Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mutomo community voice on climate change

Mutomo District Community had a two ( 2 )day on climate change.The workshop, which took place at Mutomo Mission Hospital on 28th & 29th November 2011 attracted participants from Government Ministries,Church officials,the provincial administration,the media and Community Based Organizations.

ALIN’s Project Officer Ms.Esther Lung’ahi facilitated the workshop .She was assisted by District National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA )representative Mr.Pius Kasusya,who took participants through the National Climate Change Response Strategy (NCCRS ).Other speakers included district water officer Benjamin Munyala, Children's officer Janet Mwema and District Forest Officer Samuel Gachagua.

Workshop objectives

• Promote 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
policy making 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

During the workshop participants had interactive discussions on issues touching on climate change causes,stakeholder activities and mitigation suggestions.At the end of the workshop,members came up with an action plan.

Please follow this link to see the complete workshop report: Community discussions on climate change

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thank you for this great opportunity.

Seven students from St.Patrick's Secondary School who participated in the just completed Adobe Youth Voices have voiced their appreciation to ALIN and the Adobe Foundation for the great opportunity.Kindly follow this link and find out what they had to say This is our experience...youth talk

Their Information needs

Members of Muyuke Disabled People Group keenly listen during an information gaps identification outreach carried out by Mutomo Maarifa Centre to determine Community information gaps and needs.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Editing time!

These Adobe Youth Voices students had a great time editing their final projects at the Maarifa Centre

Monday, October 31, 2011

A learning session

These St.Patricks's students participating in the Adobe Youth Voices had a very successful photo shooting session where they shot photos in line with climate change,its contribution to poverty levels and how it affects their school life.These are some students' photos during the session.For more on the training kindly visit their blog: YOUTH VOICE

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Youth say….through photography

Thirty students from St.Patrick’s High School in Mutomo District of Kitui County,Eastern Kenya are benefiting from a photography course through Mutomo Maarifa Centre.

The training is supported by Adobe Foundation through the Adobe Youth Voices Program,a global philanthropic initiative inspiring youth to 'create with purpose'

The youth program,dubbed as 'The change we want" will see the youth addressing issues affecting them and their communities through use of multimedia tools.Youth will also gain skills on teamwork,photography and Adobe software editing skills.

Mutomo Maarifa Centre has set up a blog where we will be posting on the youth’s progress as they work on the program.Please visit this link to see their progress

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pupils have a taste of technology at Maarifa Centre.

Twenty pupils from Makosi Primary School of Mutha Division in Mutomo District today had an exciting opportunity to attend an Introduction to Computers learning session at Mutomo Maarifa Centre.

The standard eight candidates who were accompanied by two of their teachers were happy to learn and practice on the basic computer operations.

‘I have always been hearing about computers but I was yet to see and operate one. I am very happy for the chance to finally know how a computer works' said Shadrack Muliwa,a pupil . He added that he can now boot a computer, write, edit and save a document on his own’

Mr.Jeff Muta,a teacher thanked the Field Officer for taking the pupils through the session.

During the three hour session,the pupils learnt on types of computers,computer elements,and had a practical section where each booted up a computer, typed,edited and saved their documents in Microsoft Word.

The pupils were on a learning trip in Mutomo District to learn on operations in Government Offices and other Organizations.

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Youth Group's way of adapting to climate change!

Umoja Youth Development is a Self-Help group that has come together with a goat keeping project with an aim of income generation and poverty reduction....

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Embrace indigenous food crops… told

The Ministry of Agriculture and its stakeholders had a national field day on September 14th 2011 which was attended by residents of Mutomo and Ikanga divisions of Mutomo District

Stakeholders who participated in the Field day included Arid Lands Information Network( ALIN ),Ministry of Agriculture,Ministry of Livestock production,National Bank of Kenya among others.

The field day, which was attended by among others the Provincial Director of Agriculture,Eastern Province Mr.Joseph Ngatho and the National Crops Officer Mr.Maina,attracted hundreds of community members who were eager to learn new agricultural ideas and technologies.

The theme of the field day was water harvesting,grow more food, land preparation and planting.

Different government departments,Non-Governmental Organizations,Community Based Organizations and Financial institutions had the the opportunity to showcase to the community members on the services and products they offer especially touching on the themes.

