Wednesday, December 5, 2012

New wind energy for Nguruman Maarifa centre

Nguruman Maarifa centre runs running on solar energy to power computers since its establishment way back in 2005. The journey has not been so easy since whenever there was less sunshine, then power put put from solar energy was low inhibiting smooth operations of the centre. In 2010, a power back-up generator was bought to address the power needs of the centre that also offered communities social entertainment and opportunity to follow the world cup games that were held in south Africa.

Community members recognized the efforts put in place by ALIN to ensure there is continued access to information and that no community member would visit the centre and go unattended to.

"We have been keen to ensure that no community member goes without accessing information by reporting the challenges on time. We thank ALIN and the technical team for ensuring that all our requests are addressed..." said Mr. kasifu, the advisory committee chairman.

ALIN technical team kept in touch with the staff on the ground to follow up on progress while they engaged other professionals for a permanent solution to the problem. A visit by Focus Energy technical staff gave a sign of relief to the ALIN field team. Focus Energy Solutions is a company that installs and distributes renewable energy souces like wind and solar to commmunities.

"When I saw the wind power technician, I saw it as the best option to address power issues once and for all ..." said Kelvin Koinet, in charge of ICT training.

The wind turbine is meant to boost the solar system during cloudy days when there is usually a lot of wind. The new source of energy is integrated to the existing solar energy giving a solar-wind hybrid system with more energy output. The system came amidst campaigns by different stakeholders and lobby groups to persuade community members to embrace renewable energy technologies and help mitigate climate change.

Focus Energy technitian assembling wind turbine.  photo by Lucky Martins
News on the wind power system spread widely and Community members came in large numbers to see the technology which is new to the area with majority visiting the site on Sunday.

"We are amazed by the technology and thank ALIN for bringing it closer to us.. I have only been hearing that wind can generate power but I haven't seen the system..." said one old man on site.

Community members could not hide their joy as they praised the initiative taken by ALIN to ensure that, they get continued quality Maarifa centre services.

"I am now happy that, I will not be using a generator during training since it's not reliable, economical and is noisy thus affecting concentration by my students... it also runs on petrol and pollutes the air!... Thanks to ALIN for the action taken..." said Kelvin Koinet amid a broad smile..

"We are happy to have the system on site since it will be easy for us to show the community how they can tap the renewable energy opportunities within their reach... we are also glad to have continued power supply since this will enable us access information at all times and tap the power to our offices nearby... Thanks to ALIN for the initiative..." said Mr. Mathu, Agricultural environment officer.

"I feel motivated to use the facility to my maximum... I appreciate efforts that ALIN has put in place to address the power issue..." Said Emmanuel Chichi, a student and a regular Maarifa centre user.

Installed wind turbine at the Maarifa centre compound. Photo by Samuel Nzioka
As part of awareness creation to communities on renewable energy resources,  the Nguruman Maarifa centre demonstrates use of solar and biogas systems by communities, the additional wind energy resource is a boost to the many options available that can be used in remote areas. The centre plans  to start demonstrations on affordable solar lanterns as an alternative lighting system for communities.

Nguruman maarifa centre in collaboration with Africa Solar Designs a company that promotes low cost solar lelectric systems will elect one community member to be trained on renewable energy sources  later this month at masai mara. This will be in bid with ALIN's concern for community involvement in community development projects and also capacity building the community members on maintenance and repair so they can be able to tackle technical challenges accompaning the technologies.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Farmers advised to form marketing groups for better market prices

For a long period, farmers  within Nguruman irrigation scheme have been selling their farm produce to middle men who offer low prices for their produce. This has been a recurring occurance for quite a long time and this has drawn attention of stakeholders working around Nguruman probing intervention of Horticultural Crops Development Authority (HCDA). 

Joint efforts between ministry of Agriculture officers (MOA) and ALIN staff came as a wake up call to farmers who showed interest to have access to better marketing strategies. A meeting was then called to identify brokers and on-farm buyers who were given a notice present their business licence to HCDA staff for verification. the news came as a relief to farmers as they were taken through gross margin analysis.

Farmers being taken through gross margin analysis Exercise at MOA grounds. Photo by Samuel Nzioka
The exercise was participatory and farmers were divided in groups according to the crop they produce where they discussed the cost of all inputs divide by the total production per acreage. The costs gave them the least buying price they should accept for their farm produce. To their surprise, they found out that they had been selling their produce at a loss. For instance, the cost of producing one carton of okra (Asian vegetable) was Kshs 128.00 and they have been selling a carton at Ksh, 100 or even sometimes at 80.00.

