Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How Maarifa centre’s empower rural communities.

Mr. Kamau inspecting a newly completed jiko
ALIN's mission is to improve the livelihoods of arid lands communities through delivery of practical information using modern technologies.  The information is channeled through info-mediaries; comprised of community development workers (CDWs), NGOs and even government officers, who in turn pass it on to communities.
Mr. Kamua who works with an NGO called Tree Is life Trust (TILT) involve communities through transfer of technologies, knowledge and skills on sustainable agriculture and climate change. 

A part from being among the pioneer founders of the Ng’arua Maarifa center, he is also a frequent user of information resources available at the hub.
I paid a visit to his office and he narrated his experiences at the Maarifa centre since inception. From his feedback I established that besides benefiting as an individual, the communities he serves too have benefited from the knowledge he has acquired from the centre.
The free internet service available at the centre gave him a platform to network with friends. He has subscribed to the social networks especially facebook thus enabling him to get in touch with his friends. He gets updates on new events through the site and widely receives and shares the same through the modern platform.
He frequently searches the internet where he receives mails and especially on the new resource mobilization strategies and opportunities. ‘‘I have been able to attended many workshops, and especially after getting connections through the net. This would have been difficult were it not for the availability of internet in this remote locality,’’ said Kamau.
From his research, Kamau came across information on how to construct a Jiko, designed to serve both for cooking and as a chicken brooder. The heat from the Jiko provides warmth for young chicks, in a brooder underneath. He has tested the technology and many farmers have adopted and are successfully using it. ‘‘The energy saving jiko with a brooder have reached over 500 people within Ng’arua region and over 100 of them have been made’’ said Kamau.
Information hub
 From ‘’appropriate technology’’ magazines, he has learned how to make a mud tank, for harvesting the rain water from the roof. The technology has also spread far and wide with many low income earners in the society opting for the simple and cheap way of harvesting water. He has trained twenty groups on how to make the mud tank. Two primary schools have adopted the technology which is now benefiting more than five hundred pupils.
The success of these technologies earned the confidence of user’s on information sourced from the Maarifa centre. ‘‘The centre has therefore become a point of reference where I refer people to get more information on various subjects that I cover in my work,’’ said Kamau.

Last year, Kamau wrote an article which was published in the ALIN’s flagship journal, the Baobab. ‘‘That story has opened up my world,’’ he said, referring to the huge publicity he and his organization got from the story. The feature story was about a method of locating underground water using two copper wires held parallel to each other and horizontal to the body frame, a method referred to as water dowsing. ‘’since the story was published I have received calls from as far as Tanzania and Uganda.’’ readers are seeking for more instructions on how to use that method.  ‘’I have travelled to Murang’a twice and once in Athi river to show people how the technology works. ‘‘I am happy that all of the technologies were very successful,’’ he said.
The other skill he tried out from the information gathered from or through the Maarifa centre was making of a tubular biogas. ‘‘recently travelled to Kajiado, way past Nairobi, in a remote village of Nguruman to install a tubular biogas,’’ said kamau. The exposure, as he said gave him recognition from the communities and as such boosted his self esteem. It has also provided an alternative source of clean energy for the beneficiary households.
Skill gained
Kamau also operates a small business and has been sourcing information on how to run the business successfully.  ‘‘The knowledge gained from the books has enabled me to improve on the management of my business.
Convenience in sending reports.
‘‘Communication with the head office of our organization has never been a problem, I send reports and receive official information through the internet at the Maarifa centre’’ said Kamau.
By Bett Kipsa’ng

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

‘‘Swimming for money’’ ended in tragic death of a swimmer.

A twenty seven year old man drowned yesterday in Ndaragwiti dam in sipili division Laikpia County. This was confirmed by the area chief Mr. Paul Nasky.

 The incident took place at around 1.00 PM in the afternoon. Three men left Sipili shopping centre and headed for Ndaragwiti Dam. According to Fred ndungu, who was among the three; the reason for going there was to determine who amongst them was ‘‘hero’’ in swimming. They placed a bet for a hundred shillings to be won by the best swimmer among the three. 

