Blog: How we work. A peek behind the scenes!

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It’s been 3 months since our Launch Conference in South Africa. The dust has settled and our partners are back home to continue their work. In organizing the conference, we launched the AfriAlliance project on the African continent. At the same time, it was actually the first time several partners in the consortium met each other face to face. Well over one year into the project, we’re typically what is called a virtual team. We are in daily communication with each other using multiple online tools: email and whatsapp for quick questions, ProjectPlace for sharing and co-creating documents, and telco’s for discussing progress and challenges.

While working together online has it perks, seeing our partners in South Africa reminded us about the power of meeting face to face. We had the opportunity to have everyday conversations on the coffee run (“How did you sleep? Where did you get those shoes?”) and conversations on each other’s lives (from holiday plans to family issues). We also found out that some of us are great dancers (especially after a couple of drinks), runners (10K in the early morning) and navigators (finding back the hotel after dinner). It’s these personal relationships or ‘working friendships’ that create a team and that can help you get through a rough day or challenging phase of the project.

Therefore, we’re trying to change things up in the second year of the AfriAlliance project by meeting up F2F periodically, plenary and also in smaller constellations. Last month, representatives from OIEau came to IHE Delft to work with IHE staff on concepts and definitions. These were great and productive days that resulted in a draft Social Innovation Factsheet which will be available on this website soon. Akvo hosted a writing workshop in Amsterdam late May with representatives from ITC and IHE to work on the online inventory of water resources monitoring and forecasting – also coming to this site soon!

Besides organising our own standalone meetups, we’re also increasing our efforts to inventorize which partner is going to what external event. If the opportunity arises, we try to come together to get work done on the project. For example, at the Water Innovation Europe Conference, mid-June in Brussels organised by WssTP, several AfriAlliance partners and Advisory Board members teamed up (see photo). Next month, representatives from WE&B will be in Ghana hosting an AfriAlliance workshop at AfWA’s 77th Scientific Council, which is also a great chance to catch up. At the Stockholm World Water Week in August, more than half of our partners will be present – so we will seize this opportunity for another F2F meeting. And by the way, this overview of water and climate change related events (and attendance of AA partners) is available on our website!

What else is new? The post you’re reading now is! It is the first in a series of AfriAlliance blog posts written by AfrAlliance partners. Every month, one of the partners will take a turn. As such, we hope to provide a better understanding of who we are and what we do, and to enhance the AfriAlliance website. The website is work in progress and some cool new features are planned for this year. Stay tuned!

AfriAlliance partners & Advisory Board members at Water Innovation Europe 2017. Standing from left to right: Gilles Neveu (OIEau), David Smith (WE&B), Maria Mirachtsi (WssTP), Capucine Beunes Devauze (SUEZ), Uta Wehn (IHE Delft), Richard Elelman (Netwerk H20). Sitting from left to right: Durk Krol (WssTP), Gaetano Casale (IHE Delft).

This blog was written by Meike Remmers and Uta Wehn of IHE Delft. The AfriAlliance partners take turns. Come back next month for a new blog!