Information has always been a major tool for steering development and improving livelihood in the society living in the world today. On the other hand, access to information has been a challenge to the communities living in arid and semi arid regions. ALIN has taken the lead to ensure that access to information is a ‘Dream come true’ to all people living in these regions and at no cost.
Nguruman Maarifa center is a community knowledge center that has been giving free access to information to communities living together in this area since its establishment way back in 2006. This has brought impact within the community by enabling farmers improve their food production through adoption of best farming practices and pest control measures thus creating food security for their families.
Students also take their time and do their studies at the maarifa center during vacation due to its aesthetic environment for learning.
The center has also been a rich source of information about climate change mitigation and has gone further to train farmers on alternative sources of Energy for cooking other than wood fuel. Biogas energy has taken the place of wood fuel in three homesteads so far and more pending requests for installations put forward. The center has also enabled the youth secure jobs through free ICT skills they acquire from the center.
Mr. Lodaro, a farmer and a youth had this to say;
“I have been able to improve my farming and computer skills through free access to services at the Maarifa center. I am now able to type and print and through the knowledge I got from the books I read at the Maarifa center, I am able to identify and control crop pests attacking crops at my farm.”
Mr. Leonard Ndungu, a youth who has benefited from free access to information had countless testimonies to give. This is what he had to say;
“I have used the internet to search market for Jatropha seeds, sold lots of kilograms, I got research assistant job with a Canadian lady doing her thesis on bio fuel, became a member of bio fuel development in Africa through free access to internet.”
Due to free access and ICT knowledge acquired at the Maarifa center, Mr. Lenard has been able to create a community blog and this is what he had to say;
“knowledge on blogging has helped me create job for myself with well established tour firm, Loita safaris trekks, I have also created lots of casual job for the youths who work as guides, potters, cooks whenever there are visitors.”
“I have managed to market Nguruman as perfect gateway destination, we even featured in international new york travel magazine and locally in the Saturday Magazine travel by Rupi Mangat, Saturday Nation April 2, 2011,” he added.
“At the moment I have a new job with a small media and publishing firm Global vision digital solution as a sales executive a job I applied through the Nguruman Maarifa center....am able to use web 2 tools because of the knowledge gained there.”
Ladies were not left out as they also had testimonies to give about free access to information. Naomi Tonkey, Community Knowledge Facilitator at Nguruman Maarifa center had this to say;
“ Before I knew about the Maarifa center, I knew nothing about computers, but now I can operate a computer and share what have learned with other youths around. I now have a web mail and a facebook account. I have also attended several information exchange workshops organized by ALIN and other partners like PELUM (participatory ecological land use management)."
The physically challenged had also a say on how the Maarifa center has helped them. Mr. Kasifu, disabled representative had this to say;
“ I have been able to successfully submit proposals to donors in support for Tuko disabled group initiative through proposal writing and computer basic skills I acquired at the Maarifa center. I have also been able to open the groups blog that highlights issues of disabled people within Magadi division and Email address through free internet access at the center.”
Some of the students pass by the maarifa centre after school to do their extra studies.
Services offered at the Maarifa center are:
• Internet access
• Basic computer knowledge
• E-government services e.g., KRA pin registration
• Mult-media content
• Online market information
• Advisory services
All services are offered free of charge.