Friday, July 25, 2014

Ngarua Maarifa Centre connected to solar Energy

By Samuel Nzioka

Ngarua Maarifa Center has been running on grid electricity to power computers and other machines until last week when it was connected to Solar energy. Recurring power blackout prompted the action by ALIN to install Solar energy so as to provide uninterrupted services to community members. The journey has not been so easy as the power blackouts have been interrupting smooth running of the Maarifa Center and slowing many activities including response to urgent matters.

It took the technical team three days to complete the installations, a job  that could have taken them at most five hours. This was caused by power blackouts during the week. Mr. Kibe, the Alins technician said that, its dangerous when power is on and off oftenly as it can damage equipment's connected to it. He however advised people using electronic machines like computers to install power guards or battery backups so as to prevent further losses.

Solar power inverter and Storage batteries 
The recurring power failure has cost the economy in Sipili township lots of money as many business men/women especially the photocopy, printing, welding, Maize millers and timber yards remain out of business when the power goes out as they solely depend on power for their daily incomes.

Some community members have applauded the bold move by ALIN to embrace renewable energy option quoting that, it will serve as a good example to other people who want to remain in business and reduce the operating costs for their business enterprises. Samuel Njogu, a businessman operating a stationery visited the Maarifa center when he was strolling after power blackout and on finding the Maarifa center power on, he was interested to know where our source is.

"I'm amazed by the idea and I want to be the first stationery shop in Sipili using renewable energy so that I can provide uninterrupted services to my customers. This will also cushion me against losses I make during power blackouts." said Samuel.

Samuel provides all office services including printing, photocopy, lamination and also runs an ICT training school.

Regular Maarifa center users also embraced the idea and affirmed that, it will go further to help them access services better.

"Continued services will allow me to attend my needs promptly as opposed to when the center used to solely depend on grid electricity. I have applied for several jobs forwarded to me by my friends away and have been able to hit the deadlines even when there is power blackout." said Peter Nderitu, Egerton  University psychologist graduate.

Youth Enjoying services at the Maarifa center
Mr. James Mwangi, a Mathematics and Computer science student at Jomo Kenyatta University Of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) has been able to accomplish many tasks due to uninterrupted power supply at the Maarifa center.

"I have been able to log in to my schools' student portal and respond to urgent matters that could have costed me if not attended to. This has been possible through continued services at the Maarifa Center. I have also been able to get timely farming information as I am also doing farming to raise my school fees and pocket money for the next semester."

James also wants to be a good example as he is successfully doing farming despite weather challenges faced by many farmers in Laikipia county. Read; Youth farmer not deterred by water scarcity. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Community Groups urged to be vibrant in development initiatives

By Samuel Nzioka

A joint meeting by Arid Lands Information Networks (ALIN) and Office of the Member Of county assembly, Sipili/Olmoran ward saw more than 150 Community groups representatives operating in Sipili/Olmoran ward convene at Catholic hall  to discuss issues affecting their development. The main agenda for the meeting was to identify the active self help groups, welfare groups,Community based organizations, NGOs and other development groups with an aim of looking for intervention strategies to help the groups to become more effective. Another agenda was to introduce FARMIS to wide range of stakeholders and create more momentum for farmer profiling.

 All group representatives were given opportunity to present their groups activities and achievements. Speaking during the meeting, Mr Kero, the ward administrator urged the groups to take advantage of devolution and apply for county funds through tenders and other grants. he also urged the youth and women to apply  for youth and women enterprise funds from the national government and not to just sit and wait. ALIN through  Ngarua Maarifa Centre  were tasked  to ensure the application forms are available to the willing  groups.

Mr. Noah Lusaka addressing the participants
Mr Noah Lusaka, ALINs project manager led the participants through ACT! project which has its main goal as 'enhancing community resilience to adapt to the impacts of climate change for improved livelihoods'. The project will focus on a series of community consultative meetings with an objective to lobby for development of climate change adaptation framework, enhance communities capacity to adapt climate smart Agricultural practices (CSAPs) for improved livelihoods and enhancing communities access to usable information and knowledge on climate change adaptation for increased resilience. He also urged the groups to write down their own profiles and forward them for future reference.