 Fred Ndungu, one of the swimmers started by swimming across a hundred meter stretch of the dam and back. The ill fated John Mwaniki, 27 could not resist the challenge, or else he could be looked down upon by his mates. He undressed quickly and dived into the water, beats his legs and hands around and before long he was completely exhausted. He sunk below the water, sprung up and whistled for help!
 Ndungu who is a better swimmer sensed danger and went to lend a hand to his friend. ‘‘I held him and tried to pull him out of the water, but he was very heavy. He even tried to hold me down and I thought we may both drown! I left him and hurried out’’ said Ndungu. 

 When Ndungu felt helpless, he came out, dressed very fast and went across the village to raise alarm that his friend was drowning in the dam! Within no time villagers had gathered by the dam in their hundreds. They put together their creative minds, sought for the rear wheel tube of a tractor, and inflated it with pressure to improvise a floater. One young man volunteered to steer the home made vessel as he scavenged the water using a long metal bar and a long hooked stick in desperate attempts to rescue the drowning man.
 Word went out to Sipili market and people started trooping to the water point in large numbers, they went on foot, bicycles, motor bikes and even vehicles. By five o’clock, hundreds of people stood by the dam watching helplessly as the lone ranger volunteer attempted to scavenge through the water hopping to stumble upon the body of John Mwaniki. 

 The large dam lay calm, except for the rolling ripples of water moved towards the lower end by the blowing wind. Onlookers sat in groups and communicated in low tones, bewildered by the tragic incident. By five O’clock in the evening, the cloths of John mwaniki were still by the dam side and people’s hopes of finding him alive was starting to diminish. The body was found floating on the water today, 18th/10/2011 in the morning.  

Drug and substance abuse.           
Sources privy to the provincial administration, reported that the slopes of the damn overlooking the water, was associated with young men smoking ‘‘weed’’, the street  name for ''Bhang'' an illegal drug. The place is said to be soothing due to the evening breeze. ‘‘They feel as if it is the coastal beach’’ said one of the men, who strongly believed the men went there to smoke the substances. One man in the crowed who sought anonymity said, the extra ordinary courage in john Mwaniki’s jumping into the water, knowing too well he was not good in swimming, was inspired by the influence of the ‘‘weed’’.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why I value the Maarifa centre: Charles Ngoro.

 Charles Ngoro is a frequent user of Ngarua maarifa centre in Sipili. The 60 year old farmer lives in Karaba village of Muhotetu division, Laikipia County.  Ngoro have been borrowing books and accessing information from the centre for a long time. He reads magazines and other publications. Whenever he returns the publication, he is always armed with a story to tell of what he has learned. 

In august 2011, he borrowed a magazine; ‘‘footsteps issue 48’’. The magazine featured articles on traditional medicine.  He was highly impressed by the title since he wanted to learn the relationships between modern medicine and traditional medicine. Immediately he signed the issuance book. I went with him to the Maarifa library to search for another book on poultry feeds formulation, I picked a pamphlet and he could easily pose; ‘’ I have already read that one’’. 

Read full story

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Human wildlife conflict; Laikipia west.

‘‘Human-wildlife conflict referrers to the interaction between wild animals and people and the resultant negative impact on people or their resources, or wild animals or their habitat, it occurs when wildlife needs overlap with those of human populations, creating costs to residents and wild animals’’ Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

  Such conflicts are witnessed in human settlement bordering animal sanctuaries and conservancies. Laikipia west is dotted with forests and conservancies home to wild animals. The rise in human population calls for increased and expansion of development, the global climate changes and other human and environmental factors puts people and wildlife in greater direct competition for the ever diminishing resources. Read full story.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

ALIN family in tears of joy as news of ATLA Award trickles in.

