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Blooming Bud School in Kalna, India, finally moves to its own building.

Since 2005, Sushmita Lahiri, Local Representative of Kalna, has been teaching children at her own house. This week we received some very uplifting news.

Local Representative Sushmita Lahiri writes:

“School shifted from my house to its own building ! ! ! Yesterday, Tuesday the 5th of April 2011 !”

Sushmita writes she has been scrubbing off the old paint during her leisure time, and she was able to hire a painter to paint the first part of the building.

“The children are very happy in the new school! At this moment, only a part of the total building could be made fit for use. Please be assured that as soon as other parts complete and made ready for use, I will let you know!”

Congratulations Sushmita! We’re waiting for more positive news.

Read more about Kalna, and find out how you can help:

Sushmita teaching at her house

Open for Change Meet-up, 18 March 2011

We had our first network meetup since we graduated from the IS Hub informal network to a Partos-hosted Open for Change platform, and we had a nice mix of familiar and new faces and organisations.

We ended up with plenty of discussions and ideas around three presentations:

  • The dreams and the activities of Open for Change as a networking platform by Pelle Aardema.
  • The architecture of connecting open data sources to tools and services by Rolf Kleef.
  • The development of a service layer of service components as an “app store for development” by Anna Chojnacka and Thomas Bjelkeman.

We tried to focus our discussions on possible ingredients for the Open Data for Development Camp we’re organizing on May 12 and 13 in Amsterdam: networks to reach out to, data sources to include, questions to be answered. And ended with an ambition suggested by Anna and Thomas: how can we make Open for Change scale to a world-wide brand for “the new way to development aid”?

AKVO kindly arranged space in the International Water House, and we mingled with the NGO WASH network who ended their meeting there with a drink to start off the weekend too.

If you’re interested in joining us next time: join our mailing list, or sign up for the Open Data in Development Camp we’re organizing in May!


Open for Change’s vision, mission and plans

Open for Change’s vision is that we will have:

  • A connected global development sector in which access is getting far more important than ownership: access to information and knowledge and access to tools for using this information.
  • Increasing worldwide collaboration
  • More participatory models for changes in organisations, projects and policies.

This will raise new questions around trust, transparency, ownership, and quality, and poses us with two challenges:

  • How can we match skills, methods, knowledge and technology
  • How can we implement the principles of open access within the sector.

We therefore want to increase access to data, knowledge and software applications within the global development sector, by providing a

To do so we want to provide a platform to:

  • exchange knowledge on topics like open source, open data, open standards on both a national and an international level;
  • support and promote projects within the Dutch sector; to increase a sector wide understanding of the challenges and benefits of open access to data, knowledge and software;
  • set up and (temporary) maintain missing parts of the infrastructure to support such projects.

The website, the Open Data Development Camp and providing a platform for the WASH data that AKVO and DGIS collaborate on are concrete activities (as was this network meetup).


The architecture to connect data to services and tools

With the growing supply of open data sets and apps and tools that can work with different types of data, it becomes hard to match “supply and demand”, to build a website or service. And so we want to develop an architecture that provides easier points of entry for developers and users:

  • Open data standards make it easier for tool developers to import or export data for various applications.
  • Data registries can gather information about available data sets and data aggregators: what do they offer, in what format, with which license?
  • By integrating data sets, tools and standards, we can build a distribution of components that have been tested to be working together.

If we have such a distribution for the development sector, it makes it easier for organisations to choose tools and standards to work with.

  • The IATI registry wants to gather data that complies with the IATI standard and has undergone a certain level of quality checks. This will enable countries receiving donations to find the relevant data about development programmes in one place.
  • An essential element is that donors provide their data themselves, and basically only register how the data can be accesses in the IATI registry.
  • The open nature of such a registry enables the re-use of that meta-data in for instance an Open for Change registry. The focus of that registry can be broader, and also include other open data sets, targeting a different set of users.

A crucial aspect is that a donor need not even know their data is being re-used, but most of all: does not have to do extra work.


Presentatie Open for Change positie en relatie tot IATI en ResRap

View more presentations from Rolf Kleef

An App Store for development

In February, Akvo Foundation and Skoll Global Threats Fund co-convened a meeting in San Francisco on the subject of online services for the development sector.

1%CLUB , Akvo and Text to Change have been discussing this concept of a shared web application store for a while, together with other parties that participate in Open For Change.


Anna shared her story on the San Francisco meeting, and presented the current state of their joint thinking.

In short the idea is to create a web application store for our existing applications. The web app store would be a thin service layer which would enable data exchange between the applications, allow the existing applications to communicate with each other, and provide other shared facilities such as authentication and billing services. The web app store would enable others to create their own web applications that would use this services layer. On top of that we would collaborate around the development processes, testing infrastructure, sharing skills and helping each other.

Read the original blog post by AKVO here:

A shared online services platform for the development sector

Happy Holidays from NABUUR

Dear all,

As we enter the holiday season and the year comes to a close, we’d like to wish you and your loved ones a joyous and peaceful holiday.

The past year has not been the easiest year in NABUURs history. At the beginning of 2010 we knew we had a difficult job ahead: changing NABUUR from a staff-run organisation to a fully volunteer run community. We’ve had to overcome a lot of difficulties, but at the end of the year we’re still together as a group of people who share the same purpose: putting their skills to use where they really matter.

Many thanks go to each one of you for all that you have contributed in this past year: by checking in regularly to see how things are going, by helping communities move forward, getting in touch with new volunteers, and in numerous other ways – Thank you so much!

