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Friday, 20 December 2013

A thank you note to LRV’s readers and partners

By Bob Aston
The Laikipia Rural Voices (LRV) which is supported by Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) through Ng’arua Maarifa Centre would like to thank the many individuals and the Citizen Journalism Reporters who graciously assisted in making 2013 a success.
Laikipia Rural Voices was started by Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) in 2011. This was an initiative aimed at promoting community journalism by training young people in basic Journalism skills such as photojournalism, News writing, Creative writing, Feature writing, Interviewing, Online journalism and Media Laws and Ethics.
LRV stand during Sokopepe launch

Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) has so far trained more than eighty (80) individuals on basic journalism skills in Ng’arua. Through Laikipia Rural Voices the Citizen reporters post their stories on any issue of importance to the local community ensuring that these issues get highlighted and in a number of cases acted upon by concerned authorities.
The training was anchored on ALIN’s core business of using ICT’s to improve the livelihoods of arid lands communities through the use of modern information and communication technologies.
“We could not make it without the support and loyalty of our readers. My warmest thank you goes to all our dear readers. Please continue visiting our blog every day,” said Robert Eyapan.
Laikipia Rural Voices gives the Sipili and the larger Laikipia County communities a platform where they can share their own stories as well as giving them an opportunity to be part of a global community of men and women who are passionate about development news.
“Thank you our readers for trusting us. Together with my fellow Citizen Reporters, we promise to do our very best to give you news on events happening in Sipili and its environs. It was really a pleasure knowing that a lot of people were depending on us to give them information,” said Jane Kariuki.
Ng'arua Maarifa stand during Sokopepe launch

The LRV Reporters have worked hard this year and their dedication has paid off. This year the Citizen Reporters have managed to post 91 articles. The number of articles written has been on the rise. In 2012 the Citizen reporters posted 76 stories while in 2011 the number of articles posted was 34.

Laikipia Rural Voices has also seen an increase in number of visitors in the blog. The blog has already registered more than 30,400 visitors with more than 18,000 page views.
“We could not achieve this success without you as our readers. Your satisfaction is our number one concern and we promise to stay reliable,” said Jane Waigura.
The Citizen Journalism training supported by the Ford Foundation and with a goal to support sustainable models for livelihoods development, to help poor people increase income, accumulate assets, enhance resilience and move out of poverty.
“We truly appreciate the contribution of our readers. We are grateful for the trust you have placed in us,” said Ephantus Kiptanui.
The long term goal of Laikipia Rural Voices is to ensure that there is effective citizen participation in policy dialogue and that the voices of Citizen Reporters are heard globally.
“You are our inspiration in doing our very best. Thank you and remember we value you,” said Moses Ndungu.
Laikipia Rural Voices would like to welcome our readers’ feedback, your critism and your opinions as they hold more value for us than from anyone else. LRV also values your contribution.
Laikipia Rural Voices looks forward to even greater community involvement in 2014. Those who are interested in Citizen Journalism will always be welcome to Ng’arua Maarifa Centre. LRV would love for you to join them. Jump on in, tell your story and see how it connects with someone on the other side of the world.
Laikipia Rural Voices is looking forward to serve you next year. Thanks for choosing Laikipia Rural Voices and giving them an opportunity to serve you. This being the last blog post in 2013, Laikipia Rural Voices would like to wish all their readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. God bless you.

Ng’arua Maarifa Centre leads way in Free ICT training

By Bob Aston 

Ng’arua Maarifa centre, located in Sipili division, Laikipia County made great strides in providing free ICT training to residents of Sipili and Ng’arua divisions. The Centre which was established by Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) in 2006 managed to train 268 people in 2013.

The free ICT training was made possible through Access to Learning Award received by ALIN from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2011. The Award is given each year by the Foundation's Global Libraries initiative.
ICT trainees during a training session
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 Award enabled ALIN to start free ICT Training in all Maarifa Centres in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The training presented opportunities for marginalized rural communities to become ICT savvy.

Training was open to everyone. It attracted a wide range of students including government department workers, primary and secondary pupils and teachers, Form four leavers, youths, farmers, school dropouts and local administrators among others.

