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Monday, 30 June 2014

Climate Action team showcasing event held in Nanyuki

By Faith Kisiangani
A climate Action showcasing event themed “Green Money- Clean and real” was held in Nanyuki town at Central park on June 27, 2014. The event was organized by Green Business Projects developed by the Climate Action Teams and it was aimed in aiding information dissemination and promotion of peer to peer learning among the youths across the County.
Some of the participants during the event
The event was attended by various stakeholders, guests and exhibitors. Among those present included; Laikipia County government, Directorate of youths and sports Kenya, Youth Enterprise and Development Fund, Kenya Horticulture Development Authority Experts, Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), various youth groups across the County, environment conservation groups in the County, women groups, schools and colleges, media, farmers training groups and institutions.
The objective of the event was to promote learning and innovations among the different youth groups across the County, to help the youths identify key partners for their capacity building, to give the youths a platform to interact with key government agencies, Non Governmental Organizations and private sectors so as to widen the social capital for their project development and to infuse entrepreneurial skills among the youths.
There were various innovations that were designed to save energy, limit and adapt to climate change and keep the environment green and clean. Innovations displayed included; rocket stove, African beads and accessories, handmade carpets, leather sandals, African art drawings, baskets and poles made from waste plastics bags, polyethylene and soda ash.
Corporative Bank of Kenya was also present to encourage the guest and participants to save financially. Individuals CATs/ Youth groups were given an opportunity to learn from the other youth groups, meet financial institutions, policy makers and implementers and the line government ministries that act as a resource to realize the bigger dreams to their projects.
Some of the participants receiving awards
Speaking during the event, Mr. Jeff Kahuho from Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) encouraged people to take care of the environment by not cutting down trees or practicing poaching.
“If you were living during our times, you would have noted that we usually receive rain during this period of time but nowadays there is no rainfall because we have not been environmentally conscious and therefore contributed to what we are experiencing now in terms of climatic changes conditions,” said Mr. Kahuho.
The young children who had finished their primary or secondary education were given a chance to enroll for courses offered by various participants like Red Cross Kenya, German Cooperation and Movers Youth Group as per their talents.
Later during the day, students entertained the guests by songs, dancing competitions and poems about the importance of environment conservation. Laikipia Wildlife Group performed a play on the importance of taking care of wild life animals.
The event ended with an award ceremony as the Climate Action Teams honoured organizations that had participated and supported the Climate Action Teams Showcase Event. ALIN was among the organizations recognized for its contribution in improving access to good quality information and knowledge on climate change adaptation practices.

The Identity Crisis of the Motherland

By Murigi Ndung’u
As Kenyans continue to watch helplessly at the deteriorating state of affairs, fervently invoking the last rays of hopes for a bright national future, the rest of the world remains almost  as green as the natives themselves. Power is an intoxicating factor but sadism colours it’s blindside. With this in mind, we have to consider the various challenges presented. Do we dump our beloved country for the future of our fame, at the expense of our differences? Nay.
It is possible to cast our antagonism into the field and forget about the future we once dreamed of, but this suicidal kind of reasoning would only betray the efforts of the pioneers of the republic whose toil made sure we get a sovereign nation devoid of negative foreign influence. Now for the Kenyan folks, the victims of the lost human dignity, do we have to wait and watch where fate drives us?
But as the bearers of the blunt, don’t we have a say, are we to observe ‘mum’. Keep quiet about our suffering and give a dumb ear to our own tribulation? We have a say, a powerful archetype, we have to act about it in a civilized manner.
The conflict of personal interests should never be the crippling factor to our forward mindedness. If at all we have to be the slaves of our own fame, then we don’t have to ride on a storm to acclaim our celebrity. Humanity is of utmost importance regardless of what our ambitions are.
“No one can make you inferior without your consent” courtesy of Eleanor Roosevelt. A major problem that is concurrent in Kenya is the line of ethnicity. This has always gnawed at the proper national functioning disabling the forums of technical development and advancement.
Presently we are faced with the ugly ordeal of determining where we belong, the conflict of identity crisis. Should we pledge allegiance to politics of the day and forget that as the nationals, only two classes exist, the upper class and the lower class, the haves and the have-nots.
It’s ironical though that the have-nots are used by the haves in airing what the haves intend to say. Kill fellow have-nots so that the haves can continue to accumulate more power and worship, and have a more god-like position by heightening the disparity between the two families. What we consider as the bastion of humanity is only what gets at our backs and claws deep into our throats.         

Ng’arua Maarifa centre hosts knowledge sharing kibanda

By Bob Aston
The Ng’arua Maarifa Centre, located in Sipili Division, Laikipia West, is hosting a Natural Resources Management (NRM) and Sustainable Landscape Management (SLM) knowledge sharing kibanda that will be archiving United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme (SGP) grantees project’s information.
The knowledge sharing structure at Ng'arua Maarifa Centre
The Maarifa Centre which was founded in 2006 by Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) will be utilized as a knowledge resource centre (library demo, archival and storage facility) by UNDP GEF SGP grantees operating in Laikipia County.

