Wednesday, August 13, 2014


By Maison Nteetu

The main challenge for most of the farmers in Kenya, especially in lowlands, is lack of enough water for irrigation. During dry seasons farmers get low yields mostly because they lack water which is a basic necessity for plants.  In most cases, some even cannot try farming in such seasons.
Does irrigation takes place in some areas without rain? How do they get water for irrigation? There are some places which are much blessed with natural resources. Water flows on rivers throughout seasons and residents take the opportunity.

Nguruman is among the most blessed parts in the country. It is located in Kajiado County approximately 45 Kilometers from Magadi town where Salt is mined.

Nguruman Escarpments acts as the source of water for Entasopia and Oloibortoto rivers which feed Nguruman place with water. This water has been widely used by the community members in different ways. It acts as the source of water for livestock, domestic use and mostly for irrigation.

Irrigation was initially done through canals. Canals were built from the river to the farms by the farm owners. Those who have neighbouring   farms unite and make canals from the main river to their farms. Each farmer who contributed to the construction of the canal, was allocated a specific day to water his/her plants.
However, in the year 2012, the irrigation system was designed to take another outlook. The Irrigation Water Users Association (IWUA) initiated a sprinkler irrigation project with support from the Africa Development Bank (ADB).

The water that runs through canals initially has to be pumped through pipes to farms so as to ensure maximum utilization.  This will also ensure that a farmer will have water running from once farm everyday unlike the canals system where farmers are allocated a specific day.

A sprinkler set ready to use
The sprinkler system is more efficient and the residents have appreciated it. At first, the community members did not like the system since they claim that water might not be enough. They thought that their livestock will not access water and the small bushes that usually surrounds the canals, will dry up.

Nguruman acts as the ‘savior’ of most pastoralists during the dry seasons. It remains green for a long time, usually throughout the year except during the 2009 drought. This is where the pastoralists ran to with their livestock during such dry seasons. Most believe it is because of the permanent canals, that the place remains green for a long period. The pastoralists now are petrified when they see such a change that will ensure water runs through pipes and will probably lack in the canals.

Initially used water canal
To free the pastoralists from the fear, the IWUA organization put up water troughs and wells in some parts of the area to provide water for livestock and even for domestic use. On vegetation issues, some members suggested that they should allocate at least one day in a week that water should be allowed to run through the canals to ensure vegetation exists.
“Initially, I used to cultivate less than a quarter acre of land of which I was not sure whether I will gain anything due to water shortages.  I can now cultivate an acre and even more and I am very hopeful that I will gain much yields from it due to this sprinkler project”. This is what Mama Clara had to say to express her happiness with the project. Her farm is among the already farms that have received the sprinklers and are now functioning.
Mr. Moses, a farmer from Ndarkalai area also explained the advantage part of the sprinklers over the previous canal system. “Earlier, I almost gave up with farming when I had tomato seedlings worth Kshs.7000 which dried up due to lack of enough water. My farm is very far from the escarpments and only little water reach this place. On May fortunately, the sprinkler system reached my farm”. Said Mr. Moses on his half an acre farm of raw tomatoes.

The sprinkler system has also reduce use of much labour since the big work is just to move the portable sprinklers unlike the canal system where one directs water to every basin.

A farmer watering his plants through canal irrigation
Generally, the project has been embraced by many even though it had slight challenges like leakages and high maintenance of the sprinklers.  The leakages may be caused by failing to use the sprinklers which lead to a build up pressure that causes the pipes to burst.
The project however, is incomplete and upon completion, the president of Kenya is expected to launch it officially before the end of this year.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The New Face of a Kiosk, Solar Kiosk

By Maison Nteetu

The world’s first Solar Kiosk was officially opened in Ethiopia on July 2012. It is a portable solar shop designed in Germany by Graft architects. A Solar Kiosk is a highly optimized kiosk with solar panels on top.

In August 2013 on 22th, a Solar Kiosk was installed in Nguruman and officially opened on 26th. This was just after installation of another one in Olkiramatian shopping centre. The Olkiramatian Solar Kiosk has really helped the Olkiramatian residents since there were no stable shops in the area and phone charging was also mayhem for the residents. The residents are now enjoying the Graft’s invention under Mr. Seuri.

Nguruman Solar Kiosk is amazingly providing services that one can ever hope for to the residents. Under Mr. Joel Kanunga, the Kiosk is providing a safe and affordable solution for the unstable sources of light. Residents can purchase solar lanterns at an affordable price.