The packages offered included Introduction to computer and Windows, Microsoft Word, Microsoft  Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, Internet and Emailing.
ICT trainees during a training session

The number of male trainees was 150 while female trainees were 118. Form four leavers made the highest number of trainees at 58 % while businessmen and women were the lowest at 9 %.

The highest represented age group was 19-25 years as they made up 62 % of the trainees while those above 60 years consisted of less than 1 % of the total trainees.

“The training provided by ALIN really helped me. I managed to secure a computer job. This was only possible because of the knowledge that I gained from the Maarifa,’’ said Joseph Kanyi.

The trainees came from as far as 18 Kilometers. Most of the trainees were located around Sipili Location. The Centre also had trainees who were residing in areas such as Minjore, Mithuri, Milango, Ndemu Ndune, Machunguru, Bondeni, Kinamba, Kahuruko, Mlima Meza, Ndurumo, Naiborom and Ndaragwiti.

“I was a clerk at the D.O’s office in Kinamba but once I cleared my training at the Maarifa centre I was given a promotion and now I work as a Computer Operator. I thank ALIN for providing the training,” said Alfred Machangi, Computer Operator at Kinamba D.Os office.

The trainees were divided into seven different groups and each group had a particular day and time in which they attended training. Group one, two, three and four attended training on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday while group five, six and seven attended training on Thursday and Friday.

Saturday was normally reserved for practice and consulting and the trainees were encouraged to practice their typing skills on Saturdays.

Most of the trainees have already been able to secure jobs with the government and the county government. Others have been employed in the private sector while other trainees have managed to start their own businesses.

Multimillion maize drier not serving any purpose

By Robert Eyapan 

Maize farmers in Sipili area and adjacent locations in Laikipia County are experiencing hard times this festive season. Instead of preparing for Christmas holiday the farmers are busy sun drying their maize.
It is now a critical time for drying shelled maize to avoid hazards associated with microorganism and discoloration of cereals due to high moisture content. Poor drying methods have been cited as a major cause of aflatoxin contamination in Kenya.
Maize being dried
Most farmers harvested their maize during the heavy rains, and they could not manage to dry them. Most of them opted to store their maize temporarily to wait and dry on a sunny day.
“Most of my maize is already rotten as I have been unable to dry them adequately due to inadequate sunlight. But the situation has improved since Monday and I am now trying my best to dry the remaining maize,” said Steven Irungu, a maize farmer in Sipili.
Maize in the area are harvested and shelled when it has high moisture content.
Ironically, the government has invested on a (6) six million worth of Maize dryer and placed in at Sipili cereal bank, a self help group in Sipili. LRV has established the multimillion drier is lying idle at the group’s site as farmers are languishing in heavy manual labor and watching their produce rot.  
What is more appalling is the ignorance by residents about the multi-million public facility bought with taxpayer’s money to help the farmers out of this perennial problem!
To demonstrate lack of awareness, the farmer said that drying of maize would not be a problem if the government could buy maize dryer in the region. He is aware that a mechanical maize dryer enhances efficient drying and possibility of long term storage and good quality.
 “The county government should invest in maize dryer. This can ensure that we get a rewarding value from our produce, “said Ephantus Kiptanui, oblivious of the installation already within his vicinity.
Most farmers would be preparing for the festive season but they have opted to dry their maize in the sun.

Insecurity rise in parts of Kinamba division

By ephantus kiptanui
Residents of Kyeni village, Kinamba division in Laikipia County are living in fear after armed men tried to raid one of the homesteads on December 18, 2013.
The armed men alleged to be three in number ransacked the homestead but they did not find any livestock.
“I received a tip off that some armed men were heading this way. I immediately knew that they were after my livestock. I hurriedly left with my cattle to the neighbouring village before they arrived,” said Giryor, the homestead owner.
As the armed men were leaving the homestead they came across one of the residents who was heading to his house. They robbed him off his money and other valuables.
“They told me to give them money and i gave them everything that I had without resistance. They then returned my national identity card. One of them wanted to shoot me but the other one prevented him, “said Kibet Kuto, who was robbed by the armed men.
Keeping livestock in the area is now said to be a risky business as cases of cattle rustling is now a common occurrence in the area. Most of the farmers are now said to have taken their livestock’s to other villages or stopped keeping livestock altogether for fear of losing their livestock’s.
Kyeni residents are now calling on the government to intervene and improve security in the area.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Heavy rains make roads in Sipili inaccessible

By Bob Aston
Sipili stage
Sipili residents in Laikipia County are currently feeling the effect of heavy rains being experienced in the area this month as most roads become inaccessible. The most affected road is the Kinamba –Sipili road.
”Transportation has now become a problem. Travelling to Kinamba from Sipili is now a nightmare. We have to navigate the road slowly to avoid the vehicle skidding or getting stuck,” said one of the drivers plying the Sipili-Kinamba road.