Divisional Agricultural Extension Officer (DAEO) Mr. Bainito Atonya advised the farmers to form marketing groups which will sign a contract with the exporters and supervised by MOA and HCDA to ensure that terms of the contract are not breached. Farmers were also advised to abide to the terms by ensuring they produce as per the agreement. The MOA and HCDA agreed to impose tough sanctions to brokers and exporters who will be found exploiting farmers an offence that will mean cancellation of their licence.

Addressing the meeting, the DAEO encouraged the farmers to make use of information material available at the Maarifa in order to embrace modern technology and learn the best practices other farmers are using in other parts of the world.  

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Reaching out to Nguruman community

Nguruman Maarifa centre has been on the fore front to ensure that Nguruman community members have hands on with modern technologies and information as other people within the urban setting. Despite the challenges the community members are facing, majority are determined and willing embrace new technologies and information disseminated.

With the majority of people living within Maarifa centre vicinity being reached, Nguruman Maarifa centre embarked on an outreach programme in order to reach out to people within other locations. Olkiramatian market day marks the day when traders, buyers and all other members from other location within and beyond Magadi division meet to trade or even have a drink as they chat in  groups. 

Traders watching a video during one of the past visits
The market day held on Wednesday every week is the main meeting point for traders and customers around the location and beyond. We have have seen people from within and far enrol for ICT training being offered at the Maarifa centre and others coming for general enquiries as a result of the visits. Community members who have received on-site services like Internet access welcomed the initiative citing that It will go far to address community information needs. Animal production video shows got the most interest since majority of the community members are pastoralists

The video below was produced during one of the visits.

Monday, October 22, 2012

E-government services gaining momentum as more civil servants receive ICT training

Many public servants working within and around Nguruman have been visiting Nguruman Maarifa centre frequently either to update their GHRIS profile or have their payslip printed for them among other on-line services. The Kenyan Government some times back decided to embrace technology and allow its workers to access some services on-line to ease congestion within their office premises. This trend has forced government workers to either seek for help to access the services or get trained on the skills and access them without much help.

Nguruman Maarifa centre has been conducting systematic computer training since January and has seen a number of civil servants receive their training. "More than 30 civil servants including Teachers, chiefs and Nurses among others have been trained on computer usage skills and can access these services on their own..." said Kelvin Koinet, computer trainer.

Entasopia Primary School Teachers during ICT training lessons. 
Maureen Omondi, a teacher at Entasopia primary school reported improvement in teachers interest for ICT's since they completed   their training on May, 2012. "I have seen teachers interest in use of computers since they got the skills... Personally, I can confidently access any on-line service and also make use of other on-line information resources. The training was of great benefit to us...". she said.

Mrs Ann Sandera also said that, the school has received some laptops from well wishers though they lack power to run the machines... "We received laptops from friends of our school... though have the skills, we are unable to use the machines since we don't have power to run them..." she lamented.

She welcomed well wishers who wish  to support them with power solar to come forth so the machines can be of benefit to them. "Since we have the skills, we don't need to pay for typing services... we can do it ourselves...the challenge we face is power for our machines..." she added

Chief Sereu, also a ICT training beneficiary said that, he was able to use many features on his laptop which he wasn't able to use before the training... "I have learned many things during the training which I underutilized while using my laptop..." he said. He has been on the lead to sensitize his community members on the importance of having computer skills and why they need to take opportunity and utilize the free computer training. "You will never find free training anywhere in this world... make use of the opportunity you have now..." said on his speech during launching of the Maarifa centre.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Access to library sharpens students’ dreams

At the height of teachers’ strike which paralysed learning across the country, Nguruman Maarifa library was a beehive of activities seeing students coming from far and wide for their private studies while others borrowed books for reading at home. Being the only resource centre around Nguruman with curriculum textbooks and other relevant reading materials, students flocked to have access to the library resources. 

Monica Mwangi, form three student at Patterson memorial studying at the Maarifa centre library
Fanklin Saitoti, a form one student at Patterson Memorial Secondary School said that, though teachers strike had a negative effect on their studies, he had an opportunity to utilize the Maarifa centre library to do his studies… “I have been using the Maarifa centre library to read ahead of the teacher and I trust this will help me catch up with what my teachers will teach when studies resume… this has also kept me busy and helped me refrain from bad company…” added Frank.