Young children reading story books

 Arid lands Information network ALIN is the 2011’s winner of Access to Learning Award (ATLA). The award is given each year by the foundation's Global Libraries initiative, as a recognition for innovative efforts of public libraries or similar organizations outside the United States to connect people to information through free access to computers and the Internet’’.

 The award is a timely recognition of ALIN's noble idea of connecting the marginalized communities in the Arid and semi Arid regions of East Africa with knowledge by setting up 12 (Maarifa) Knowledge centers.  

 The centers are used by communities to access information and share knowledge via internet, library material including books, CD Roms, computers and word of mouth. 

Outreach activities are organized where communities interact and engage in information sharing through many ways customized suit their needs. 

The 12 maarifa centres are also important dissemination points for ALIN's publications like the Boabab, Joto Africa and a wide range of information materials to meet the needs of the communities.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Knowledge access through Interactive video shows.

By Bett Kipsang

 Ngarua Maarifa centre is one of ALIN’s many telecentres and acts an information hub serving the communities of Laikipia West through the provision of information aimed at enhancing livelihoods. The old adage ‘‘Knowledge is power’’ is the backbone of our endeavors and our users access Information free of charge, through the internet, books, magazines and development DVDs.

Film review
 For some time now I have been exploring the most effective ways of sharing information. The second weekend of the month of August 2011 is a time I will never forget. This is the time when I started practicing one of the most engaging methods of disseminating information to communities. Read full story.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

NG'ARUA MAARIFA CENTRE: Small stock proves lucrative venture for small holders

NG'ARUA MAARIFA CENTRE: Small stock proves lucrative venture for small holders

Small stock proves lucrative venture for small holders

Five years ago, the probability of finding domesticated quails in central Kenya was virtually nil.
For years, the residents believed that the mid-sized birds, which are part of the pheasant family could not be tamed. They even coined a local saying expressing just how improbable it would prove to pull off such a feat.
But not any more. According to the latest Annual Livestock Production (ALP) report, farmers in the province have been breaking new ground in the rearing of animals that have long been traditionally shunned. Read full story

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Gender disparity in knowledge access.

  Each time I analyze the data of people using the Ngarua Maarifa Centre to access information and knowledge, I never cease to wonder about the great gender disparity among visitors. I had never had a good answer for anyone wanting to know the reason why women visiting the Maarifa centre, are far less than men! The disparity is indeed great and calls for appropriate action to reverse the trend.

As I write this I have gotten an idea of how the disparity could have come to be. This is a brief account of what happened at the center one day, an experience, I thought could just be a tip of the iceberg in gender inequality and discrimination. Read full story

Monday, May 30, 2011

''Failure to have good business plan is planning to fail''

 Nothing got my eyes and grabbed and fixed my attention on my favorite ''Standard'' newspaper today than  the story by  peter Kamuri. The article by the above title is a must read for many people aspiring to start and run successful businesses. Read the story

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Collaborative conservation projects

Advocacy on environmental awareness is yielding positive results in Sipili, where stakeholders in development works with community groups to initiate and develop awareness creation structures to ensure people’s participation, ownership and sustainability of projects. A community group called ‘‘Leleshwa ‘A’ youth dam self help group’’, is running a tree planting project at Leleshwa Dam. The project involves a vegetable garden, tree nursery and a tree-planting plot.  Read full story

Commercializing small scale agriculture

The demand for sorghum in Kenya has shot up dramatically following the decision by the East Africa Breweries Limited (EABL) to use the produce for manufacture of one of its beer brands, suppliers contracted by the beer maker said.
"The demand is very high and farmers are unable to meet it. So we are now importing," said Rose Mutuku, the Managing Director of Smart Logistics Solution, a company that is coordinating out grower sorghum farmers on behalf of EABL. Read full story

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Community member donates books to the Maarifa center.

Bett receives the publication from Philip

  Ng’arua Maarifa center have received, eight publications from Philip Gitonga a 55 year old community member and beneficiary of free I.C.T training who completed last year. 

