Thursday, November 22, 2012

Library services improves pupils’ literacy levels

Peter Muthami is a Standard Seven pupil at Mutomo Primary School. Next year , the 14 year old boy will be sitting for his Kenya Primary of Primary Education (KCPE ) exams.As such, the pupil is on the look out to gain new ideas that will make him do well in his primary school studies.So when his English language teacher brought new storybooks for the class,Peter was only too happy to gain more knowledge.

Sister.Jeniffer Kiuni,his English teacher who is a regular Maarifa Centre user spotted  the story books  during an internet browsing session and enquired if she could borrow for her class.She borrowed 30 story books which the pupils read in turns.

“More than 72 pupils benefited from  the storybooks with one of them reading a total of 12 different storybooks ,” says Sr.Jennifer adding that after every reading session, the pupils would retell the skills gained through discussions. “I have seen great improvement in pronunciation and composition writing,”says Sr.Jennifer.

Her sentiments are echoed by the pupils,Peter says that his grammar skills as well as his composition writing skills have improved tremendously. “I have learnt new words and my spelling skills are also good.” He says.

Munii Mbeti also feels the same.She says that she has gained pronunciation skills,new words,spelling and she also learnt new words. “Every time I came across a new word, I would always look it up in the Dictionary thus expanding my word  vocabulary,” says the 14 year old girl.On the other hand,Halima Samuel says that story books have given her good sentence construction.

 Sr.Kiuni applauds the library resource and says that she intends to continue borrowing in future.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mutomo Community perspectives on cassava production

Mutomo District is one of the driest areas in Eastern province. It is marginal and semi-arid and falls within the millet livestock zone. The area receives a bimodal type of rainfall between the months of October -November and March - April. The rest of the period is usually dry. The rainfall received in the area is usually unreliable, erratic and poorly distributed. The district experiences crop failure and water shortage in most years with a reasonable harvest being realized once in six years.

As such, residents usually experience food shortages and mostly rely on relief food for sustenance. Crops that do well here are those that need little amounts of rainfall like millet, sorghum, cowpeas etc. However, the community is still stuck on the belief that maize is the crop to grow. Extensive sensitization is needed to remove the community from this maize syndrome era.

However, a small number of farmers have seen the light and have resorted to growing traditional crops like cassava, sorghum, millet, cowpeas, green grams and cassava.

Wikwatyo wa Kandae Self-Help group is among the farmer groups that have embraced growing of cassava as a way of adapting to climate change and achieving food security. With cassava cuttings from Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), the group embraced cassava production in the year 2010.

On November 13th 2012, the group members were privileged to have a community exchange forum hosted by ALIN at Mutomo Mission Hospital hall. During this forum community members viewed a locally produced cassava value chain photo-audio story showing cassava farming as one of the climate adaptation strategies in Mutomo.

Farmers also had an opportunity to interact with Dr. Cyrus Githunguri (PhD), an Agronomist and Crop Physiologist with KARI for a Q and A session where farmers sought knowledge on disease management and cassava market options.

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In the pictures from Left-Right; community members watch a photo-audio story on cassava value chain,Faith Musembi is happy to see her picture on the screen,community members during group discussions,Benson Nyamai presents his group discussion notes.

The farmers also had group discussions where they applauded photo-audio storytelling as one of the best mediums of communicating research uptake information by farmers and suggested that extensive extension was needed to sensitize the community on cassava value chain.

Speaking to the farmers during the occasion, Mutomo District Agricultural Officer Mr.Toma Ngovu promised that his department will increase community trainings on cassava utilization.

“The District Agricultural Office also promotes Traditional High Value Crops (THVC) as the type of crops that do well in the harsh climatic conditions. Cassava is named among one of the THVCs.” He pointed out

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