The Kiosk also offers phone charging, cards and refreshments. It has a refrigerator and therefore you can enjoy cool drinks, a unique service in the area. Like other shops, it provides quick bought commodities such as sugar, packed tea; cooking fat among others. The Solar Kiosk also has a digital TV screen providing entertainment services to residents.
Side view of Nguruman solar Kiosk
With the first functional Solar Kiosk operating in Ethiopia, the creators are looking for business partners and NGO’s who can help bring the kiosks to parts of the world where they are most needed.

In Nguruman, the Solar Kiosk have partnered with Indigo. Indigo provides internet services while the Solar Kiosk provides power and sells Indigo’s vouchers. Indigo has installed boosters near the Kiosk to increase the strength and distance the signal should reach. The organization has also provided 2 tablets and 2 smart phones where one can use to access net but at a cost. 

An Indigo internet services providers' booster
The Kiosk is know under expansion. Another room which will act as a saloon and a kinyozi is under construction.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Together We Can End Poverty

By Maison Nteetu

If you want to reach somewhere fast, walk alone, but if you want to go far walk with others. This is a say that Nguruman residents believe in so much. They have impressed it in their farming activities especially.
Ushirika, is the name they give to their small groups. Ushirika is a Kiswahili name meaning togetherness. An ushirika can have up to seven members, of which each member is allocated a specific day where all the members meet to perform duties required by the host.

These are the best groups actually requiring after work, just a cup of tea if it is available. They can prepare a quarter acre of land in one day. The group requires that members’ farms are not too far so as to utilize time.

A planted field of one member. 

According to the group members, there are policies and an administration where they orally elect a chairman whose duty is to give orders on less active members. The chairman however has no advantage over the other members. He must be responsible and serve as an example.

If a member misses another’s duty, according to the rules, he is supposed to compensate during the weekend when the other members are free. Time is the most valued item according to the members.

Group members performing duties   
According to the group members, there are policies and an administration where they orally elect a chairman whose duty is to give orders on less active members. The chairman however has no advantage over the other members. He must be responsible and serve as an example.

If a member misses another’s duty, according to the rules, he is supposed to compensate during the weekend when the other members are free. Time is the most valued item according to the members.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


By Maison Nteetu

Many young children would like to join schools be it primary or secondary schools to ensure they cope with the current generation. However, it is not their faults or even their parents’ if they fail to do so. They sometimes lack finances to carter their school fees and other needs. Education is becoming expensive though it has also become a basic need.

Olorika Foundation came out as the source of hope for the needy society in the year 2005. It extended from Nguruman to many places including Shompole, Oloika, Olkiramatian and Oloserian. Mr. Bonde came up with the foundation after realizing the suffering and how needy the society is.
The foundation has sponsored the following in its mission of helping the needy. 

  •  Students’ school fees payment      
  •  Provision of teachers’ salary.    
  •    Provision of water drams and 
  •    Provision of library books for some schools.

Students’ school fees payment
The foundation sponsors a hundred and fifty secondary and primary students. Seventy two students are from Olkiramatian primary school while sixty five students are in Patterson Memorial Secondary school. The other thirteen are in different secondary schools.

Some of the students are partially sponsored while others are fully sponsored. This was arrived at after realizing that other students are from extreme poverty affected families while others are from poor but not extreme poor families.45 students in primary school are partially sponsored in primary schools while 27 are fully sponsored. In secondary school, 20 students are fully sponsored while 45 are partially sponsored.

Teachers’ Salaries
 Olorika foundation pays salaries for some primary school teachers. It pays 2 Olkiramatian primary school teachers, 3 from Entasopia and one from Pakaase primary school.

The foundation donated 100 library books to Patterson Secondary school. The foundation supplied 20 tanks to the community members. These helped in the environmental conservation.
Olorika foundation beneficiaries in a meeting.
From 2012 however, there was a delay in payment of school fees. Mr. Bonde explained the situation and promised he should have not let them suffer if he was capable of controlling what he is undergoing.
Mr. Bonde is undergoing financial difficulties as his source of finances is affected by frequent attacks. He called the whole community to join him in prayers to help him out of the difficulties.

Mr. Bonde addressing the meeting.
“I can’t promise for any help now as I am struggling to recover from losses caused by my assailants. I will be back to help you if God help me through.” Said Mr. Bonde. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Crop diseases, a challenge to nguruman farmers

By Maison Nteetu

As farmers straggle to move out of bondage of poverty, crop diseases tries to make the farmer’s dream delay and sometimes kill their hopes of getting a good harvest. Crop diseases, as well as livestock diseases, act as the farmer’s stumbling block of their success.