The ICT skills attained after the training have assisted him in research and faster processing of information without assistance unlike before.

  Gitonga brought in the magazines, which includes ‘‘Guidelines for production of healthy seed potatoes in east central Africa’’ by KARI, International Dairy topics, cooking with mushrooms, and others. Gitonga have a home library of about 200 publications, sourced from research institutions, some were bought by him.

‘‘The research materials are good for the public to access learn and make informed choices in regard to agriculture’’ said Gitonga.

 He has a background in applied biology where he retired after working for KARI among other companies. Gitonga finds the Idea of setting up the Maarifa center in Ng’arua unique, especially the free and universal access to information and learning through book, internet and computer trainings.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Kids in search of knowledge

Young children finds learning enjoyable at Ng'arua maarifa centre. They enjoy typing their names and playing computer games. They have little technophobia than most grown ups.

Friday, April 8, 2011

''Culture shock'' In the eyes of peggie.

 Africa is inhabited by cultural communities, and hence the introduction of cultural studies in the institutions of higher learning. Peggie Rua Matti, is a student at daystar university, her internship gave her the experience and adventure to the farthest conners of Laikipia. she is here at the Ngarua Maarifa center, where she has started taking community classes on community journalism. The Maarifa center promotes the access of information by the rural folks through ICTs. Her story on ''Culture shock'' posted on the community journalism blog, gives readers insights on how things are happening in other cultural environments. Read More

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

FeedBack on Free Computer training

 Computer trainees at N'garua Maarifa Center are highly appreciating the services offered, http://ngaruamaarifa.blogspot.com/2010/06/value-of-ict-training-to-people-of.html Most notably are the free computer training and free internet access which has given them an opportunity to connect with the rest of the world. Youths are not left behind, a good case is an email sent to N'garua Maarifa center by a satisfied trainee.
  ---------- Email message ----------
From: NANCY MAINA Date: Sat, Mar 12, 2011 at 10:16 AM
Subject: COMPUTER TRAINING; To: ngaruackc@gmail.com
''Due to  the  advacement  that  is  going on in  the  world,  its  a treasure  that
NG'ARUA  MAARIFA  CENTER is  giving  people a  chance  to  be enlightened
with  the  information  technology.

Thanks  to  the  CKC for  being  so  concerned with  the  ongoing  of  the  people
living  around  them. Thanks  for connecting  us  to  world  through  the  internet.''
Nancy Maina

Monday, March 28, 2011

Free Internet enabled online registration of KNEC Candidates.

The Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) has introduced online registration of K.C.P.E candidates. Many schools in the rural areas could not easily access the system produced by KNEC, being the first time to register online. The N’garua Maarifa Centre with a role of bridging the digital divide in rural arid areas visited the site and downloaded the registration form.

 KNEC had stated that schools have to have access to a computer and the internet, those who don’t should visit any cyber cafe which are connected to the internet and ask for assistance. For that reason one of our former students and head teacher in one of the schools around this area called the Maarifa center seeking assistance. Through him, other schools got the information and came to the center to be assisted with registration, which was not easy because it was a piloting project for the KNEC. Read Full story.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Viewing ‘‘Blogs’’ as new information powerhouses.

The term blog or weblog has become popular only recently According to Wikipedia (2004), a Weblog is “a Web application that contains periodic, reverse chronologically ordered posts on a common Web page”.
 The term Weblog was coined by Jorn Barger in December 1997 and the first Weblog was built by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN. This was also the first Website (http://info.cern.ch/. Peter Scott defines a blog as “a page containing brief, chronologically arranged item of information. A blog can take the form of a diary, journal, what’s new page or links to other websites” Read full story.

How I started Rabbits Rearing; Karanja.

To start rearing rabbits, is as easy as getting a female (doe) and a buck (male), once they start kindling they multiply rapidly. But that could not happen easily to Karanja, first; Rabbits in the community were a preserve of young boys, who kept them as pets for pleasure. ‘‘I started backyard rabbits keeping four yeas ago, without prior knowledge nor interest in the matter. Neither was my attention focused on the small animals’’ said Karanja, a rabbits farmer from Sipili in Laikipia county.