Emmanuel Kimeu, a form three student at the same school had a different version of the story… “I have learned how to use computers from the Maarifa centre and when I feel tired after reading at the centres’ library, I take 20 minutes to get to social media and connect with my on-line friends before embarking to my studies… Thanks to the supporters of the facility…” He added.

One of the teachers, Mrs Maureen Omondi who has always been following to know whether the students are utilizing the facility backed the initiative and wished all students could realize its importance… “I have my thumps up for students who are utilizing the facility and I wish to encourage all students to make use of the facility… thanks to ALIN for the initiative and support…” she added…

The same sentiments have been echoed by local leaders while addressing community members during a past event. Mr Kamango ole Nkaleyia during the re-launch of the Maarifa centre encouraged the community members have hands on with the modern technology otherwise ‘they will remain in darkness while the other world is enjoying light’…” Senior Chief Mr. Sereu also encouraged community members to utilize the facility sighting that, he is one of the beneficiaries since he has been a computer student and was graduating after completing his training… “I have received this certificate today because I have qualified and have every reason to invite you for the same…” he said holding high his certificate.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Linking Farmers to Exporters

Farmers in Nguruman must begin approaching production from a business point of view. The District Agricultural Officer Mr. Henry Siro advised farmers that agriculture as a livelihood practice, it should be able to provide profits to the farmers otherwise it’s a futile endeavor.

He was speaking at a meeting organized by Nguruman Irrigation Water Users Association (IWUA) that brought together farmers, Horticultural Crops Development Authority (HCDA) representatives, Exporters, Brokers and the Ministry of Agriculture to address low crop prices and market problems facing horticultural produce for export.

Mr. Henry Siro, D.A.O addressing farmers and exporters during a meeting. Photo by Joshua Kisemei
He said that farmers in Nguruman have Kenya Agricultural Research Institute and the Ministry to educate them and guide them on how to practice profitable farming. He also urged the exporters to buy products in a price that will benefit farmers.

Mr. Joseph Sirai, IWUA chair, in the introductions said that the market structures for horticultural produce in Nguruman was efficient a few years back but brokers and other intermediaries have spoiled the market and crop prices.

Makindu Growers and Packers, the main exporters in Nguruman, complained that produce from farmers are not stable since farmers sell to brokers when their prices are high. The exporter complained that farmers are not giving the recommended harvest period for chemicals sprayed. He recommended that for produce to be competitive in the market and to fetch good prices, it should be of good quality.

Farmers requested that a plan of action should be put in place to develop ways that the market for horticultural produce will be streamlined so that they can benefit from their farm produce. Farmers should have contracts with their brokers and exporters to balance the supply and prices.

HCDA announced the enforcing of laws regarding the registration of all agents operating in horticultural produce has been enacted. They instructed all agents and brokers working in Nguruman to register before 31st October 2012. All agents will be required to present a list of the farmers supplying them with produce. Those farmers who do not want to register under an agent can join farmer groups and sell directly to the exporters.

The farmers agreed to abide with the set rules and in one voice promised to work with relevant authorities to address the issue of middle men who make a kill out of their produce while they suffer losses.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Nguruman Maarifa centre re-launched in style

Information communication technology has taken over all aspects of life and has proved to be a powerful tool for economic and social development. It has also bridged digital divide by fostering equitable access to modern communication technologies. Nguruman area was once ear marked among the 10 most remote tech locations in the world. ( Nguruman Maarifa centre has been instrumental in bridging the gap and now the residents has something to smile about at last.
Nguruman Maarifa centre on 10th August, 2012 had the first formal ICT training graduation held in style where more than ten stakeholders participated in an open day and more than 200 community members attended the pass out which was graced by District Agricultural Officer (DAO)Mr. Henry Siro assisted by Area DO.Mr. Japeth Bikhanga. The activity which had its theme "Using information technology for sustainable livelihoods in Nguruman" kicked off at around 10.00 am where stakeholders had enough time to explain to community members the efforts they are putting to incorporate information technology to improve community's  livelihoods.
Guest of honour inspecting AMREF stand during the open day.
The main stake holders who participated included; AMREF Kenya who were showcasing clean light that uses waste paper and used kitchen oil among other reproductive health matters, Entasopia health centre taught people matters on healthy nutrition practices.African Conservation Centre was also represented and informed participants matters concerning biodiversity conservation and people-wildlife conflict.
Agro-chemical companies like Osho and Sygenta also participated among community groups groups who displayed their products and explained their activities to participants. .
Area Chief Mr. Sereu receiving certificates from the chief guest on behalf of government officials. 
From the speeches made by the days speakers, it  was evident that the Maarifa centre has had a great role in sharpening skills  for Nguruman ICT gurus  . Mr. kasifu,  the advisory commitee chair  had this to say; "I had no idea on how to operate a computer..., I can now type and send my documents via e-mail. I have been  table to participate in business management training course at USIU university through application I made at the Maarifa centre".Chief Sereu had also his side to tell... "I have been able to update my GHRIS details and also as an administration student at Kenyatta university, I have been able to download  exams as well as sending my assignments at the Maarifa centre..., Thanks to ALIN for the facility."

