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Reminiscing Ngarua Maarifa Centre work in 2015

By Bob Aston

Established in 2007 by the Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), Ng’arua Marifa Centre in Ol-Moran Ward at Laikipia West Sub County has been facilitating learning and skills transfer among communities embracing a culture of knowledge sharing.
The Maarifa Centre has been offering free services that include Library services, E-government services, multimedia content, internet access, citizen journalism training, ICT training, advisory services, publications like Baobab, Joto Afrika, and Laikipia Mali Asili, SOKO+ and Farm Records Management Information System (FARMIS-Kenya).
The Maarifa Centre has also hosted a Natural Resource Management (NRM) and Sustainable Land Management (SLM) knowledge sharing Mazingira Centre.
Beneficiaries of one of ALIN`s initiative
This year more than 2,000 community members have benefited through various services at the Maarifa Centre. In addition, 721 farmers benefited through field days and workshops.
The Centre has been instrumental in sharing knowledge with farmers through organizing open learning days, exchange visits, outreach events, video documentations, and articles aimed at farmers and pastoralists.
The year at a glance
During the year, ALIN through the Maarifa Centre successfully completed the implementation of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Program (SGP) project titled: “Enhancing Communities’ Participation for effective Natural Resources management and Enhanced Resilience in Laikipia County.”
The project offered a platform for knowledge sharing between partners supported by UNDP under GEF SGP. The project saw the inception of Laikipia Mali Asili newsletter while 30 grantees and other partners received citizen journalism training.
The year also saw the successful completion of Climate Smart Agriculture project in Matwiku area. The project aimed to strengthen communities’ resilience to impacts of climate change while conserving natural resources in Laikipia County.
Members of Matwiku Horticulture Growers Self Help Group were capacity built on drip irrigation installation, water harvesting technologies, plant protection, harvesting, value addition, marketing and climate smart Agriculture.
ALIN through the Maarifa Centre also increased capacity-building support for Laikipia Produce and Marketing Cooperative Society during the year. The cooperative emerged from the work undertaken by ALIN with the support of the Ford Foundation’s Expanding Livelihoods for Poor Households Initiative (ELOPHI).
Three years down the line, the cooperative is among the fastest growing in Laikipia West Sub County and farmers have started benefiting through various services from the cooperative.
Strengthening maize, tree tomato, and tomato value chains has been a key achievement during the year. Through a participatory approach in 2013, farmers had identified the three value chains as the priority areas in the ward.
ALIN through the Maarifa Centre has held workshops and field days for farmers involved in the three value chains. Such forums have enabled them to enhance their production skills, share production, and marketing experiences, enhance systematic record keeping, and create linkages. Investing in the three value chains is an ideal way of promoting inclusive economic growth.
In addition, the Maarifa Centre also collaborated with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, MEA Ltd and Laikipia Produce and Marketing Cooperative Society in establishing five conservation agriculture demonstration plots.
Social media platforms reach
The Laikipia Rural Voices (LRV) and Ng’arua Maarifa Centre blogs have reached a wider audience this year. The blogs have been highlighting community local issues, development initiatives, farmer innovations, climate change adaptation, climate smart agriculture, natural resource management, successes, and issues faced by youths in agriculture, environmental conservation, and other livelihood issues.
ALIN Christmas card
Blog articles shared through LRV this year are 203 while articles shared through Ng’arua Marifa centre blog stands at 106 this year. Blog visitors now stand at 119,104 and 82,464 for LRV and Ng’arua Maarifa Centre blog respectively.
Some messages received through the various social media channels have really been uplifting. Such responses show that many people appreciate what the Maarifa has been doing.
“I am impressed by the work you are doing to help improve the livelihood of my people in Laikipia West. I am always enlightened as a resident and as a professional based so many miles away from home,” said Steve Kamario.
Special thanks go to all the partners, blog readers as well as community members who have been contributing articles and helped make 2015 an intense year.
These being the last blog post in 2015, ALIN through Ng’arua Maarifa Centre would like to wish all their readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May this year’s Christmas end the present year on a cheerful note and make way for a fresh and bright new year.