The knowledge sharing kibanda will house various technologies that include; Biogas, Tea Tree from Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN), clay filters, wonder bags, recipe books, farmer innovation on value addition, jikos that do not require a lot of firewood and various water harvesting technologies.
The UNDP GEF SGP knowledge sharing project objectives include; to facilitate consistent knowledge sharing about Sustainable Landscape Management (SLM), to facilitate better knowledge sharing between UNDP SGP Projects in Laikipia County, to establish a knowledge access space for sharing and demonstration of technologies in Natural Resource Management (NRM) and to learn what the other partners are engaged in.
The  outcome of the project is to ensure better informed community members capable of adapting good SLM practices, preservation of biodiversity in Laikipia County, improved livelihoods of communities, improved communication and knowledge sharing, enhanced online visibility of UNDP GEF SGP project and improved accessibility of indigenous knowledge for enhancing communities resilience.

The Maarifa centre is also disseminating two Sokepepe services called Farm Records Management Information System (FARMIS-Kenya) and SOKO+.
SOKO+ is a digital commodity trading and information system linking small scale farmers to end retailers. SOKO+ provides commodity prices from major markets around the areas of operation and beyond, e –extension services and a listing of various technical and logistical providers.
FARMIS is a farm management and diagnostic tool based on the use of farm records. It was developed for use by diverse stakeholders in the agriculture sector aimed at identifying productivity trends, profitability of different farm enterprises and producing evidence for use in decision making at the farm.
Picture of Ng'arua Maarifa Centre
ALIN is also implementing a one year project on climate change on behalf of Act! Change! Transform! (ACT) through the Maarifa Centre. The project seeks to enhance community resilience to adapt to the impacts of climate change for improved livelihood in Laikipia County.
The centre serves more than 26,000 community members yearly on various services. More than 7200 have accessed E-government services; more than 1200 have been trained on ICT skills while 31 groups have been reached with technical farming information.
The Maarifa has shared more than 160 best practices on agriculture and climate change adaptation as well as increasing partnerships with government, local CBO’s and NGO’s.
The centre has overseen the formation of Laikipia Produce and Marketing Cooperative Society which now has more than 280 registered members as well as training over 600 farmers and groups on value chain, farming practices and markets.
The Maarifa centre has also been offering free training on basic journalism skills. More than 80 youths have been trained. Through their blog Laikipia Rural Voices the citizen journalists from the Maarifa Centre have posted more than 300 articles.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

ALIN visit site set for irrigation system

By Bob Aston
The Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) on June 27, 2014 visited a site at Matwiku village in Ng’arua Division, Laikipia County that they intend to use as a demonstration farm for irrigation. The land which has been set aside for the project by Matwiku Horticulture Growers Self Help Group will help the farmers to learn how to use the system as well as its benefits.
ALIN is currently implementing a one year project on climate change on behalf of Act! Change! Transform! (ACT). They are set to work with Matwiku Horticulture Growers Self Help Group in promoting SMART agriculture.
Matwiku Horticulture Growers Self Help Group is comprised of 21 members, nineteen male and two female. The group has selected tomatoes, cabbages and peas as crops that they will plant using the irrigation system.

Another group member irrigating his farm
The field visit provided an opportunity for ALIN officials to see how the farmers have been irrigating their farms using water from Kariaini dam which is estimated to be 20ft deep.

Mr. Peter Kanyita, a member of Matwiku Horticulture Growers Self Group, who was in farm irrigating a quarter of an acre which he has planted onions, narrated to the officials how basin irrigation which they have been using is time consuming. He said a farmer can spend even a whole day irrigating his farm.
He said he usually spends two (2) litres of fuel to irrigate the onions. The amount of fuel used depends with topography of the land. Flat farms like his do not require a lot of fuel for irrigation.
Mr. Kanyita gave an example of connecting PVC pipes as one of the things that consumes a lot of time. The PVC pipes he said are expensive in the long run as they require frequent replacement. Exposure to direct sunlight for a long time also has a harmful effect.
He has been buying the PVC pipes between Ksh 200 to Ksh 300 per metre depending on the quality of the pipe. Some of the farmers he said have now started using Flex hose pipe which is retailing at Ksh 600 per metre. This he said is expensive for most farmers as some require pipes which are more than 40 metres in length.
“We are eagerly awaiting for the irrigation system. As you have seen for yourselves the system that we are using is really time consuming. Connecting and disconnecting the PVC pipes takes a long time,” said Mr. Kanyita.