Mr. Anthony Mugo, deputy Director at ALIN assured commuity members that, ALIN will do all it can to ensure that all services offered to them are timely and dress their daily challenges and information needs.

The guest of honour Mr. Henry Siro in his speech made it clear that its governments interest that every Kenyan citizen becomes ICT compliant and that, in the near future for one to get employment, He/she will be required to be having International computer driving licence (ICDL).  
Some Students displaying their certificates after the graduation ceremony.
The guest of honour issued certificates of participation to 62 graduates who had completed their training.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Information guarantees alternative livelihood to a crops farmer

Changing climatic conditions have resulted to minimal rainfall amounts, a situation that has resulted to recurrent food shortages. Nguruman area has been known to have sufficient water for irrigation all year round. This has not been the case for the last two years and many farmers are now forced to reduce their acreage or diversify their farming options. Lack of promising markets and poor infrastructure has also contributed greatly to losses incurred by farmers.
Mr. Chege attending to his tomato crop
Mr. Peter Njoroge Chege one of the farmers came to Nguruman in Jan 2011 purposely to farm, so he rents a house in Entasopia shopping centre and also a farm to cultivate in the agriculture area.
Mr. Njoroge later learned that challenges that face farmers in Nguruman like hardships in access to the Markets at Kiserian, Rongai and Nairobi due to poor infrastructure increase production costs for farmers reducing their profits and sometime leading to heavy losses.
 Mr. Peter Chege feeding his poultry
‘I learned that apart from crop farming, I also needed to incorporate other micro agric businesses so that I maximize my profits in the area because I incur a lot of expenses’ Said Mr Njoroge. ‘I wanted a small scale agri-business I can easily handle and make something out of it with minimal expenses so I had two options, chicken and rabbit’ he explained .

In April 2011, Mr. Njuguna decided engage in poultry keeping. With little knowledge about poultry Mr. Njuguna visited Nguruman Maarifa centre to find out more information about the practice.
‘I went to the library section and found a number of interesting books that provided me with a lot of information about diseases, brooding and treatment’ says Mr. Njoroge. ‘At that time I only had 4 chickens’ He added
Poultry scavenging for greens.
Mr. Njoroge says he chose poultry because they are a quick source of income, they are easy to maintain and they are free range – they are allowed to move around the compound looking for food. He gets regular income from eggs and sometimes he sells the chicken.

 ‘I also learned that to maintain a steady egg production the chicks should be separated from their mothers’… he adds. His chicken also supplements his family diet providing much needed proteins. They also provide income through egg and live chicken sales.
Some of the challenges Mr. Njoroge faces includes diseases, predators and feeding challenges. He uses aloevera to treat all diseases that affect his poultry.

Monday, July 30, 2012

upcoming open day

Nguruman Maarifa centre advisory committee in collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture invites you to participate at an information exchange open day at the Maarifa centre on 10th August, 2012 starting from 10.00 am. All invited stakeholders will be allocated stands to showcase their products and activities.
The day’s theme will be ‘Using information technology for sustainable livelihoods in Nguruman’

Thursday, July 26, 2012

New technology for KCPE cadidates

Candidates from Entasopia primary visited Nguruman Maarifa Centre on Saturday 21st July, 2012 to get a first touch on computers.
Their class teacher, Mrs. Beatrice said, she taught a lesson on communication techniques on Friday and she mentioned our Maarifa to be an available source of ICT services. It’s from that point that the students requested the teacher to plan a visit to Nguruman Maarifa Center to learn on the use of Computers for Communication.