It’s this sense of community that makes NABUUR work, and it shows:

These kind of inspiring examples keep us focused and hopefully mark the beginning of a new and successful period for NABUUR.

Happy holidays, everyone!

On behalf of the NABUUR board and governance team,

Pelle Aardema


Welcome to my personal Blog. Here you can read about me, what keeps me busy and what inspires me. To give you an overview of what I’ve been doing over the last few years, I’ve selected a number of (blog)posts. Most have been posted on NABUUR before: consider them as ‘legacy crossposts’… highlights of what […]

NABUUR redesign – Testing the first bits

In between clearing out the office, different conferences and meetings (more about that soon) and the all social media efforts you’d nearly forget about the redesign. But it’s still ongoing!

Last month saw the release of a new demo site that has been used for testing the first bits (take a peek at

You’ll notice a few things:

1. The new NABUUR logo!!! I’m proud to present our new logo, which is fresher, brighter than the current logo. Also notice that we’re moving from .com to .org, which fits NABUUR a lot better

2. With the new logo, the colour scheme will also change. Brighter colours and a more contemporary style.
3. The pages are still pretty empty. This is partly caused by the fact that the site is in development. Right now only the first basic functions have been installed. When more functions are added, the pages will fill up. But, as one of the main reasons for the redesign is to make NABUUR easier to use, they should stay pretty ‘clean’.

Testing the new site
A number of Local Reps have provided their feedback on the first user cases that were implemented: ‘Sign up as a Neighbour and ‘Register your Villlage’. At the same time the NABUUR team has been live testing the demo with non-NABUUR users, in order to get feedback on the user experience. The collected feedback already lead to improvements in the design. This method of testing (both face-to-face and online) will be used for all the functionality that is developed.

If you have a look, keep in mind this is not a finished site yet, but feel free to test the sign up process. Any feedback is welcome here.

Upcoming functionality
In the meanwhile our team worked on the Village’s project room. A first version should be up in the coming week.

Want to be involved in the testing? Leave a comment or send me an email at pelle [at]

A short message goes a long way…

It all started with a message: “Hello Esther, my name is Mpoya Kiirya Eddy. Please join my Village Kisozi and advice me on my project for Orphans and Vulnerable Children.” At the end of the week, Esther will board the plane to Uganda: to visit Africa for the first time in her life AND to […]

NABUUR has left the building

… and moves on to a more flexible way of working.

Today Siegfried and I moved out the last boxes, I only have to hand in the keys and that’s the end of the NABUUR office in Amersfoort.
As NABUUR is changing the way it works – key now is to be open…

NABUUR Redesign is Underway!

For those who regularly visit our Website development group it’s no surprise: the NABUUR site is being redesigned.

So far, most discussions and brainstorms have taken place within a small group of staff and volunteers, but the first screens of the new site will be visible soon.

Why this redesign?

Developing NABUUR is a continuous process. Not only new (technical) possibilities keep emerging; the actual contacts and work that take place in the villages on NABUUR also bring up new insights and lessons learned.

Last year, NABUUR was migrated from an old (XOOPS) environment, which didn’t allow further development of the platform, to Drupal, a new, state of the art environment which offers a lot of functionality. Quite a number of long awaited changes were made to the way NABUUR is organised. Due to limited time and means however, the old look and feel were mostly copied across without a proper redesign. The introduction of new features has caused pages to ‘clutter up’, making the NABUUR site not the easiest to navigate. Next to that the NABUUR site could use a fresher look and feel.


NABUUR is being redesigned through an ‘agile’ process:

– The functionality that the NABUUR site should offer is written down in ‘user stories’ that describe the experience that a certain user should have (the full set is ~50 user stories)
– Every month our team chooses the user stories that will be designed/developed that month.
– Starting with the basic functions, how futile they may seem: the signup forms were designed first
– Any user stories that are ready are implemented on, where they can be seen and tested

Right now, it still looks like a fresh new Drupal site, straight from the box. But in the course of summer, bits and pieces will be added and a fresh new NABUUR will take shape. For now, click on the demo link above and take a peek at the new logo to see the new, fresher colours.

Join us in building!

We’ll need a lot of help in various ways, and love to hear if you want to get involved! Are you an experienced DRUPAL developer? Or do you want to help with testing the site? Just leave a comment and we’ll get in touch.

Stay tuned for more Redesign news, and keep track of the conversation in the Website Development group.

NABUUR at a higher speed

Have you browsed around NABUUR this week yet? Noticed anything extraordinary? No? I thought so…

But an important change took place ‘under-the-hood’: the NABUUR site has been moved to bigger, faster servers!

The occasional visitor probably won’t notice the difference. The regular visitors and Neighbours should experience a better site speed, however.

Ever since the NABUUR Drupal site was launched last year, the speed of the site has been a point of attention. Frans and Kester pulled every trick they knew: PHP-errors, memcache, MySQL queries, 404-handling, Varnish and a dozen other ideas came to the table. And when all of that had been done (and helped quite a bit): let’s move the site to a bigger server.

Last Monday morning the operation took place: the access to the site was closed for 2 hours, it was made sure no postings were lost, the site was moved and then was activated again, without any major interruptions. Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of our tech team, I proudly present:

NABUUR at a higher speed!

For the curious techies: the site is running on 2 new servers now. The first one is a dedicated server for the database. The other dedicated server is the application/http server.

The new server configuration

Type as fast as you can, our site can handle it 😉