves. Akvo RSR is online so all staff can get information easily and share it with relevant community people. Updates then get further shared in different platforms at a local and national level by people or organisations involved who get to know about our activities and commend us on our best practices, which is inspiring for our staff.
For example, there is an activity in the plan called the WASH Budget Monitoring Club. This is a platform for local communities involving monthly meetings at Upazila level, which should be attended by a representative from the Department of Public Health Engineering, an Upazila Health & Family Planning Officer or an Upazila Nirbhahi Officer as a guest speaker. From the RSR updates it is clear whether there was a guest speaker present at the meeting and necessary feedback can be provided in a timely manner.
This blog was written by Zobair Hasan and colleagues from the DORP team Bangladesh