‘Although the candidates schedule is tight for they are preparing for their national exams, they requested me to plan a visit to the centre for them during lunch hour when they finish Saturday revision’ Said the class teacher.

  Entasopia Primary school Students viewing Maarifa centre blog.
Computers was the main interest having a number of reasons as they mentioned access to information, means of communication, social networking and entertainment as the key motivational points.
Mrs. Beatrice Nyambura completed her computer training along with other eight teachers in July 2012 at the maarifa centre. They were trained in introduction to computers, Microsoft Word 2007, Microsoft Excel 2007, Microsoft PowerPoint and internet.
The teacher said it would be good to start cultivating the students’ interest early. Kelvin Koinet, ICT trainer at the Maarifa centre, took them through a preview of computers whereby they got to grasp a few but valued skills on computer operation. The students learnt about types of computers, parts, booting and entering web addresses to search for information in the net.
They got a chance to operate a computer for the first time where they viewed the centre’s blog and were also taught how to shut down the machine.
Students and their teacher posing for a photo outside the Maarifa centre expressing their excitement.
It was a short visit that made the students come back to the maarifa centre after school and have more time to enjoy the services. They even decided to join the computer classes when they complete  their national exams and before they join high school.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Rabbit keeping amidst climate change adaptation

Climate change is believed to be pushing human population to adapt to other livelihood means other than the usual traditionally known for each community. Small stock keeping has been the only option left for pastoral communities which used to hold on to large heads of livestock. Due to land degradation systems and reduced rainfall amounts, having access to  quality pasture has been a night mare and therefore the animals have either died or reduced their body conformation to sizes which fetch very low market prices or otherwise give low quality meat.
Adapting to the new means of livelihoods has not been easy for the communities and it may take them some time to fully adapt to these changes. Some have opted to go for poultry farming, fish farming, rabbit keeping and or bee keeping while others are keeping dairy goats for milk production as these activities doesn’t require their full attention and give them time to do other activities as well.

Mrs. Esther Wateri or ‘Mama Wamboi’ as they call her turned to rabbit keeping following a visit to home where she found her brothers making a kill out of rabbit keeping. “On March 2011, I visited my home in kikuyu and found many of my relatives keeping rabbit and some buyers coming to buy as many as 50 pieces of mature ones at Kshs 2,500 for supplying big hotels in Nairobi and therefore I was motivated to engage in the enterprise…,” she said.
Mrs. Wateri feeding her rabbits
She begun to search for more information on rabbit keeping and she therefore visited the Maarifa centre to learn more on rabbit keeping and their diseases, housing and general management.  
“I borrowed a book from the Maarifa centre on backyard rabbit farming in the tropics and this gave me information that I wanted to start the enterprise..,” she said. She begun with two does and one buck and now she has 15.

“I chose rabbit keeping because they are easy to manage and are less prone to diseases… Their feeds are also locally available and they litter quickly since their gestation period is only two months and one doe can litter up to 12 kindles…”
Her enterprise has not left her without challenges. “Feeding and cleaning their houses takes me a lot of time though my children help me to collect feeds after school. Once I secure a market for the product, I’m planning to employ a person to look after them… I have lost 9 kindles over the last two months as a result of wet feeds and when I referred to the book realized the problem and changed the feed, there have been no more deaths since,” she added.
Rabbits feeding on supplement pellets
She anticipates selling breeding stock to her neighbours so that when she gets a bigger market, she can buy from them. She also admits that people need to familiarize themselves with other sources of meat adding that, rabbit meat is tasty and is low in cholesterol.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Young environmentalists visits the Maarifa centre

Students from Patterson memorial secondary school environmental club paid a visit to the Maarifa centre on Sunday on their field tour to Nguruman area. Accompanied by three teachers, the 54 students were excited to have a touch of technology when they were given opportunities to operate computers, got to know the parts and their functions as well as knowing other equipments used along with the computers like scanner, digital camera and a printer.
Patterson memorial students being introduced to computers at the Maarifa centre
They  were also informed of all other services offered at the Maarifa centre and most interestingly, they all wanted to enrol for computer training.

The students were also excited with library services and publications like Baobab and Joto Africa were of great interest to many. They wished the centre was close to their school so that they can fully utilise the facility. They requested if they could be allowed to borrow books from the library through their school and they were informed to organize with the teachers and draft the subject areas they feel that they need Maarifa centre support then action can be taken immediately.   

