Things I’m working on this summer

I don’t often explain what I’m actually working on. Maybe I should do that a bit more often. So here goes – this is what I’m up to between now and September:

Akvo strategy

I’m working with Jeroen, Peter and Thomas at Akvo to set some communications priorities for the next twelve months. We’ve just closed another round of funding for Akvo so there’s a bank of green lights all on and waiting to be pressed. For the first time I’ll also be getting involved in Akvo planning with its board of directors, at a meeting in mid August in Sweden. I’m working too with Jo Pratt here in London to create new online and print materials that help people use the Akvo Really Simple Reporting system. I think we should also submit Akvo for some awards – I know it’s probably obvious to everyone else, but I’ve only just realised that the people who win awards tend to be the ones who enter them.


Akvo is moving into a new shared space in, wait for it, the historic Dutch West Indian Company former headquarters in Amsterdam. It’s a really interesting arrangement – we’re sharing with startups all focused on international development and poverty reduction, with a landlord who’s excited to have us around. I’m going to help organise our new space and work with the other tenants to build a brand around our combined presence. Eventually I’d like us to be running entrepreneurship and mentoring competitions, too, if I can gather enough support. You can follow some of my thinking about how this space could work starting with this piece here.

Stockholm World WaterCube

I’m leading the fourth iteration of, an event-based video concept in late August at Stockholm World Water Week. This is an international event for people working to tackle the water and sanitation issues facing the world’s poorest people. WaterCube is all about really simple video interviews, edited very quickly and brought online right away. I’m hoping that during this event we’ll cross the 500+ video interview mark – we have 300 already online. I’ve got stuff to coordinate beforehand with SIWI, the event organisers, IRC and my own gang at Akvo. And I’ll be working full time for 3 days on the Cube in late August as a reporter, too. This is our second Cube this year – after a really wonderful event in Cape Town we did in March, backed by UN Habitat.

Civic Futures – Wolverhampton

I’m working with the office of the chief executive at Wolverhampton City Council to develop a fundable proposal that will explore the future of Wolverhampton, a city in the English Midlands. The goal is to get under the skin of the city’s heritage and issues, organise a local event that attracts global and local creative talent and kick start a bunch of projects focused on mobility, smarter use of space, energy systems and better local services.

World Bank Water Hackathon

I’m advising the team at the World Bank who are organising the global Water Hackathon event series this October. I’m hoping to help them work out how to reach computer geeks who want to get involved in solving problems related to water and sanitation infrastructure and funding problems (or “challenges” as the Americans would say), especially in poorer parts of the world. This is also going to involve some other very exciting people who make me look shy and reserved.


I’m helping to launch a radical new water filtration enterprise in Bangladesh, now entering a test phase in the field. Led by Dutch social entrepreneur Frederik Claasen and backed by a consortium including Unilever Ventures, it uses photo-voltaic technology called Cap-DI to remove arsenic from the groundwater, which in Bangladesh is almost all dangerously contaminated. In May we settled on the name Sujol and this summer I’m helping get the test projects online (here), the project messaging straight and help the partners start using Akvo RSR to do project updates.

Future Perfect

I’m going to a 3 day event in Karlstad in Sweden at the end of July, to listen to ideas about the future of life, the universe and everything. The event is called Future Perfect, “The Scandinavian Festival of New Sustainable Living”. Who knows, eh?

If you want to find out more or get involved with any of these projects, ping me me via Twitter.

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