Café's and Carousels
Local VIA Water meetings to connect and learn
Over the course of the programme, it is not just the VIA Water team that has organised meetings in all of our focus countries. Our project owners also come together as a group in their own country, which we call a VIA Water Café. Some countries gather once a year, some every other month. But much of the recipe is the same: they share their stories and updates on their project; give each other advice, and learn from each other. In some café's, a different project is visited every meeting, whereas in other countries this proves to be geographically challenging. In most countries there is a local VIA Water liaison who organises and facilitates the meeting. When a VIA Water team member happens to be visiting the country, they happily join one of the café's, since for them it is a great opportunity to hear what the projects are currently involved in.
In 2018, a new element was added to the meetings: the Carousel. Each café poses a questions for the next meeting that will take place (in a different country), and answers a question posed by a previous cafe. For instance: the Rwanda café asks a question to the Ghana café. Ghana answers, and poses a question to Mozambique. This way, the projects not only share experiences with their fellow country-projects, but also accross the entire VIA Water portfolio.
Through this approach - combined with the live events we have hosted for the different batches of project owners - we see that durable connections are being made. Project owners visit each other when visiting another focus country, and try to incorporate each' others projects in their own chain. They alert each other to possible opportunities - even when they themselves are not involved. For VIA Water, this means we are working towards two important goals: projects (and programme!) are learning from each other, which helps everyone improve. And projects create more opportunities for themselves and each other, leading to projects that will last beyond the funding period: they are here to stay.