Patterson memorial students at the Maarifa centre library
Mr Mathu, the divisional Agricultural extension officer  took the students through green house drip irrigation system where students taking Agriculture as a subject had many questions to ask. The students were interested to know inter-row and inter-crop spacing in drip irrigation system and were professionally answered by the officer in charge. Mr. Mathu also urged the students not to look down upon Agriculture since its the backbone of our countries economy and that they need to come up with innovations which will help improve the current systems.
Mr. Mathu explaining  green house drip irrigation system to students 
The students expressed their desire to be trained on computer skills and appreciated the services offered by the Maarifa centre. The same sentiments were echoed by their teacher Mr. Jeremiah Kutanya adding that, students from Nguruman area have advantage over others and have shown competence in computers because they do their training during school recess. He urged the Maarifa centre management to plan and see how they can train the students at school since they have computers which are not optimally utilized.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Olkiramatian Open day

Nguruman maarifa centre visited traders at the Olkiramatian market during a field visit intended at reaching those people who cannot access the services at the Maarifa center. The market day that is held on Wednesday every week is the main meeting point of traders and customers around the location and beyond.
Traders arrive at OLkiramatian market
The open day was done in collaboration with African Conservation centre which promotes environmental conservation in the area and React Africa Company who promotes renewable energy forms like Energy saving jikos and solar panels and solar chargeable lights.

Community members recording their enquiries to Kelvin, Lorene & Joe 
The visit was a good platform for community members to share their knowledge and record enquiries on information they may want during our next visit. They were also informed on services offered at the Maarifa centre and to many, distance was the barrier. It was also an opportunity to publicize the Maarifa centre and its activities. 

Members of the Maarifa centre offered a number of services to the traders on location at the market. The services included; internet services, library services, video show and addressing general inquiries and consultations. Information materials like Joto Africa and Baobab magazines were also distributed for free to the residents.

A Community member reading through joto Africa issue 7 on the future of pastoralism in changing climate which caught attention of many readers
One of the services that raised the most interest was computer training which most of the parents were interested in either joining or bringing their children after they completed their A levels. As a result of the visit, three parents have brought their daughters to the Maarifa centre for computer training..., "I saw this as a good opportunity to have my daughter trained for free that going to town and pay for the same packages. I will use the money I intended to pay her computer course to pay school fees for her brothers and sisters..." said Patrick Parseiyo, one of the parents.

Community members viewing a video on Boran cattle breed.
Regular users of the maarifa centre hailed the field visit commending that the visit will enable those people who cannot access the Nguruman centre to access these services that are otherwise inaccessible to them. We recorded over 100 visitors and 24 enquiries.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Farmers suffer great losses as flash floods paralyze transport.

Farmers in Nguruman area are counting losses after their fresh produce failed to reach the targeted markets due to lack of transport. The produce which is picked thrice per week has not been picked up  for the last  four days and the farmers are worried that the situation may get worse after a truck ferrying export vegetables and a number of people from Nguruman sank in the middle of Lake Magadi today in the morning.

A vehicle ferrying fresh produce after it fell off the track.
(Photo by Dan Kivuva)
The incidence comes two days after Tata Chemicals closed all the roads that cross Lake Magadi following observations that the lake was flooding and increasingly dangerous to travelers and goods on transit.
Drivers and some passengers have been ignoring warnings by the Company and other people on the danger presented by the increasing rain especially on the road from Nguruman to Kiserian
‘That lake has been risky since the flooding started but people still insist on traveling past it. People should take this as a warning and thank God nobody got hurt’, Said Wairimu, a business woman at the Entasopia Market
With lack of preservative measures in Nguruman, the vegetables are either left to overgrow in the farms or picked and thrown away. Perishable farm goods that are being transported from Nguruman to markets in Kiserian and Nairobi and some for export have been spoiling since vehicles spent about two or three days crossing from Magadi to Kiserian.
Ripe paw paws at one of the farmers farm
‘Vehicles were not allowed past Magadi Township for the last three days’. Says Mr John, a farmer in Nguruman. ‘Our farm goods are getting spoiled on the road to the markets and others at our farms since transporters have to wait for the water that is blocking the road to clear or reduce’.

