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Forget RSS: is Real Simple Reporting the killer Development 2.0 application?

Thanks to Euan Semple, I recently learned about Akvo.org, the self-styled "open source for water and sanitation."

Part of the project, Akvo Direct, looks like a niche version of Kiva.org: an attempt to connect directly water and sanitation projects from around the world with potential donors, cutting out the intermediaries (and associated overheads). The web at its best.

But what I really liked about the site is the attempt to apply the concept of Real Simple Reporting (RSR):

Funding large numbers of small projects has always been considered too expensive. A big reason is that too much time and money is spent reporting on each of them. We simplify but improve reporting with Akvo Really Simple Reporting (Akvo RSR). This is a web and SMS-based reporting system that lets project teams share short text updates, images and films clips.

Anyone with experience working in the development sector will sympathise with the attempt to simplify reporting requirements (while at the same time increasing transparency and accountability). Too often burdensome reporting requirements stifle innovation and are out of synch with the complexity (and volatility)  of the situation on the ground. One can only subscribe to the Akvo's manifesto:

We want to see less administration, we think knowledge should always be shared and if reporting is to be improved it must be simplified.

Real-time, paper-free, straight from the trenches reporting. If RSR takes off, it could be the killer application of Development 2.0.

Comments

Development cannot be effectively achieved without an integrated approach across dense sectors. Watsan is itself a huge development sector, with complexity and details that no human can possibly grasp alone. Part of the problem is that one cannot possibly ever learn all the best practices in the world and hope to implement projects based on these findings at the same time. Really simple reporting in development is really necessary!

Submitted by John Williams on
Please don't think the issues that surround small-project reporting are limited to developing countries. Anyone who has managed an EU funded project for SMEs in the developed world would appreciate the opportunity for simple, transparent, paper-free reporting.

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