Karanja’s younger son bought one female rabbit and borrowed a male one from a friend; his father took care of them when the boy goes to school. Since then, rabbits started to multiply and there was a ready source of meat for the family. Little by little and Karanja was learning a new trick of solving a problem in the family! Though initially it never occurred to him that one day he will venture into rabbits keeping as an enterprise. Read full story

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Untapped potential of small stocks.

Francis Kinyanjui holds a mature
Rabbit near the Maarifa center
 Livestock are an important part of livelihood systems for many poor rural populations in developing countries. ‘‘Small stocks’’ decreases the vulnerability to poverty, especially since it’s more accessible to greater numbers of poor households.
 Francis Kinyanjui a small-scale farmer in Ngarua Division, have demonstrated resilience in small stocks farming. He keeps a stock of over two hundred rabbits, which have multiplied since he started rabbits rearing for his livelihood, four years ago. In spite of the challenges associated with his choice of occupation, he is not giving up.Read full story

Monday, March 7, 2011


By Bett Kipsan'g
The stiff competition experienced by commercial companies coupled with changing economic times have given an edge to the new idea of Business Process Outsourcing (B.P.O). To cut the costs of operation, companies are laying off workers to enable them concentrate on the core businesses, non-core activities are outsourced to other players at relatively low cost. The smart company section of the daily nation have featured a real life story with a title '' Labour pains of call centre outsourcing'' and the story goes: ''In August this year, an employee of a mobile phone operator had planned to wed his long-time sweetheart. He planned to finance the wedding with savings from the salary he earns as a call-centre operator at Essar Telecom Kenya, which runs the yu mobile brand in Kenya.
“I have not informed anyone including my fiance,” says the employee, who talked on condition of anonymity because of the embarrassment this would cause. “But I have cancelled my wedding plans. I cannot afford it with my new salary.” Read full story. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Property lost in midnight fire

The small scale traders in Sipili trading center in laikipia county, are counting loses incurred, when their hard earned property went up in midnight flames.

Property of unknown value was destroyed by the raging fires which gutted through shops made of timber. The cause of the fire has not been known, but residents attributes it to an exploded cooking stove.

Trades watched helplessly, since they had no means of putting off the fire, the fire engines can only be found in big towns.

New cash crop to replace conventional farming.

With widespread knowledge of agribusiness, farmers in ng’arua are quickly adopting and planting high value and drought tolerant crops. For many years, Peter Muturi Luka, have been planting maize in a three-quarter-acre farm, the maize yield were far from enough for his family needs.

 The highest he could expect was five to eight thousand shillings in a year; to make matters worse he lives with the risk of watching his crops wither due to frequent long dry spells common in laikipia. Read more.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Leleshwa Agricultural field day.

The Ngarua Maarifa Center participated in an agricultural field day held at the farm of Mr. Ndirangu Waruingi of Leleshwa village, Muhotetu division on 19TH Jan 2010. 127 community members attended the field day, (84-M & 43-F). 10 stakeholders also attended from NGOs, CBO, Banks, companies and self help groups. 

 Ngarua Maarifa Center.
The Ngarua Maarifa center’s stand was strategically set up at the entrance of the farm. We displayed our magazines, books, and people watched videos in Ipods. Read more.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Kenyan beats ICT world to Sh80m

A week ago, Mr John Waibochi was having drinks with his peers at a Nairobi hotel discussing his child’s birthday party held the previous weekend.
‘Murats’ (as his peers call him), concerned about what the future held for his child, spoke passionately about how he wanted to create opportunities for the millions of unemployed youth in Kenya. And on Wednesday night, the 40-something former St Mary’s graduate was catapulted to the world stage when he received a Sh80 million ($1 million) grant from mobile manufacturer Nokia for his software creation. Read More..
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