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Thursday, 29 August 2013

Last purge of IDPs resettled in Laikipia

By Nasky Benson and Peter Njogu

The remainder of thousands of people displaced during 2007-08 post election violence in Kenya, finally have a reason to smile as they receive land from the government. The I.D.Ps who had been living in Kirathimo near Naivasha, are expected to be settled at Kabage area of Rumuruti district.

About 120 IDPs had run away from Kirathimo and set up another temporary camp at Karaba, citing deplorable living conditions in the former camp. They have been at Karaba for the last four months where they were provided with food and shelter by the state.

The land to resettle them is just a few kilometres from their make-shifts, each of them will be allocated approximately two acres. The government will also construct a house for each resettled IDP.

A government surveyor, today, started demarcating the land and the work is expected to be completed in the next one week.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

A wake up call for gender equity

By Regina Waridi

In the past few years, women have been struggling for emancipation .The   modern woman is now fighting for equal positions as her male counterparts. Their struggle is evident in how they have established themselves in  women advocacy groups which include lobby and self-support groups.
She is now questioning and challenging some of the traditions that have always held her back.
The modern woman no longer accept this state as divinely ordained .She is fighting for positions in education, leadership ,inheritance, management and also in acquiring of wealth.

Gender discrimination on the girl child is deeply rooted and embedded in our traditions .Some societal practices such as female genital mutilation, bride price, confinement to specified areas demean and humiliate the person of a woman.

A man should be sensitive to the needs of his partner, mother or sister, and not treat her as a lesser human being. She might be less masculine, but with hidden abilities and full of ideas.

I believe that this world is neither for male or female feet, but for those determined to bring change, it is for those who carry developmental conscious minds, those that will touch other`s life with courage. It should be a world belonging to everyone, with no one feeling lesser and deprived than the other.

It`s time we rid ourselves of all the drawbacks and move on, learn to treasure others and live to wish the best for them. Unless we accept that we are all equal, let us forget birthing out anything new on earth.

In order to bring development, we must first develop ourselves and work on our attitude, and with these, a colourful, prosperous future lies ahead.      


Citizen reporters made a show at Sokopepe launch

By Nderitu Elvis

Citizen reporters: Elvis and Alvin during an interview 
Citizen Journalism training at Ngarua Maarifa centre has come of age. This was demonstrated when two reporters Sokopepe) a swahili word for virtual market. Representing the team, the two citizen reporters; Alvin and Elvis successfully managed the citizen journalism stand and marked a colourful coverage of the project by collecting the milestones the group has achieved so far. Their stand was adorned with two balloons- named Alvin and Elvis - orange and white to mark the theme of the day.  
confidently made a big show during the unveiling of ALIN’s E-marketing project (

Some of the most remarkable things noted were the establishment of a blog;, and a face book page. A total of 148 plus articles all touching the heart of Laikipia have been published on the blog, attracting over 26,000 readers, from far and wide. Some of the stories published elicited quick responses, a case of a deaf girl who was forcefully married off got a sponsored by a well wisher and she is currently a student at Bishop Gatimu Secondary.

The stand witnessed massive visitors in the early hours with people trying to find out what exactly is citizen journalism. Most of them were amazed since they had no clue of its existence and were further touched by the fact that it had covered stories they knew off head.

Guest from ALIN head quarters in Nairobi and other invited visitors went to the stand and were pleased by the new developments of the project.

One remarkable visitor to the stand was the current area Member of county assembly who was moved by the presentations. The leader is among the pioneers Citizen Journalism Trainings in to be trained be training in Sipili three years ago. ‘‘I have written almost 15 articles published on this blog’’ said Duncan Ndegwa.

The Citizen reporters had much fun during the event
The show rendered a golden opportunity for the citizen reporters to create rapport with reporters from mainstream media. Mohammed Maina- a journalist with a local radio station ‘‘Sauti Ya Mwananchi’’, visited the stand and he was so stunned to find out that the volunteers had come up with such an innovative idea to write and share news on the web-blog. Maina was touched by this innovative project and he promised to highlight the blog on his Friday night show. He also said that he will in future consider slotting an interview with one of the citizen reporters in his show.

The stand received various requests by people who were willing to join the family of citizen journalist’s and all were invited to attend lessons which commenced Monday 26th August 2013.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Pomp and colour as Sokopepe is unveiled

By Elvis Ndiritu

Exhibitors from Left; Flora, Andrew, Joyce and Francis Kiarahu
 Thursday 22 August 2013, is one of the most memorable days for the residents of Sipili. They woke up to a colourful event marked by ALIN to celebrate the unveiling of Sokopepe an on-line marketing platform.

 Sokopepe and citizen journalism taking place at Ngarua Maarifa Center, were the focus of the event that started with hefty preparations from as early as 8 am. before long, the open field in Sipili centre was a beehive of activities as visitors- who had come to showcase their activities arrived. The event set off at 10.00 am. 

Farmers and institutions wanting to share knowledge were beyond the host’s estimation. Volunteer youths and Citizen journalist from Ngarua Maarifa centre, ran up and down to work out how to provide extra stands for the arriving exhibitors.  

The tents were well decorated with orange and green and were arranged in a spectacular manner thus attracting a huge crowd.

When the day was still young , the shows continued and the sokopepe stand attracted so many farmers who came to witness the unleashing of this platform, one of its kinds in Laikipia County. Several farmers registered with the platform.

Soon there were speeches from main stakeholders, the area county assembly representative was welcomed and he gave way to the deputy county commissioner who cut the ribbon and unveiled sokopepe.