Mr. Noah Lusaka, Project Manager-ALIN said that ACT project goal is to enhance community resilience to adapt to the impacts of climate change for improved livelihood in Kajiado, Baringo and Laikipia counties.
He added that the project seeks to build the capacities of communities on a range of adaptation practices including water harvesting techniques and use of mobile irrigation technology for increased food production.
The group has decided to start with a three quarter piece of land which is measuring 74 metres by 40 metres.
Irrigation particularly in arid and semi arid areas has been instrumental in boosting the level of agriculture in such areas. Irrigation is expected to lead to increase in food production amongst members of Matwiku Horticulture Growers Self Help Group and neighbouring farmers. This will lead to improvement of the livelihood of the members.

Friday, 27 June 2014

LWF hold meeting to update members on projects progress

By Bob Aston
The Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF) held a North/Western unit meeting on June 25, 2014 at Presbyterian Church E.A Karaba in Muhotetu Division to update members on various projects that they have been undertaking in the region.
The meeting was attended by officials from LWF, Water Resource Users Association (WRUA), Community Forest Association (CFA), Kenya Resources Management Authority (WRMA), Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) and various community based organizations operating in Laikipia County.
Mr. Ngure addressing participants during the meeting
During the meeting various LWF program officers gave a brief progress of their projects. Members were informed that rehabilitation of Lariak springs is ongoing while biogas that was made through funding from Community Development Trust Fund (CDTF) has been rehabilitated. They were also informed that LWF is planning for a walk to create awareness on importance of wildlife conservation.
WRUA was encouraged to continue sensitizing the public on water conservation. They were also informed that LWF is currently working on a guide on ecosystem health.
LWF program officers informed members that a task force has been established that is being chaired by Laikipia Governor Hon Joshua Irungu to see how to reduce human wildlife conflict in the county. They were also informed that they have also assisted in drafting Laikipia Wildlife Conservation Strategy 2012-2030 which is the first of its kind in the country.
Members were informed that LWF has documented best conservation practices and the information would be disseminated through DVDs and other appropriate information channels.
Mr. James Ngure, Kenya Wildlife Service officer informed participants that the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2013 became operational in Kenya on 10th January 2014.
He said the new law is aimed at improving the protection, conservation, sustainable use and management of the country’s wildlife resources. He said the public can now be compensated when their crops are destroyed by some wild animals. He urged the public to ensure that such cases are promptly reported within 24 hours of occurrence.
Mr. Ngure also said that the public can now receive compensation for injuries and death resulting from wild animals.
Mr. Kinyanjui addressing participants during the meeting
He informed the participants that poaching has now become a national disaster. He said poaching and wildlife habitat destruction has been addressed in the Wildlife Act as stiffer fines and punishments for offenders has been set up. He said being in possession of elephant task will now attract a fine of up to Ksh 20 million or life in imprisonment.
“Making false damage claim will be committing an offense and one will be liable upon conviction to a fine of not less than Ksh 100,000,” said Mr. Ngure.
He said that they will soon form the County Wildlife Conservation and Compensation Committee.
Mr. Eric Kwach, officer in charge of Conservation Enterprise Development Programme (CEDP) informed the members that they have been coordinating and promoting the development of bio-enterprises that are environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.
He said the programme through Desert Edge Bio-trading Company has been carrying out various activities that include; developing a range of selected bio-enterprises, building capacity of value chains, developing bio products, developing innovative and creative product design and honey, beeswax and apitherapy products.
Mr.Isaac Kinyanjui, N/Western Unit Director reminded the members of renewing their membership and talked at length on the importance of the membership aspect. He said registration is only Ksh 1,000 per year. He said the forum enables stakeholders to share ideas.
He stressed on how important tourism was and how Laikipia is one of the best tourist destination in East Africa. He urged the members to involve them in ecotourism so that they can bring tourists in the area.
Mr. Josephat Musima, Acting Executive Director-LWF said that their main aim is to bring together people to see how they can assist communities to use natural resources at their disposal.
Mr. Musima addressing participants during the meeting
“Our work is to sensitize you to be empowered on how to conserve the environment. The knowledge that we give you is to help you improve your livelihood,” said Mr. Musima.
He said that they have been promoting the conservation of wildlife and the environment by bringing the people together to conserve wildlife and sustainably use the natural resources on which their lives depend.
He appreciated the work done by WRUA and CFA in water resource management at sub catchment level and conservation of forests respectively.
He thanked them for volunteering to serve the public and said the public expects a lot from them as they are working on their behalf.
LWF supports Water Resource User Associations on 24 rivers, Community Forest Associations in 10 forests, and community conservancies and grazing management committees in 13 pastoralist group ranches.
LWF is now set to hold an open day and 23rd annual general meeting on Saturday July 12th 2014 at Nanyuki Sports Club.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Matwiku farmers urged to grow Stevia