Speakers at the event stressed the importance of embracing indigenous food which can do well in the climatic conditions.Some of these crops named included sorghum,millet,green grams,cowpeas, sweet potatoes and cassava.

Residents were also encouraged to cultivate cotton as it not only does well in harsh climatic conditions but also can be a major income generating avenue now that the price of cotton has gone up.

Farmers were also encouraged to grow green grams and Gadam sorghum as they are drought escaping crops and have established market.

They were also implored to come up with production and marketing groups for ease of getting extension messages and to avoid exploitation by middlemen when marketing their products.

Farmers were also urged to prepare their farms early.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Maarifa Centre user praises library services

Mutomo Maarifa Centre is an information hub that continues to attract large numbers of beneficiaries seeking the free information services offered at the Centre.Internet and library services constitute the highest sought after services.Link

Boniface Kasoli,a Public Health Officer at the Mutomo District Hospital is one of the frequent visitors who has been borrowing books from the Maarifa Centre.

Before,Mr.Kasoli used to search for information from the internet because there were no books which touched on his career.

However,the Maarifa Centre was stocked with new books from Book Aid International which included medical books and he started borrowing books because they had better references

“ Recently,I borrowed a health book on Promoting Health from the Maarifa Centre”,Says Kasoli adding that he was able to gain valuable information and he was able to facilitate a seminar from the information gained.

Mr.Kasoli browses through the books at the Maarifa Centre’s library section

“I got gained lots of new information which assisted me to facilitate from an informed level,” he says adding that he is grateful to ALIN for the information services they are giving to the community.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What is your contribution towards climate change?

Have you ever thought how your normal daily routine may be affecting the environment?The electricity you see with, the bus or car you take to work, the paper you use at the office or the number of children you have all have a contribution towards unfavorable climate effects.

According to The Energy and Resources Institute(TIRI ),while nature plays a role towards climate change,all of us in our daily lives contribute our bit to this change in the climate.

TIRI lists the following as some of the ways in which mankind contributes to climate change every day.....

Electricity is the main source of power in urban areas. All our gadgets run on electricity generated mainly from thermal power plants. These thermal power plants are run on fossil fuels (mostly coal) and are responsible for the emission of huge amounts of greenhouse gases and other pollutants.
Cars, buses, and trucks are the principal ways by which goods and people are transported in most of our cities. These are run mainly on petrol or diesel, both fossil fuels.
We generate large quantities of waste in the form of plastics that remain in the environment for many years and cause damage.
We use a huge quantity of paper in our work at schools and in offices. Have we ever thought about the number of trees that we use in a day?
Timber is used in large quantities for construction of houses, which means that large areas of forest have to be cut down.
A growing population has meant more and more mouths to feed. Because the land area available for agriculture is limited (and in fact, is actually shrinking as a result of ecological degradation!), high-yielding varieties of crop are being grown to increase the agricultural output from a given area of land. However, such high-yielding varieties of crops require large quantities of fertilizers; and more fertilizer means more emissions of nitrous oxide, both from the field into which it is put and the fertilizer industry that makes it. Pollution also results from the run-off of fertilizer into water bodies......Read more

Thursday, August 18, 2011

ALIN wins the 2011 Access To Learning Award!

Arid Lands Information Network(ALIN ) is this year’s winner of ATLA award,a yearly award offered by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.The $1 million (U.S.) award is given each year by the foundation's Global Libraries initiative.

The Access to Learning Award (ATLA) recognizes 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.

The Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) has created 12 Maarifa—or Knowledge—Centers in the most hard-to-reach regions of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania so that these people have the tools they need to improve their health, increase their incomes, and better their lives.

Read more on the award here

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Storing grains..the traditional way!

This is a traditional granary which is constructed using local materials.Construction materials are logs and thatch.The granary is raised above the ground so as to avoid pest attacks

traditional granary

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Water….a necessity for us all

This man has walked for six (6 )KM to Kaseva rock water catchment in search of water.He carries eight (8 ),  twenty (20 ) jerry cans of water every day.Due to the heavy cargo,he cannot ride the bicycle.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Squirrel trouble?… to deal with it

Have squirrels being digging up crops in your farm? Have you tried pesticides to eliminate them without success…Worry no more. There is a cheap, simple indigenous method to deal with this.