Participants were taken through FARMIS Kenya where they were urged to embrace farming as a business and focus on making profit from their enterprises. Speaking during the meeting, Mr. Samuel Mwangi urged the farmers to take advantage of the platform and manage their farms in prudent ways to avoid post harvest losses and make a business case.

Farmers also got an opportunity to interact with Juhudi Kilimo, a microfinace institution
supporting farmers to access asset based loans and basic finance training to smallholder farmers and enterprises that allow them to purchase wealth generating  financial solutions.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Pomp and color as information sharing kibanda is Launched

By Samuel Nzioka

There was joy and celebrations at an open day held at Ng’arua Maarifa Centre, located at Sipili Sub-County office on July 12, 2014. The event which was graced by among others Laikipia County representatives, Mr. Godfrey Ndonye  and Mr. Njuguna who represented the guest of honor, the county Commissioner Mr. Wilfred Kinyua  also marked the official launch of the Sustainable Land and Natural Resources Management Centre dubbed ‘Mazingira Knowledge Centre’

Other partners present were, The international Small Group & Tree planting Program (TIST), East Africa Grain Council (EAGC), Community Forest association, Laikipia Produce and Marketing Cooperative Society (LP&MC), Laikipia Centre for Knowledge and Information (LACKIN), Pure Sacco, Laikipia central community Development (LAICCODO) and Juhudi Kilimo among others.

Participants visiting LAICCODO stand
The open day aimed to create an effective knowledge sharing platform to build communities’ capacity for effective stewardship of Sustainable Land Management (SLM) practices and enhanced resilience in Laikipia County. The event provided an opportunity for community members to share knowledge on various technologies and innovations on climate change mitigation and adaptation among other services and products which were on display during the event.

Information materials were also archived and pinned at the knowledge sharing Kibanda for communities to learn new technologies and ways of reducing environmental degradation.

Some of the innovations and technologies that were on display during the open day included; energy saving cooking stoves, castor oil cooking stove, Solar lanterns, soap and candles made locally from bee wax, information materials on use of biogas and other bio fuels, water harvesting technologies and forest conservation strategies.

Speaking during the event, Mr. Ndonye urged participants to be good ambassadors and share with fellow neighbors and other community members what they had learned from the event. He also noted that, he has learned a lot from the event especially the use of castor oil as biofuel for cooking and keeping away mosquitoes and flies from the houses.

Participants also learned of different climate change adaptation strategies from farmers who displayed their fresh fruits like Mangoes, pineapples, passion, Tree tomatoes and thorn melons while others had value added products like dried cassava, rosemary and vegetables.

Mr Kiarahu explaining value addition technologies to farmers
Mr. Francis Kiarahu, a farmer who has participated in several events both locally and internationally explained to farmers how it’s important to diversify their farming during this time when the weather changes are unpredictable. He explained how he doesn’t depend on maize and beans as many farmers do.

“I don’t depend on one crop during my farming. My farm has fruit trees, cassava, pineapples, tree tomato, oranges, indigenous vegetables, and the rest portion has maize and beans. During this dry season, my family is comfortable since there is a lot of cassava in my farm. I’m also earning from my fruit trees.” Said Mr. Kiarahu.

Farmers also got an opportunity to learn more about SOKO+ and Farm Record Management Information System (FARMIS), where queries on the same were addressed.  Those who had not subscribed for the services were also registered.  

Participants visiting FARMIS stand
SOKO+ is a digital commodity trading and information system linking small scale farmers to end retailers. It also provides commodity prices from major markets and e-extension services.  

FARMIS is a farm management and diagnostic tool based on the use of farm records. It was developed for use by diverse stakeholders in the agriculture sector aimed at identifying productivity trends, profitability of different farm enterprises and producing evidence for use in decision making at the farm.

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