By Bob Aston
Matwiku farmers have been urged to grow Stevia plant as it has a high return and has low carbohydrate. Speaking while addressing Matwiku Horticulture Growers Self Help Group in a meeting organized by Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) at Matwiku in Ng’arua Division, Mr. John Njoroge Muiruri, Laikipia West PureCircle Ltd Director informed the farmers that they can improve their livelihood by investing in Stevia plant.
Stevia plant has been attracting attention with the rise in demand for low-carbohydrate, low sugar sweeteners. The plant has been introduced in Kenya by James Finlay Kenya Limited through PureCirce Kenya Ltd.
Mr. Njoroge addressing members of the group
Mr. Njoroge informed farmers that Stevia is a natural dietary sweetener and sugar substitute made from the leaves of the plant species stevia rebaudiana. Originally from Paraguay in South America, the plant has now been introduced in nine (9) counties by PureCirce Ltd.
“Main advantage of the plant over the common cane sugar is that it contains zero calories hence becoming a golden substitute especially for the diabetics,” said Mr. Njoroge.
He said the plant can be grown as a cash crop hence boosting the agro-economic activities of the farmers involved.  He said that one Stevia leaf is several hundred times sweeter than ordinary sugar.
He said one has a potential of getting up to 600 kgs of the Stevia plant in a one acre piece of land when dried. Currently a kilo goes for around Ksh 100 thus a farmer can manage kshs 60,000 gross income after every 3 months as production increases with every successive harvest.
“The plant needs no pesticides because most insects dislike the sweet juice in the plant’s leaves and it is also advisable to use organic fertilizer rather than the synthetic ones,” said Mr. Njoroge.
He said the plant has a ready market as they normally transport it to Malaysia for processing. He said that they require 3,000 Stevia farmers in Laikipia County adding that payment is normally done on 5th of every month and they do not grade the plant harvested.
He added that they are planning to set up a demonstration plot in Muthengera. Two farmers in the group also offered to given out land to be used as a demonstration plot. The farmers also decided that they will travel to Maili Saba in Nyahururu on 3rd June to visit one of the farmers who has planted the crop.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Group benefits from solar powered lighting system

By Bob Aston
Matwiku Horticulture Growers Self Help Group has benefited from a donation of 15 solar powered lighting systems from Tree Is Life Trust (TILT), which delivered the systems on June 19, 2014. The group which is based in Matwiku area of Ng’arua Division, Laikipia County is now set to stop buying kerosene for lighting.
Members being shown how the solar lighting system works
Peter Gicheru, Secretary, Matwiku Horticulture Growers Self Help Group could not contain his joy during the handover ceremony. He said that buying kerosene for lighting has been expensive but this will now be a thing of the past.
“This place does not have electricity so we had no choice but to buy kerosene. The solar powered lighting system will help reduce dependence on kerosene and this will enable the members to save money that they would initially have used to buy kerosene,” said Mr. Gicheru.
Mr. Gicheru said that when they were informed by Tree Is Life Trust that they will be given 15 solar powered lighting systems they decided to contribute to buy seven (7) more as they are 21 members.
Each of the system costs Ksh 4,000. Each member had to contribute Ksh 1,150 to purchase the remaining seven.
“Kerosene lamps produce a lot of smoke and normally cause health problems. Our children have been complaining about them when reading using them at night, “said Mr. Gicheru.
He said that the system is easy to install and has a phone charger thus his frequent visits to Matwiku centre to charge his phone will now be a thing of the past.
Handover ceremony of the solar powered lighting lamps
Mr. George Kamau from Tree Is Life Trust said that the project has been made possible through funding from Act! Change! Transform! (ACT). He said they are identifying groups that they can work with in renewable energy.
He said that they decided to donate 15 SunEngine Solar System to the group in order to see the long term benefit of the lighting system. He added that they will be doing an evaluation to see the number of people who are now interested in the lighting system.
“The solar powered lighting system has a long lasting non replaceable light source. It also has a deep discharge protection circuit to increase battery light,” said Mr. Kamau.
A vibrant solar energy market has developed in the country over the years for lighting homes. Currently Kenya is leading in number of solar powered systems installed per capita.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Lariak Primary host Laikipia West Sub County Music Festival

By Bob Aston
Music enthusiasts were treated to a jovial occasion as Laikipia West Sub County Music festival was held at Lariak Primary School on June 19, 2014. The one day event received a huge turnout as music lovers thronged the school to relish the festival.
The competition brought together schools from four Divisions namely; Rumuruti, Muhotetu, Sipili and Ol-Moran. It featured dances, chants, folk songs, set pieces, poems and mashairi.
The Kenya Music Festival (KMF) has been structured to give prominence on wider community participation to showcase varied Kenyan cultural heritage through, music, dance and elocution.
Lariak Primary pupils entertaining guests during a past function
Schools performed in more than 30 different classes with Lariak Primary School and Rumuruti District Education Board (DEB) emerging victorious in most of the classes.
The festival Mission is to develop and promote Kenya’s intangible cultural heritage of music and other cultural expressions through enhanced dialogue amongst the diverse cultures of Kenya and the international community for sustainable development while its vision is to be the leading agency in the development and promotion of Kenya’s intangible cultural heritage locally and internationally.
The participants were informed that only schools that got more than 80% in their respective classes will be able to proceed to the county competition.

