SNV & Akvo: Mapping & monitoring rural water systems in Laos


In 2014, SNV in Lao PDR partnered with Akvo, an organisation that builds open source internet and mobile software, designed to support international development and increase aid transparency and effectiveness. This project is part of SNV and Akvo’s global partnership to scale the use of mobile-based monitoring of water, sanitation, and hygiene services.

The software that SNV uses for data collection on rural water systems in Laos is called Akvo FLOW (Field Level Operational Watch), a mobile online service that uses Android smartphones as field monitoring tools. Akvo FLOW is particularly meant for use in remote and diverse locations, and seeks to improve upon traditional data collection methods, which can be cumbersome and time consuming in developing contexts. Having this more accurate data can help monitor and evaluate the functionality of rural water supplies, inform decision makers on more sustainable investments, and make it faster and easier to share the results.

Using smart phones, the SNV team used this innovative Akvo technology to build a Water System Mapping and Monitoring System, beginning with a baseline in Savannakhet. The team uses the app for field surveys, using GPS to accurately mark water-point locations, and enter additional relevant management information about each water-point. Back in the office, Akvo’s internet-based data management tools allow the team to analyse the information and create maps on functionality of rural water-points in the area. The process of water-point mapping can be seen in the following photostory.

So far SNV has used the application in all villages in Atsaphone and Phin districts in Savannakhet, and collected information on 1095 public water systems. The WASH team analysed and interpreted the data and experimented with visualizing the results in various maps to make the information clearer and easier to understand. Lack of appropriate data on the functionality of water systems is currently one of the major obstacles hindering progress in upgrading the quality of public rural water supplies in Laos. Through this intervention, SNV Laos developed an accurate and appropriate monitoring and mapping system for its two programme districts in Savannakhet province.