Most vehicles plying the route are alleged to have increased fare. Initially Sipili residents used to pay Ksh 200 to Nyahururu but now the fare has been increased to Ksh 250.
“It took us nearly one hour to reach Kinamba from Sipili. The driver had to maneuver through mud. Only experienced drivers can now manage to drive in that road without getting stuck,” said Victor Gichagi.
One of the roads affected by the heavy rain
Most of the roads in Sipili are now in bad state with vehicles getting stuck becoming a common occurrence.
Two weeks ago the county government started upgrading most of the roads in Ol-Moran ward. Opinion is now divided with some residents alleging that the county government did a good job in upgrading the roads while others say that they made the situation even worse.
The residents are now calling on the county government to put murram in the roads upgraded in order to ease the transportation problem.

From childhood to adulthood

By James Maina

Upon the graduation of primary school pupils in their national exam, the next immediate step is preparation to join high school. The critical part of it is the vigorous circumcision of boys, a rite of passage that is normally undertaken in the month of December.

In multi-ethnic Wangwachi village, it has appeared that the same rite of passage is done on two fronts namely conservatisms that perform it on traditional system, and the Christians who have bound it on Christian doctrines.

All the Kalenjin initiates have been put together in various chosen places in the slopes of Nyakinyua Ridges.
“We feel that our children must tread along the same path as our ancestors did,” said Kipchirchir, One of those overseeing the event.

The Agikuyu however have taken two stands. Some have taken their candidates to churches and institutions offering circumcision on Christian backgrounds. Others have retained the initiates at homes where cultural education pertaining the said rite is administered.

Circumcision is believed to reduce the risk of developing a urinary tract infection (UTI) such as bladder infection. It also reduces the risk of getting some types of sexually transmitted infections such as H.I.V as well as reducing the risk of developing cancer of the penis.

Laikipia Rural Voices wishes all the candidates a happy time in the broad spectrum of adulthood. It also hopes that the new adults will be men of integrity, manifesting all the moral values that the wider society expects from them.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Kaharati - Naibrom road upgrading completed

By Alice Wagura
The Sipili-Kaharati-Naibrom road has been upgraded. A contractor called Mechanical Transport Fund, started working on the road on December 5, 2013. The five (5) kilometers stretch of road which connects Sipili, Kaharati and Naibrom was funded by Laikipia County government.
 “Murram is going to be placed in January once we have finished the upgrading. This will ensure that heavy rains will not make the road impassible,” said David Mutahi, Supervisor Mechanical Transport Fund.
The road’s upgrading is part of an initiative taken by Laikipia County government to improve roads infrastructure in Ol-Moran ward.
Grader upgrading the road
“We are using heavy grading due to the nature of the roads. We will take two weeks to finish upgrading the road,” said Muthee, the grader driver.
The construction work has also created job opportunities for the locals as most youths were employed to clear bushes and the surrounding areas near the roads.
“The construction has enabled me to get a short term contract. It is just for some few days but it is better than doing nothing,” said Moses Wagura, one of the youths contracted to clear the road.
Residents of Kaharati now say that the road will not only improve transport network in the area but it will also help in providing a conducive atmosphere for business to thrive.
“We will now be able to transport our farm produce easily since this used to be a problem. We thank Laikipia County government for what they are doing,” said John Kamau, Kaharati village elder.
“It was not possible for vehicles to reach these sides due to the bad condition of the road. The road was very narrow and only motorbikes could access it. Now it is wide and this will ensure that transportation will no longer be a problem,” added John.
Most roads in Sipili division are currently being upgraded by the Laikipia County Government.