Sipili Division Area Education Officer (AEO), Mr. Edward Omondi urged participants who qualified for Laikipia County Music Festival to continue training hard in order to progress to the national competition. He also urged schools to start preparing for next years’ competition in order to improve upon the quality of items presented.

“We will look at how we can capacity build teachers involved in music festival together with Kenyan Primary School Head Teachers Association,” said Mr. Omondi.
Laikipia County is now set to hold the County Music festival on June 25, 2014 in Nyahururu. This year will mark the 88th edition of the Kenya Schools and Colleges Music Festival.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Stevia plant set to be introduced in Sipili

By Victor Gachigi
Stevia plant has been attracting attention with the rise in demand for low-carbohydrate, low sugar sweeteners. The plant has been introduced in Kenya by James Finlay Kenya Limited through PureCirce Kenya Ltd which was at Sipili DO, s office in Laikipia West on June 9, 2014 to introduce the plant in the region.
Stevia is a natural dietary sweetener and sugar substitute made from the leaves of the plant species stevia rebaudiana. Originally from Paraguay in South America, the plant has started to be embraced in Kenya particularly in Kericho County.
“Main advantage of the plant over the common cane sugar is that it contains zero calories hence becoming a golden substitute especially for the diabetics,” said Mr. John Njoroge Muiruri, Laikipia West PureCircle Ltd Director.
Mr. Njoroge said the plant can be grown as a cash crop hence boosting the agro-economic activities of the farmers involved. He said that one Stevia leaf is several hundred times sweeter than ordinary sugar.
Mr. Njoroge noted that the global production of Stevia has managed to meet only 30% of the world’s demand. He said one has a potential of getting up to 600 kgs of the Stevia plant in a one acre piece of land when dried. Currently a kilo goes for around Ksh 100 thus a farmer can manage kshs 60,000 gross income after every 3 months as production increases with every successive harvest.
PureCircle officials together with some farmers
“The cost of production is about 30% of the total gross income which means that this can be slashed down if factors such as the most limiting resource of land can be kept constant by owning land,” said Mr. Njoroge.
Mr. Samuel Muriithi, a livestock extension officer who invited PureCircle Ltd in the area informed farmers that the plant grows well in areas with rainfall requirement of 1,500mm to 2,000mm per annum and preferably well spread throughout the year. He added that the plant requires an ideal ambient temperature of 10C to 30C.
“The Stevia plant can endure a period of up to 3 months without any rain and can grow in a variety of soils as long as they are rich in organic matter,” said Mr.Muriithi.
He said the plant is grown in a nursery using cuttings such as those used in growing tea leaves though the nursery needs to be covered with special nets and polyethene materials. Roots will begin to develop after four days. The plant will have at least three leaves after four weeks which can be used as seeds. In case of inadequate rainfall this process can take as much as 8 weeks.
He said beds which are 30 ft long and 2 ft wide are made in the farm where the seedlings are planted. After 3months the plant is mature and ready to be harvested when a yellowish color begins to form on the stems. A mature Stevia plant will grow to about one feet high.
To harvest the Stevia, cuttings of the stems together with the leaves involved leaving out the stubs to enhance re-growth which marks the beginning of the proceeding plant’s cycle. The next step involves drying the harvested plant by simply spreading it on the ground and exposing it to the sun for about five hours which makes the leaves to separate from the stems. The dried leaves are then collected, weighed and taken to the market.
He said harvesting can be carried out six times per year for a period of up to four years though this will depend on the weather pattern. He said proper cultivation is recommended after every harvest.                                
“The plant needs no pesticides because most insects dislike the sweet juice in the plant’s leaves and it is also advisable to use organic fertilizer rather than the synthetic ones,” said Mr. Mureiithi.
Mr. Njoroge promised farmers who are interested in growing the plant that they will be back in the area with seeds and they will also provide extension services.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

UNDP GEF SGP grantees set to start Laikipia Maliasili newsletter

By Bob Aston
Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) held an inception workshop for knowledge sharing project supported by United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme (SGP) at Beisa Hotel, Nanyuki, Laikipia County from 10th to 11th June 2014. The inception workshop titled Enhancing communities participation for effective natural resources management and enhanced resilience in Laikipia County have initiated a quarterly newsletter called Laikipia Maliasili.
The UNDP GEF SGP grantees present at the workshop included; Kantuka Community Based Organization, Upper Ewaso Narok Water Resource Users Association, Rumuruti Forest Association, Ilmamusi Forest Association, Tuungane Tusaidiane community project, Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN), Sustainable Agriculture Community Development Programme (SACDEP), Segera Jirani na Mazingira, Yiaku Laikipia Trust and Laikipia Central Community Development (LAICCODO).
Ms. Esther taking participants through newsletter creation process