Passengers being rescued on top of a nissan matatu
 after it was submerged at Kamukuru
 (along Magadi - Kiserian road)

On Monday the 7th of May 2012 along Magadi road transport was temporarily paralyzed after raging floods swept off a bridge at Kamukuru.
Travelers were forced to spend the night on the road waiting for the water to subside as Ostrich Services; the only bus service from Nguruman was stuck in the middle of the road/river for two days.
The vehicles have to stop at the various spots where flood water covers the road and test the waters before making a decision to wait or to continue with the journey.
A number of schools in the area have extended their holiday for a week in order to allow students and teachers time to reach their schools. Secondary school students that have to travel past Magadi are not allowed by their parents to report due to the difficulties presented by the floods.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Nguruman maarifa centre gets a new look

Nguruman maarifa center received a well fabricated container and another separate structure to be use as the library to enable more community members access free library and internet services among other services offered at the maarifa centre. The structures were also equipped with state of art equipments and this has enabled efficient services and usage by the community members.
This came along as free ICDL training was on progress and community members were very impressed by ALIN's initiatives and enabling equitable access to information for all community members.

"I'm impressed by the move to equip the maarifa centre with modern technology equipments. As much as we may be far from the city and other developed areas we feel that ALIN has really connected us with the outside world..." said Mr mathu, an Agricultural extension officer who uses the centre to send his monthly and quarterly reports. " I'm able to send my reports on time and even earlier than people who are in town" he added.

The centre moved to a new location, i.e. Magadi division Ministry of Agriculture grounds at Entasopia market and this will enable us to reach out to more farmers who are our primary target as a way of improving their livelihoods through delivery of timely information.

The ongoing ICDL training has had a positive impact to the youths who are even empowered to volunteer their services to train other youths who have the passion to be techno survy.. "I feel empowered and I am ready to train others. Its my first time and I'm confident I will make it in life..." said Lourine Maingi, a beneficiary of the training.

The maarifa centre is recording the highest number of users daily since it was established way back in 2005.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Agri-sivilculture in Nguruman

Agri-sivilculture is a system of farming whereby one cultivates fruits trees and integrates with crops. This is usually a better way of maintaining and increasing soil fertility especially in these Arid and semi-arid lands(ASALs'). Mr. Lodaro a farmer in Nguruman said he has to put up nurseries under a tree that provides shade seedlings from withering.

Mr. Lodaro emphasized that he has to plant other trees although he has mango, lemon and orange trees and bananas; he has planted Gravellier Robusta for his own use since he needs trees for timber and other purposes in his day to day life.
Mr. Lodaro said that the information he gets from Maarifa Centre; from the internet and other publication e.g. Joto Africa, has enabled him to understand that different species of trees enhances soil fertility. Explaining, he said that the foliage residues from trees form a basement on topsoil making it retain moisture and adds nutrients to soil; this enables him not to use fertilizers when farming.

Mr. Lodaro said that this diversification has reduced resource costs and labor which has made him maximize his farm profits and create time for other activities.
‘Although I had opted on this as a form of farming for commercial purposes, I later learned of its environmental benefits and I had to increase my acreage.’ Said Mr. Lodaro who has increased his acreage from one acre to three acres.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Enhancing computer literacy in Nguruman

Thanks to the free training at Nguruman Maarifa Center, residents are now able to operate computers with very little or no help at all.
Their sheer determination and iron will to overcome Computer illiteracy drives them on. The old generation are very determined not to be left behind by the young generation. Always keeping time, always willing to learn and ready to apply whatever they have learnt.
Asked what they will like to achieve after the training(where they think the training will come in handy in their lives, this is what they had to say:

"I would like to use the internet to access information, gain more knowledge and learn how to improve my farming livelihood. Am really grateful for the training", says Joseph Mwangi.(photo above)
"There were a lot of things i saw on my laptop that I did not understand, but now am able to understand my laptop fully," Chief Sereu
"After the training i will be using ms excel to keep track of my products financially and record wise. I will be using the internet to advertise my farm products", Francis Mburu (Farmer)

Turnout is positive with more enrolling for training. follow the below link for training pictorial.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Oldest computer trainee

For a long time Mr. Stephen Kamau has been a regular maarifa centre user. Now 60 years old, Mr. Kamau has always grown interest to be computer literate but his daily chores never allowed him to. "I have been trying hard to gain computer skills, but it has not been easy for me since I have a lot to do in my farm". His farm located a few kilometers from the maarifa centre has various types of crops including; Maize, beans, tomatoes and fruits like papaws and bananas.