You just need a heavy stone, sticks and a sisal thread to do this! The thread is tied to bow-like stick and a stone propped on the sticks. Another length of thread is laid between the bow and the stone. Grains (preferably maize) is scattered on the ground i.e. below the trigger mechanism.

The squirrel is attracted to the grains and as it tries to get to them, it sets off the trigger mechanism holding the stone in position. The propped stone is released and comes crushing on the squirrel hence killing it.

squirel squirel2

Mrs..Beatrice Kasikali sets up a squirrel trap.Right,the trap

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A community in search of water

With the continuing poor rainfall patterns in Mutomo District of Kitui County,water is becoming a rare commodity for most households in this arid and semi-arid area.Most of the water points have dried up and thus residents have to walk for long distances in search of water.One such community is Mwala sub-location.The nearest water point is Malilu water catchment. But this catchment has been dry since March this year.


Even in this state,Malilu self help group has come up with a strategy to look for water.They have dug a well inside the rock catchment.The well is deep such that one has to pull the filled jerry cans with a rope to get them on the ground.

“One of the strategies we have come up with is that every household draws water only once in a week” Says Ednah Kathini,a community member

She adds that they have come up with a schedule for drawing water from the catchment.They have both day and night shifts.

And since the well accumulates water at a low speed some of the community members spend as most as two days at the catchment in search of this rare commodity.“I came here yesterday and I am yet to fill my four(4 ) twenty Litre’ Jerri cans,” says a community member.

The other nearest water point is in Mutomo town which is six ( 6 ) KM away.

Appeal for support

The community members are of the opinion that water at the rock catchment dries early due to accumulated mud at the bottom of the catchment.They are appealing for support in de-silting the rock catchment so that the water lasts for a longer period.

“Whenever it rains,water oftenly overflows.But it dries up quickly due to the soil at the floor of the catchment,” concludes Kathini

Monday, June 27, 2011

Making a living out of Melia Volkensii!

When Nyamai Kasikali started a Melia Volkensii plot ten years back, he never knew the potential of the project. Years later; he is making a stable income from the venture. Melia Volkensii is a tree species of the family meleaceae that grows in arid and semi arid areas. It requires minimal amount of rainfall. Locally, it is known as Mukau.


A melia tree

I was trained by the Kenya Forest Services (KFS ) on how to propagate and manage the species and started implementing the same on my farm,’’ says Kasikali.

According to the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), a mature Melia tree takes twelve (12) years to mature.
But Kasikali says that he harvests his trees at the age of 8 years.’’ An 8 year old melia tree fetches me around Kshs.10, 000 in income,’ he says adding that he also has a nursery for melia volkensii seedlings.

Mukau is harvested for timber and products made from its timber are of high quality hence very expensive. Melia seeds are also consumed by goats
Mr Kasikali also has a tree nursery where he raises a variety of trees chief among them melia volkensii.‘‘Melia Volkensii seedlings are very profitable in that one (1) seedling goes for as much as Kshs.100’’ he says
Future plans

Currently, Mr.Kasikali has a melia plot where he has planted sixty (60) trees of the species but he says that he plans to plant more so as to increase his income.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A farmer's search for water

Mr.Nyamai Kasikali always had a dream. His dream was to harvest rain water and make a living out of it.Over years,the 76 year old farmer has strived to make this dream come true.

The small scale farmer from Kavyuvaa Location in Mutomo District escavated an earth dam in his farm for collecting run off water in a bid to have sufficient rain water for irrigation. But because of insufficient rainfall in the area water from the earth dam was not enough for his irrigation dream.

Above,Mr.Kasikali surveys his water harvesting structures.Below,the 46 feet deep well

“I then decided to dig a well inside the earth dam so as to capture more water,” he says.Mr Kasikali adds that the well is 46 feet deep and the water can last for a whole year. But because of poor rainfall patterns, the well oftenly dries up. This prompted him to construct a reservoir tank where he pumps water from the well for water storage..“I then decided to dig a well inside the earth dam so as to capture more water,” he says.Mr Kasikali adds that the well is 46 feet deep and the water can last for a whole year. But because of poor rainfall patterns, the well oftenly dries up. This prompted him to construct a reservoir tank where he pumps water from the well for water storage.....Read more

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cooking made easy

It is dusk in the Vaati family. Mrs. Catherine Vaati is busy preparing dinner for her family. After preparing the meal she puts up a sufuria of water on the jiko.The following morning, she finds the water still warm and uses it to take a bath.