Also present included representation from Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme (ASDSP) and the Laikipia County Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, Fisheries, Livestock Development, Environment and Natural Resources.
Laikipia Maliasili will feature four different themes namely; biodiversity conservation, ecotourism-Climate change, Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES), carbon credit and REDD+, water and energy. A school corner will also be established to incorporate Sustainable Land Management (SLM) related activities done by schools.
The first edition of the newsletter will be in July and will consist of both English and Kiswahili version. The UNDP GEF SGP grantees also selected a team to sit in the newsletter editorial board.
“Through Laikipia Maliasili, grantees will be able to capture and document indigenous knowledge relevant to sustainable natural resources use and management for posterity,” said Ms. Esther Lung’ahi, ALIN- Project officer.
The news letter target audiences include partners, farmers, farmer groups, government extension workers, schools among others.
Ms. Esther said that in a bid to enhance content creation the grantees will each send two representations from their organizations to be trained on citizen journalism from 30th June to 4th July. They will be trained on news writing, creative writing, feature writing, photography, interviewing, videography, online journalism (blogging) and media law and Ethics.
Participants during the inception workshop
Ms. Esther said  Laikipia Maliasili will help to close knowledge gaps, promote sharing of projects experiences among grantees, connect beneficiaries to policy makers, improve accessibility of indigenous knowledge, enhancing feedback of project activities, promoting replication as well as ensuring that the communities are better informed about Sustainable Land Management (SLM).
“The newsletter will help in providing a platform for knowledge sharing between partners supported by UNDP GEF SGP being implemented in Laikipia County,” said Ms. Esther.
The UNDP GEF SGP grantees also agreed to use Laikipia Rural Voices (LRV) blog for disseminating project activities.LRV will provide a platform in their blog for the same purpose. The blog has also been integrated with the social media to help in dissemination of information. This is also aimed at enhancing visibility of UNDP GEF SGP Project
Laikipia Maliasili will help to complement the UNDP SGP knowledge sharing project whose objectives include; to facilitate consistent knowledge sharing about Sustainable Landscape Management (SLM), to facilitate better knowledge sharing between UNDP SGP Projects in Laikipia County, to establish a knowledge access space for sharing and demonstration of technologies in Natural Resource Management (NRM) and to learn what the other partners are engaged in.
The  outcome of the project is to ensure better informed community members capable of adapting good SLM practices, preservation of biodiversity in Laikipia County, improved livelihoods of communities, improved communication and knowledge sharing, enhanced online visibility of UNDP GEF SGP project and improved accessibility of indigenous knowledge for enhancing communities resilience.

Knowledge sharing about SLM is essential to the successful management of natural resources. Opportunities for collaboration can play an important role in allowing different stakeholders to bring their unique skills and perspectives together to address various challenges faced.

Laikipia County Minister supports knowledge sharing project

By Faith Kisiangani
Laikipia County Minister for Agriculture, Irrigation, Fisheries, Livestock Development, Environment and Natural Resources, has supported a knowledge sharing project by United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme (SGP). Speaking during the inception workshop organized by Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) at Beisa Hotel in Nanyuki on June 11, 2014, Hon Duncan Mwariri said that information sharing is a powerful tool that should be fully utilized.
Hon Mwariri addressing participants during a knowledge sharing workshop
Hon Mwariri congratulated ALIN and UNDP grantees for initiating a project that will help to improve the livelihood of communities at house hold level.  He encouraged farmers to have a project that will market and aggregate their produce.
 “Farmers have been exploited for a very long time because of individual interest and businesses and if they come up together and form a group this problem will be addressed,” said Hon Mwariri.

The inception workshop titled Enhancing communities participation for effective natural resources management and enhanced resilience in Laikipia County provided an avenue for UNDP GEF SGP grantees to deliberate on knowledge sharing.
The UNDP GEF SGP grantees present at the workshop included; Kantuka Community Based Organization, Upper Ewaso Narok Water Resource Users Association, Rumuruti Forest Association, Ilmamusi Forest Association, Tuungane Tusaidiane community project, Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN), Sustainable Agriculture Community Development Programme (SACDEP), Segera Jirani na Mazingira, Yiaku Laikipia Trust and Laikipia Central Community Development (LAICCODO).
Also present included representation from Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme (ASDSP) and the Laikipia County Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, Fisheries, Livestock Development, Environment and Natural Resources.
Hon Mwariri,officials from his Ministry together with ALIN Deputy Director
Hon Mwariri challenged farmers to be open-minded and not only rely on maize but to also venture into other farming activities. He said that the County government is interested in enhancing commercial villages so as to improve the livelihood of communities at house hold level.
Hon Mwariri said that he was impressed with Farm Record Management Information System (FARMIS) and SOKO+. This he said will help farmers particularly in the area of record keeping.
SOKO+ is a digital commodity trading and information system linking small scale farmers to end retailers. SOKO+ provides commodity prices from major markets around the areas of operation and beyond, e –extension services and a listing of various technical and logistical providers.
“I am happy with record keeping. A farmer cannot practice Kilimo Biashara when he does not keep records. Most of the time farmers are not able to acquire loans because of lack of proper farm records. I hope FARMIS will succeed and that the best farmer in record keeping should be given a trophy as a motivation,” said Hon Mwariri.
 He promised the participants that the County government will host the information notice board that will be used by UNDP funded grantees to disseminate information at the county office.
The specific objectives of the project will include; to facilitate consistent knowledge sharing about Sustainable Landscape Management (SLM), to facilitate better knowledge sharing between UNDP SGP Projects in Laikipia County, to establish a knowledge access space for sharing and demonstration of technologies in Natural Resource Management (NRM) and to learn what the other partners are engaged in.