Making the right decision
When Mr. kamau got the information about the computer training, he had to make the right choice, either to be left out or register for the training. "When I saw the advert about free computer training, I decided to register for it and gain the skills I have been yearning to have".

When asked how he feels about the training, this is what he had to say...
"I had never touched a computer in my life time... I can now boot a computer and perform some tasks on my own... Thanks to ALIN for this opportunity".

A message to the youth
when asked his advice to young generation, this is what he said...
"I wish the young people could know the opportunity they have... During our times, such opportunities were history".

He always advises young people to take up such opportunities to develop themselves.
"If this training opportunity could come during our times, we could be far much better than we are... Now that the world is advancing in technology, the youth should be in the front line to embrace this change".
Mr. Kamau likes reading magazines and books and his main interest is poultry farming.
“I would like to use the acquired skills to learn more about poultry farming from online materials and the secret behind the success of the enterprise in other regions”. Said Mr kamau when asked how he will apply the acquired skills.

Friday, January 27, 2012

What Biogas technolology users have to say

Nguruman residents had something to smile at as ALIN rolled down Biogas tubular technology as a way of responding to climate change. Due to notable decrease in vegetation regeneration as a result of climate change and deforestation, community members needed an alternative source of energy for cooking other than firewood. Biogas technology was the option they landed at after reading an article in Baobab magazine featuring tubular biogas technology in Uganda and due to availability of raw materials for running the system which are, organic wastes and in this case, animal waste and water, they thought it was good technology to adopt.

They also put in consideration the benefits of using the technology like smoke free environment, reduced or no respiratory tract and chest complications, clean kitchen environment, saving time for other family chores and also that its a cheap technology to adopt.

The following video highlights what the families feels about the technology.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, the way to go.

The Arid Lands Information Network endeavors to improve livelihoods through access to information targeting to raise communities’ awareness of pertinent issues using ICT.
In pursuant of this noble objective, the network, with funding support from the Climate Development Network, has been implementing a six-month project to sensitize communities on climate change issues. The project aims to enhance community and decision makers’ awareness of effective and practical measures to adapt to climate change in East Africa to facilitate local adaptation strategies and to promote more responsive policymaking on climate change.

A key strategy in achieving the above objectives was to deliver two workshops to selected climate vulnerable areas. The workshops were meant to enhance community skills in handling climate challenges within the context of environmental conservation through best practices. The first workshop was held from Monday 21th – Tuesday 22nd November 2011 in Nguruman, Kajiado North District, Kenya.
The workshop brought together participants from Government, church, provincial administration, community-based organisations, media and facilitators.

Workshop objectives
The workshop set out to achieve the following objectives:
• Promote of understanding of climate change as a global crisis
• To improve the exchange of practical information on agricultural and climate change adaptation practices amongst the rural and agricultural communities
• Empower local governance structures to give input into national policymaking by enhancing local knowledge of adaptation and access to planning processes
• Contribute to participants’ capacity, knowledge and skills in environmental conservation through best practices such as green energy.

The design, structure and delivery of the workshop were greatly appreciated by
participants who now feel comfortable engaging in climate change mitigation
at a personal level. It is expected the training would have ripple effect in
improving environmental management towards food security.

Free computer literacy for Nguruman residents

Nguruman residents begun their new year with smiles on their faces as they actively registered themselves for the long awaited computer training classes. community members showed different reactions regarding response to the call.

"I was surprised to see so many people registering for the training....," said Kelvin Koinet, a training consultant at the Maarifa centre.

"Its so encouraging to see people thirsting for knowledge.." aded Mr. Kasifu,a community member and chairman to the advisory commitee.

Community members from all categories registered for the training including; chiefs, teachers, pupils, farmers and youth especially form four leavers. 84 community members registered for the training and the numbers are expected to go up since the training will be ongoing.

Sofar, more than 60 people have begun the training and all is well according to Mr kennedy, who is the trainer. "I have had no problems with the students. They are all anxious and have shown willingness to learn."

New computers
The center was also equipped with the state of the art equipments, the latest computer model, 'inveneo' courtesy of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation 'Access to learning Award', a prestigious and highly competitive award which ALIN was declared the 2011 winner in recognition of the organisation's work in using ICT's to empower arid lands commuities by locating maarifa (knowledge) centres in remote arid lands across East Africa and providing free access to information resources, including the internet and library resources.

The training is offered for Free and to all willing community menbers.