Balloons of orange and white colours were released to the joy of the children who ran after them indicating the happiness even though they did not fully understand the main subject matter of the event.

A dance crew hired by the event organizers also gave people a light moment as the huge gathering sipped the sodas. Later on a photo session attracted many people who posed to capture this memorable moment. A sumptuous lunch awaited the guest at the catholic social hall.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Dairy farmers to unlock milk supply shortage

By Lilian Wangui

Beef ranching is known to be the predominant economic activity in Laikipia County. It has led to most farmers inclining more into rearing beef cattle than dairy cattle. Due to this imbalance, milk shortage has become a rampant especially in Laikipia West. Farmers, therefore, need to be encouraged to venture more into dairy farming business. However, dairy cattle management is not as easy as a walk in the park, relevant husbandry skills are necessary for better profitability in the venture. The farmer should be ready to put an extra effort if at all they need to fetch handsome amount of money.

With all this in mind, a group by the name Wangwache dairy farmers, comprising of about 100 members have made a wise decision to be seek husbandry skills in regard to dairy cattle keeping before diving into the business as a group.  They sought assistance from the divisional livestock officials in sipili; Mr.Peter Mukono and Mr.Muriithi. The farmers meet every Wednesday in the afternoon and the trainings has been on for the last five weeks. Lessons cover topics on: how to design a zero grazing unit, feeding ration for dairy cattle, how to take care of a lactating cow, record keeping, calf management and breeding.

Breeding is one topic that seemed to excite them a lot because it entailed issues such as cycle of a cow, benefits of artificial insemination and signs that depict a cow is on heat. These and many others issues are most frequently asked by farmers. Prompting Mr. Muriithi, the livestock production officer to respond by training them. The following is a brief highlight of the trainings.

The four types of breeds known for milk production are Friesian, Ayrshire, Guernsey and Jersey. Friesian weighs over 160kgs, predominantly black and white and it’s known to produce the highest amount of milk with no fat compared to the other breeders. However, it’s a heavy feeder. Ayrshire comes second in the production of milk. Guernsey is third highest producers of good quality milk though with lots of fat. Jersey is the smallest of all the mentioned breeds, produces milk with the highest content of fat.  The breeds can survive in a wide range of conditions.

Another critical issue was depicting signs of a cow on heat (estrus), failure of which can lead to low pregnancy rates and lower lifetime milk production. Therefore, some of the signs highlighted were: mounting, a sure sign, mooing a lot and refusing to eat, clear mucus discharge at the vulva, sniffing around the vulva region between her and other cattle and many other subtle signs. The farmer should be keen on these signs lest she/he misses the critical moment.

Artificial insemination (AI) is a technique a farmer handling dairy cattle cannot afford to assume whatsoever. It comes with its own benefits which are: a farmer can decide to select the desired breed semen to transfer to his/her cows, one is able to keep an accurate breeding and calving records and it prevents the spread of certain diseases.

Finally the group is currently mobilizing each other to try and collect about 2000 litter’s day for them to qualify as a dairy farmer group. Their future plans are to stock high quality dairy cattle and to have milk preserving machine they call it (cooler) established at Sipili town.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Sokopepe set to revolutionize agriculture marketing

By Bob Aston

The Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), facilitated by the Ford Foundation, are organizing an open day to celebrate the unveiling of its E-marketing and knowledge platform Sokopepe (Kiswahili word) for “virtual market”.

The ceremony will take place on Thursday 22, August, 2013, outside the Ng’arua Maarifa Centre at Sipili, Laikipia County. The Governor of Laikipia, HE Joshua Irungu is expected to grace the occasion as the guest of honor. He will be accompanied by county representatives (ministers) responsible for agriculture and ICTs among other key stakeholders in leadership and agriculture development. The open day will involve diverse key stakeholders, including ago-dealers, farmers, development and government agencies as well as various farmer-support institutions, such as cooperatives.

Besides launching of the platform, the open day will afford various stakeholders to network, share information and create new linkages.ALIN will showcase innovations and technologies from a few champion farmers from several of our Maarifa Centres across the country

Sokopepe is an initiative of Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) aimed at harnessing the power of Information and Communication Technologies in enabling farmers to efficiently reach and exploit a fair market for their produce. At the same time, it increases efficiency in the agriculture value chain providing a platform for farmers to share information and execute electronic transactions.

Most transactions on the Sokopepe platform can be completed on a basic mobile telephone handset, making it accessible to farmers in remote locations, many of whom do not own internet-linked mobile phones. Farmers and agro-pastoralists are encouraged to register with Sokopepe.

Sokopepe, unlike other e-platforms is the first truly holistic such e-service to be developed in the East African region. Importantly, most of its functions which include: market information;  real time commodity prices in all major urban centres; a mobile phone-based payment solution that works across all networks and which does not require users to own any mobile device, known as Tangaza Pesa (a first in Africa); and a services for farming tips based on simple SMS.

You can register to Sokopepe through or through sms as follows

To register to Sokopepe; Send SMS: REG#IDNumber#FirstName#LastName#County, to 20245 (Wait for confirmation message to activate your account)

To receive market prices; Send SMS: Price#Commodity#Town, to 20245. For example (Price#Maize#Nakuru) and to get farming tips, Send SMS: (Tip#ProductName) to 20245 
Example Tip#maize

Welcome to the unveiling of Sokopepe, which lends itself to the theme of “Where buyers meet sellers”. Feel free to contact Nga’rua Maarifa Centre and be part and parcel of Sokopepe unveiling. We look forward to seeing you during the open day.