Sipili School for the Deaf, ‘‘Walk for a bus’’

By Bett Kipsang’
The Sipili School for the Deaf have started a fundraising campaign to solicit funds to buy a school bus. The School, located in Sipili division of Laikipia west was started in the year 2006 and its is the only registered school for the deaf in Laikipia County. The institution has a population of 80 learners, enrolled all through infant classes to class eight and vocational training. The catchment covered by the school includes Laikipia, Samburu, Baringo, Nakuru and Nyandarua counties.
Objective of the walk
Sipili school for the deaf is equipped with 8 professional teaching staff, peace corp volunteer and 8 subordinate staff, who strive to give the best to the learners in spite of the challenges associated with limited resources and the nature of special needs for the deaf learners.
Walk about to be flagged off

The disabled community have different ways of learning, most of the time they use unique signs to communicate and needs more practical and actual study aids to fully understand the environment and gain a wider general orientation across all the curriculum subjects.
‘‘Our institution enrol deaf learners, they learn a lot by seeing and therefore they require allot of travelling’’ said Mr. Wairia Kin, a teacher at the school. ‘‘Outside trips combines all the lessons from different subjects and are more practical and real, hence learning is easy and effective’ added Wairia.
The desire to improve learning among the pupils at the special school prompted the teachers to start a ‘‘Walk for a bus’’ a days walk by pupils and teachers from Nanyuki to Sipili a distance of 250 Km.
Two teachers; Wairia Kin and Mrs Elizabeth Linde an American Peace Corp volunteer came up with the idea which was received well by the schools Head teacher Mr. Godfrey Gikunda and the community.
Mrs Linde a professional social worker have been attached to the school for the past one and a half years, Linde has fully embraced the idea and would be happy to see the school acquire its own bus before her term ends in a year’s time.
The fund raising initiative was kicked off in April, with a series of activities to raise awareness among the community and other stakeholders in government and private sector.
‘‘The bus will also generate revenue for the sustainability of the institution’’ said Wainaina a teacher at Sipili School for the deaf.
The walk which started on 26/5/014 at Nanyuki town involved 10 learners and three teachers from the school.
‘‘The walk was meant to jump start a series of activities to mobilize fund for buying buss’’ said Mr. Wairia. Adding that other strategies includes targeting; individual well wishers, business community, corporate bodies, social institutions like churches and a fund raising event scheduled for July 2014 at the institution.
About the walk
Pupils during the walk
Ten learners were selected to participate in the 250 Km walk alongside 3 teachers and a care taker. They took off to Nanyuki on a hired Matatu on 24th June in readiness to commence a mission to accomplish the dream of owning a bus. On Sunday June 25th, the team congregated at a Nanyuki parish church for mass services where they appealed to the faithful to support their mission.
 ‘‘We received some contributions after prayers’’ said Mr. Wairia. The walk was officially flagged off, at the County education office by the District Education Officer for Laikipia East.
‘‘Before setting off for the journey, we had a thorough walk around Nanyuki streets to sensitize the community and appeal for more donations. We were led by a member of Laikipia County assembly Hon John Nderitu who is representing people with disabilities’’ Wairia said. The day’s journey ended at Narumoru where the caravan put up for a night at the Talent Academy after a warm and cheerful welcome.
Relay form
The pupils walked for 5Km and then they would be lifted by the vehicle and replaced with another team.  The teams on foot carried burners with a fund raising message and they sold cards with 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 denominations.
 On 27th May, the cheerful youths walked around Narumoru town and then set off on the journey along the Nanyuki Nyeri Road, they had a stop at chaka town and did a walk around the small town to enlighten the residence of the needs and aspirations of the disabled community. The day was concluded at the Marry immaculate school with an arousing welcome. The journey was gaining momentum and the participants were enjoying every pit of it.
On Wednesday 28th May, the team made rounds in Mweiga town Nairutia through Kiawara.  The day ended and the team put up for a night at Mugunda Girls, where they were received warmly.
Pupils during the walk
The team arrived at Nyahururu on 29th and after walked through town they proceeded with the journey and spend the night at Muthengera special school. The journey was at the home stretch as the pupils arrived at Kinamba where they were joined in the afternoon by a bigger team of pupils and community members who had gone to receive them.
They arrived at Sipili and had a brief meeting attended by the business community, Member of county assembly Sipili-Olmoran ward Hon. Dancun Ndegwa, The Ward administrator Mr. Keru and teachers.
According to Mr. Wairia Kin, the 250 Km walk achieved a lot. ‘‘First we have created awareness of the existence of the institution and sensitized the community on the importance of educating children with special needs’’ He said. Wairia also said that they have managed to raise 5% of the targeted amount needed to purchase the school bus.
School Principal Mr Gikunda is therefore requesting all friends of disabled /deaf community to assist us to achieve our objective .Bank A/C name –Sipili School for the Deaf, EQUITY NYAHURURU BRANCH A/C 0160162092036 or M-Pesa 0721660174.
Challenges
The entire journey was an adventure to the pupils. However; it was not without some challenges as noted by the teachers and the support team of caretakers. ‘‘some of the members of the community had negative attitudes towards people with disabilities, some even asked why they need a bus’’ said Mr. Wairia.