Maize lethal necrosis disease for example, has made a lot of farmers to almost lose hope on growing maize after a serious destruction of the crops.

Some of the characteristics of the disease include among others, yellow stripes on leafs and stem of the affected plant. 

 An affected plant. photo by Maison
A good example is a farmer who planted half an acre of maize and the farm was affected by maize lethal necrosis disease. This leaves many hopeless and unwilling to continue growing crops.

After a month almost all the plants turned brown. They seem to be ready for harvest but they bear no grains.
Maize lethal necrosis disease has no cure according to plant-wise investigation. However, a plant clinic held on the first and last week of the month helps farmers to understand ways on how they can prevent their plants from being affected.
Mr Kibinge, A plant doctor analysing some samples. Photo by Maison
Some of the preventions include:
  •  Avoid moving plants from infected regions to non-infected regions to reduce spread of the disease.
  • Avoid continues planting of maize crops to stop persistence of virus and possible vectors.  Practice crop rotation.
  •  Avoid planting recycled seeds.
  • Keep the field free from weeds.

Once the plant is affected, the farmer is advised to uproot and destroy the plant by burning or burying it 1m deep.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Nguruman Maarifa Advisory committee strengthened

Nguruman Maarifa Centre  has been in existence for the past nine years where community members have been receiving free services like Internet access, ICT training, Online market information, e-Government services, Multi-media content, Publications, information on sustainable Agriculture, climate change and Natural resource Management  among other topics.

Since its establishment, many milestones have been achieved with over ten thousand community members benefiting from the facility. The daily operations of the Maarifa centre are overseen by a Field officer assisted by a community knowledge facilitator who is a member of the community. A advisory committee comprising of representatives from different stakeholders are elected to oversee the operations of the facility and act as a link between  ALIN and the community.

Community members following proceedings during the Launching of the Maarifa centre
Strengthening Nguruman Maarifa centre advisory committee was key as some older members had got other community assignments and vacant positions needed to be filled. Through thorough discussions and consultations with stakeholders present during  the meeting, A strong advisory committee was formed with representations from Community groups, Associations, Church based organizations, Government ministries, NGOs, the disabled, Local administration and farmer groups.

The elected members were urged to desist from personal interests and work together for the benefit of the entire community words that were echoed by  the Area chief Mr Tin'gai who is a member of the committee. The committee recorded a 100% attendance during our New year meeting held on 18th January, 2014 at the Maarifa centre.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Nguruman farmers keen on Market curtails

Farmers within Nguruman irrigation scheme have been keen on market curtails which has since then exploited their potential to have their right share in their pockets. Intensive training on market survey and gross margin analysis by ALIN and Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) has played a vital roles in enlightening the farmers to change their perspective and embrace 'farming as a business' model.

Many a times farmers have registered  huge losses which have lowered their chances to sustain themselves economically and due to their dark experiences, they resolved to form marketing groups depending on the produce to keep off middle men who make a kill out of their fortunes. During a meeting organized by MOA, farmers shared their grievances and agreed to work together to avert their losses.

DAO Adressing meeting participants

"Its something we can work out if we cooperate as farmers and work closely with other stakeholders... we look forward for a time when we will be able to get our 100% share from our produce..." Said Mr Munyere, one of the farmers. "Some years back we used to earn good money from our farms but when we welcomed brokers, things changed completely..." Added Mr. Toroke, community elder.

During the meeting, The Sub-county Agricultural Officer, Mr Henry Siro urged the farmers to embrace Mobile technologies and online platforms to ensure they have up-to-date information on markets and emerging farming technologies and recognized ALIN's bold move to launch a mobile platform Sokopepe which is user friendly and every farmer can use with ease. He also urged farmers to come out and show what they are able to produce so they can sell their produce through the platform.

A community elder contributing to the discussion

In response farmers narrated how they have lost lots of money to buyers who carry their farm produce and promise to send them money only to disappear.

"We have in the past seen people posing as buyers only to walk away with our hard earned produce and never come back... we now prefer using other platforms like sokopepe where we are sure our produce will be handled safely.." Said Mr. Mburu who practices mixed farming.

The farmers agreed with one voice to cooperate with other stakeholders to ensure they benefit fully from their produce and make use of resources and information within their reach to improve their livelihoods.