A few weeks back, she used to wake up in the morning to prepare warm water for bathing. This is no more thanks to a domestic rocket stove jiko, a modern Jiko that the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the Promotion of Private Sector in Agriculture (PSDA) and GTZ (a Germany programme) is promoting in Mutomo District

According to the District Home Economics Officer Mr. Benjamin Maingi, thirty (30) demonstration jikos have already been constructed in Mutomo District. He says that GTZ will fund for the project while the Ministry of Agriculture will do the mobilization, offer expertise, training,follow up and submitting reports.....Read more

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A support group embraces sustainable charcoal burning.

Charcoal burning is one of the practices contributing to climate change in today’s world. It leads to deforestation, environmental degradation,air pollution,global warming and other harmful effects to the environment. This has led to poor rainfall patterns and drought in most parts of Africa and the world at large.

However,in some areas people still continue with this practice as a means of survival. One such area is Mutomo District. The District receives minimal rainfall (about 300-800mm) and as such residents are often faced with water and food shortages resorting to alternative means of survival. Residents then sell this product locally or to middle men who supply to major towns of Kitui, Machakos, Thika and Nairobi.

In most parts of the District, residents practice the traditional method of charcoal burning, (earth kilns )which involves cutting down a whole tree (s), .This has led to massive deforestation, a norm which the District’s Kenya Forest Services Department has stepped in to prevent through training the community on sustainable charcoal burning

‘’We encourage the community to come together and form associations, then build modern brick kilns for them which are environmentally friendly and sustainable, ‘’ says Mr.Sammy Mbuko, the Divisional Forest Extension Officer in Mutha Division of Mutomo District...Readmore

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A women group's bid to make a difference in the society

It is dawn in Mwala village of Mutomo district. As the sun’s first rays materialize, Diana Kavuli is on the way to the river on a quest for water for raising a tree nursery. For this 70 year old woman it is yet another day to make a difference to her community. Diana is a member of Jaribu Kuzuia Ukimwi Women Group which has various projects to support orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC s) in Mwala sub-location of Mutomo District.

The group was established in 1997 as a merry go round whereby members would pool resources and boost each other financially as well as assist each other in doing farming activities. Initially it was called Jaribu women Group. But in 2001 the group started doing HIV/AIDS awareness campaign and changed its name to Jaribu Kuzuia Ukimwi Women Group.

The group’s name is loosely translated to ‘try preventing HIV/AIDS’ and is comprised of 11 members, 73% of whom are above 60 years old of age. The all-women’s group is undertaking various income generating activities......Read more

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Rain water harvesting

Mutomo district is an arid and semi arid area which often receives minimal amounts of rainfall resulting to frequent droughts and water scarcity. As such residents have resorted to different methods of water harvesting to combat these problems.

Elizabeth Kinyungu is a small scale farmer in Mwala sub-location in the district who is practicing rain water harvesting in her home. During the April rainfall season, Mutomo District received very minimal rain and so all her crops have wilted. But the 63 year old woman is happy that she harvested some water, thanks to a rock within her farm on which she has constructed a rock catchment
“My home is near rocks and such when it rained, we would be swamped with water from the rocks.Therefore, I decided to construct a rock catchment to harvest this water” She says adding that since constructing the structure she has been having constant water supply throughout unlike before when she had to fetch it from a far away earth dam some ten (10) KM away.

" Water from the catchment is fresh and clean unlike water fro the earth dam which is muddy and brown therefore lower risks of water-borne diseases,'' she adds

She says that water from the rock catchment serves all her domestic water needs .” When there is sufficient rainfall, the water serves us until the next rainy season “She adds .Elizabeth also uses the water harvested for small scale irrigation on her farm.

