Above: participants on the Akvo FLOW training course in Accra for WASH Alliance partners. 8 October 2015.
Below: trying out new field data collection skills during the workshop in a village near Tamale. 8 October 2015. Photos by Annabelle Poelert.
I made it my personal mission to find out as much as possible about the challenges we face in implementing and monitoring development projects and to learn more about the political situation in Ghana. Needless to say, both have a huge overlap. While we visit a school to pilot our survey on WASH in schools, the headmaster tells me about the problems they face as a rural school. While WASH facilities are improved, he admits that a lack of school meals makes it impossible for some of the kids to attend their classes. Where one problem is solved, another one simply seems to appear.
When we get back to the hotel my colleague confirms that food insecurity remains a big challenge in the North of Ghana. Although a big food in schools programme has been launched, many kids are still not guaranteed to get meals in school. A lot of aid money from foreign donors never reaches the people it was supposed to reach. It seems corruption is always lurking in the shadows of aid initiatives.
This doesn’t come as a surprise to me, but it makes an even bigger impact to hear these words from someone that has witnessed it first hand. However, Barnabas ensures me that with better monitoring systems it becomes much harder for corrupt aid workers to keep up appearances. He’s very enthusiastic about the capacity of Akvo FLOW to capture not just sample data, but details of all of the WASH facilities that are supposed to be built. It is great to hear he feels that we really make a difference.
Above: Akvo FLOW is being used in Ghana to record data measuring the impact of the past five years of the WASH Alliance’s work in the country.
As the plane takes off, I look back at a very special week. I’m exhausted and happy at the same time. It might be a small solution to a big problem, but I’m confident that 20 new and motivated people will contribute to transparency and knowledge about the aid effectiveness of our programmes. Also, I leave Ghana with 20 new friends, liking my job more than ever.
Annabelle Poelert is project officer at Akvo, based in Amsterdam. You can follow her on Twitter @AnnabellePoel.