Monday, 16 June 2014

County Assembly pass motion on value addition for bee products

By Faith Kisiangani and Bob Aston
The County Assembly of Laikipia on June 10, 2014 passed a motion moved by nominated member Hon. Jennifer Koinante on value addition for bee products. The motion was motivated by the realisation that although Laikipia County has a huge potential to produce honey from its many forests, most honey consumed there was imported from Baringo County.
Communities had also recognised that there is a direct correlation between honey production and increased afforestation, hence it would likely lead to increase in numbers of trees planted within and outside Laikipia forests, which now face immense pressure due to exploitation for timber and wood fuel.
Hon Koinante during a knowledge sharing workshop
 The motion read as follows: “Noting that beekeeping is a major economic driver in Kenya that remains unexploited; appreciating that bee keeping is also a way and means of environmental conservation; noting that Laikipia County Government can tap into this and actually package County-Specific bee products; this house urges the County Government to develop and implement strategies of enhancing production and marketing of honey from our County.”
The motion was passed without opposition during the afternoon sitting of the second session (119) of the Assembly. ALIN through Ng’arua Maarifa Centre Field Officer, Sammy Nzioka, observed the debate from the Public Gallery of the Assembly after getting a briefing from the mover of the motion prior to the debate.
Apiculture (Bee keeping) has become an important enterprise in the livestock sub sector. Currently only 20% of the country’s honey production potential has been tapped. The current policy on apiculture is broadly to develop a modern bee keeping industry in the country to provide additional income to rural households.

ALIN pays a courtesy call on Laikipia County Assembly Speaker

By Faith Kisiangani and Bob Aston
A team from Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) paid a courtesy call on the Speaker of the County Assembly of Laikipia, Hon Patrick Mariru on June 11, 2014. The team was made of Deputy Director Anthony Mugo, Projects Officer, Esther Lung’ahi and Field Officer, Sam Nzioka. They briefed the Speaker about the Advocacy and Smart Agriculture Project being implemented in partnership with Act! Change! Transform! (ACT).
The speaker expressed his commitment to the aspirations of the project saying that the two thrusts of the project namely: County-focused advocacy for climate change adaptation and promotion of climate smart agricultural practices, were very relevant for Laikipia.


ALIN staff with speaker and MCA at Speakers office

“We find it encouraging to get partners such as NGOs and CBOs in the community because we believe that our very existence and the work we are doing as an Assembly must speak the reality of our people,” said Hon Mariru. He added that the County Assembly is aware that much needs to be done to enhance the resilience of the Laikipia community.
“Most of the beans planted in Laikipia dried up because the rains stopped too early. We are also realizing that the same will happen to maize. These are definite signs that climate change is happening and it is affecting agriculture the most, hence the need for different technologies for dry land farming,” said Hon Mariru.
He advised the team to form linkages with relevant County Assembly committees, particularly those in charge of Agriculture, Education and ICTs as well as Finance and Planning. He noted that the Committees are highly influential.
He announced that the County Assembly will host a big Congress on “Youth and ICTs” between June 20 and 25, 2014. He extended an invitation to ALIN saying he is aware that the organisation pioneered free communities’ access to ICTs in Laikipia through its long-standing Ng’arua Maarifa Centre.


ALIN staff with speaker and MCA at Speakers office
He mentioned that the Assembly is about to pass a Public Participation Bill, which had already gone through the first and second reading. This will provide modalities for ensuring public participation in the Assembly’s operations. Other Bills he advised ALIN to look out for include; Access to Information Bill and Bill in Petitions to the County Assembly.
Himself an expert with a bachelor’s degree in horticulture and with a background working in NGOs, he expressed his support of the Project.
The Courtesy call was facilitated by a nominated member of the County Assembly, Hon. Jennifer Koinante who also sat through the meeting. She offered to be the Project’s link person with the Laikipia County Government. As a first step, she offered to convene a meeting between ALIN and County Representatives and executives in charge of: Agriculture; Environment and Natural Resources; Water and Irrigation as well as Education.