“I have planted some mangoes which I sell to my neighbours for an extra shilling ,” she explains adding that she has also started a tree nursery where she also makes an income from selling the seedlings.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mutomo Maarifa Centre users praise the newly stocked library

Mutomo Maarifa Centre users have praised ALIN for the efforts to provide information to the community through its recently stocked library. The Maarifa Centre recently received reading material form Book Aid International.

James Mburu who is a nurse at the Mutomo Mission Hospital visited the centre during the unpacking of the books.He could not hide his joy at seeing the books “God Bless you for the initiative you have taken.I am very grateful for this Maarifa Centre.Its a very wonderful project for the community"he said.....Read more

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Maarifa Centre an information hub community.

Mutomo District is an arid and semi arid area in Kitui County which is frequently faced by long spells of drought. Residents of the district rely mainly on small scale farming and keeping of drought resistant domestic animals. As such residents are oftenly faced with food shortages and mostly rely on food aids. Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) in partnership with the Communication of Kenya and the Mutomo Mission Hospital established Mutomo Maarifa Centre on October 2007 to provide the community with information on climate change adaptation, natural resources management, small-scale sustainable agriculture and other livelihood issues. Mutomo Maarifa Centre is hosted by the Mutomo Mission Hospital and all the services offered are FREE of cost

Services offered

• Internet access • e-Government services e.g. KRA pin registration, Examination Results etc • Publications • Multi-media content e.g. ipods,CD-ROMS etc • Online Market Information • Advisory services • ICT training......see full details

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Thirsty?....Try this!

It is a Saturday morning in Mutomo town, a market day for the residents. Sellers are noisily singing praises for their wares to attract customers.

Like everybody else, Agnes Mwende is busy setting up her business. Hers is not a popular business. The 45 year old mother of 6 is in the business of selling porridge. Agnes makes traditional porridge and sells it to the local people during the market day .Mwende serves the porridge in rations of Kshs.10, Kshs.15 or Kshs. 20 a cup.

Although nobody knows exactly what component in the porridge helps quench thirst, it is local knowledge that after taking a cup of the foodstuff one can go for a whole day without taking water.

The porridge can be made from maize, millet, sorghum or finger millet...Read more

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Mutomo Maarifa Centre milestones for 2007 to Feb 2011 outlined

Mutomo Maarifa centre was established in August 2007 to serve the local communities with various services including local content generation and dissemination, free Internet access, computer skills training, access to development publications and other outreach activities to ensure communities get appropriate information resources. During a focal group meeting held on 22nd February 2011, the members noted the following milestones: ...Read more

New Advisory Committee for Mutomo Maarifa Centre

The Mutomo focal group members organized for a meeting that was held on 22nd February 2011 at the Mutomo Mission Hospital. The meeting comprising 22 participants was convened to discuss among other issues; Internet access at the Maarifa centre, Maarifa centre governance structure and reconstitution of the advisory committee, Mutomo Maarifa centre milestones, Mozambique visitors technical study visit to Mutomo and Kyuso and MPESA operations at the Maarifa centre.

The meeting was facilitated by Mr. Noah Lusaka project Manager and Roseline Ngusa Finance and Administration Manager from ALIN Headquarters.

Innovative selection of the committee

During the discussions, the Maarifa centre governance structure was explained in details and the roles of stakeholders outlined. Given that there had been many changes from the original committee constituted in 2007, the members agreed to reconstitute a new Advisory Committee comprising 11 members. To ensure equal participation and democracy, a criterion was set for selecting the committee. In effect, the committee is diverse to ensure different information interest groups are represented. Among the common interest groups identified included: Government representation, Ngos, women, youth, physically challenged, Community based organizations, local leaders and educational institutions...Read more

Friday, February 18, 2011

Melia Volkesii,a survivor in the desert

Mutomo District is an arid and semi arid area in Kitui County, Eastern province that is occasionally faced with dry spells. The main economic activities in the area are small scale farming and keeping of domestic animals.

The area receives minimal amount of rainfall (between 300-700mm per annum) and the residents frequently face starvation.

Very few indigenous tree species survive in such harsh climatic conditions. Of the few indigenous trees, Melia Volkensii, also locally known as Mukau is one of the species that has defied odds and has been known to do well in these unfavorable conditions.

Melia volkensii is a tree species in the family Meliaceae.
There are various steps and procedures followed in seed propagation and planting of the species.
These are:.....Read more
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