Access to Learning Award (ATLA) is an award given by Bill and Belinda Gates Foundation each year to recognize the 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.
Arid lands information Networks (ALIN) are the 2011 winners. The award was given to recognize ALIN's work of connecting the marginalized communities in the Arid and semi Arid regions of East Africa with knowledge and information by setting up 12 Maarifa (Knowledge) centers.
The Maarifa centers acts as referral points to the communities and have library materials and computers connected with internet. All services at the Maarifa centers are offered free of charge and this gives the communities equal access to information.
Community members are also given a chance share ideas about farming and other livelihood issues through organize open days, Training, exchange visits and also through ALIN's publications (Baobab and Joto Africa where their needs are identified and addressed.
For more information about the award you can follow: