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Thursday, 21 November 2013

Villagers endure human wild life conflict

By Murigi Ndung’u
A group of elephants visited Ndaragwiti village in tow with their young ones, the herd was one of the major visits experienced with minor damages and destruction. Though maize in the yards were abundance, they caused minimal damage, maybe a gnaw at their ‘‘long lost’’ fruits or herb.
This is unusual. Elephants are some of the animals that are guided by instinct, or why could they drop in so unexpectedly? Did they come to say hi? It’s worth noting that more or less the damage to their habitat could have instigated from-the-blue call. It is most likely that the long lost fruit was cut off from existence when a wood cutting human visited the woodlot.  
The environmental change is no joke and could cause unprecedented disorders into our very livelihoods. The wangwachi dam that has been a source of daily bread to many is now endangered, directly by humanity and climate change. Whenever elephants visit, they only come to report its sadness on the illegal evacuation from its natural home.
If we keep mum, the fish flying in the wangwachi dam are now an endangered species destined for the books of history. Though blinded in oblivion, the environmental degradation that has seen the fall of some basic features has some wee bit of ignorance.
It is true that though somebody burned a heap of charcoal and sold it at an astronomical price, the price they are to pay on the environmental effects of the consequences of their actions is far much severe.
What do you say when the once readily available fish consumed with the African cake disappears? Life will never be business as usual, will it?
Elephants desperate of something to eat will come after our toilsome harvest and the lions will lurk behind the bushes waiting for our herds.
Once the tight balance between the humanity and the environment is upset, the aftermath will be one uncontrollable blast that will be of no desire to man.  

An Insight of Sipili Vicinity

By Murigi Ndung’u
The Sipili-Olmoran region is a natural beauty that inhibits most of the cultural livelihoods of some of the 42 tribes in Kenya.
Community interaction in marriages and collective responsibility is just a hint on what beyond the horizons of Sipili town, though rocked some few years ago by a fatal raid that claimed many lives, more sadly the lives of innocent people.
Sipili has continued to sire great nationals and talents, but most unfortunately these talents are wasted into nothingness due to improper handling and management.
Not to say the poor transport system, the sheer sad state of the educational facilities has also contributed a punch onto the trampling underfoot of the muster talents that may be a huge milestone to our country’s technocracy.
These same resources are the same that later venture into inhuman adventures of gunpoint robberies when faced with the sort of a paradox.
A doctor to be may be forced to wear a mask and carve out a gun to put the bread on the table; this is mostly fueled by the deficiency of standard turbochargers that could at least impart entrepreneurial senses into a good head.
 Some institutions are too dejected such that handling the archetype of slow learners is next to impossibility. The schools on the other side of defense cry foul over inadequate provisions by the government and so on.
Another factor that chips in these disastrous responses from moon-potentiated youths is the social stigmatization that is inherent in the suburbs, mostly caused by social stratification. Though embezzlement of funds has also a hand in it, the need for education without a real focus or goal will only be zero work.
 This is because a lake without an output will always be salty and no life blooms. Similarly, if the subjects don’t input any effort in getting at least a quality merit, they end up being stagnant and of no use.  
I appreciate the efforts of this noble organization called ALIN, it has introduced great opportunities and trainings for the youths and community.

Tactics of mass Psychology

By Murigi Ndung’u  
This is no rocket science though; it is the study of evaluation elements of how the behavioral change is affected by mob generalization. To shed more light to this, it is noteworthy to understand as a person grows the independence wears out in a mass speculation.
Most people develop their idea of a living with what-will-I-look-like precept in their mind. How they will come out, the opinion of others is what fuels their actions. Let us now turn to the youths. Albeit the busy lot, there are still some youths whose destiny is not clear.
Let us shift our view to the pubs, the cinemas, the pool tabling halls and so on. It is common knowledge that a young man who doesn’t attend this social place is no ‘adult’ at all, that is, according to the dictates and patterns of modern society.
 This is the intimidating language that though harmless, it has emptied the innocent youths off their morals, cladding them in crudeness. A boy of years of age below 9 as independent as youth of 15-35 years, this is because many of them are forced by circumstances to walk in peers, a feature of mass psychology, do as peers do, act as others and imitate the most illogic weirdoes that come into the market.
To get acceptance into adult sociality, it is adjacent to a rule that one must do as others do. Peer pressures, mob fanatism, common and unquestioned decisions, among others are the features of mass speculation. It is noteworthy that subtly, a new element is brought into the market and once popular, it is enacted and legalized as a trend which costs a lot of bits dignity.
 This legalizing is done by a group that could brand beautifully even the rejects of the society and people wanting try a new thing fall prey. Social stratification is a snare that has contributed to this and wanting to create equality, an autocratic group blends in trying to bridge the gap, getting the mandate of decision making on what is to enter the market, and then everybody follows.
It is unfortunate that we may fall into the same pit!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Thigio farmers strives to maximize their farm produce

By Bob Aston
In October 2012, the farmers of Thigio Village in Ng’arua Division, Laikipia County decided to form Kilimo Bora Self Help Group with an intention to improve their livelihoods through farming.
The group farms maize, sweet potatoes, cabbages, kales, spinach and tomatoes. They have also established demo plots where they try different varieties of crops and they work hard to improve the yields.
The group is comprised of 17 members, ten male and seven female. Most members are between 30-40 years.
some group members being trained about compost manure

The group is lucky to access water in abundance as they live near Thigio River. They were initially planning to use drip irrigating but the high cost discouraged them. They eventually settled on basin irrigation. They say basin irrigation uses a lot of water but that does not pose a problem for them as water is available in large quantity at the river.
The group started after attending training on dairy farming. During the training one of those present muted the idea of forming a group. They decided to form a group after that.
Sustainable Agriculture Community Development Programme (SACDEPs) Regional Project Co-coordinator, Andrew Munguti says that they have already spent more than two (2) million Kenya shillings on different investments in the group like trainings on Biogas, tanks, goat milk, making of compost and plant medicines.
“We came here because it was specifically covering Ng’arua and Laikipia. We wanted to cover a vast area,” said Munguti.
“We are also involved in capacity building on issues of leadership and management of various projects that we have partnered with farmers,” added Munguti.
Members tending to their farm
The group says that training from SACDEP has helped them to reduce production cost. They can now make their own compost which ensures that land remains fertile.
‘‘We decided to start a group to sustain members as productivity of maize has been decreasing in this area. We also thought that it is prudent to diversify as most farmers in this area plant maize,” said Francis Muremi, Kilimo Bora Self Help Group Treasurer.
Currently members are getting three (3) litres of milk per day from their goats. The group now intends to ensure that they raise funds to enable each member to have his/her own biogas and water tank.
“We never thought that goats could produce such a large amount of milk. We have also completely eliminated use of fertilizers in our farms. We are now capable of making our own compost and also plant medicine,” said Francis.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Snake found in Woman’s house in Kaharati

By Alice Wagura

Kaharati residents in Laikipia County were on November 14, 2013 amazed to find a long snake in one of the homesteads. Eunice Wanjira was dressing his nursery school boy when she spotted a long black object coiled in a heap of clothes; her husband had just left for work.

On closer inspection she saw the object move and realized that it was a snake.She hurriedly removed the kid from the house and dashed to the neighbours house to seek for assistance.The two returned shortly and found the snake trying to escape.

They started screaming while calling other neighbours.Soon a large crowd gathered outside her house.Men picked sticks as others gathered stones before entering to kill the reptile.
“I had never seen such a big snake since I moved to this place,” said Eunice, adding that she had not been getting eggs from her chicken for the past three weeks. ‘‘I tried to investigate the cause or lay a trap to try and catch the culprit in avail,”
She suspected that the snake could have been invading food stuff like milk from her kitchen. Eunice’s homestead was like a ‘museum’ as people from Kaharati, Naibrom and neighboring villages thronged her house to view the body of the snake. The snake was burned the following day, snakes are regarded as bad omen in the Kikuyu community.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Group sets sight in reviving neglected cattle dip

By Bob Aston
Majani Kimugu Cattle Dip Group in Muhotetu division, Laikipia County has set its sight in reviving Kimuu cattle dip. The group which was formed in 2012 has partnered with Sustainable Agriculture Community Development Programme (SACDEP) to revive the neglected dip.
The cattle dip was built in 1999 but was neglected during 2009 drought in the division. It was not being used during that time hence there was no funds to maintain it.
Picture of the neglected Kimuu cattle dip

 Initially Majani Kimugu Cattle Dip Group used to charge each farmer Ksh 10 per cow to dip their livestock, however this became a challenge as some farmers wanted to dip their livestock on credit.
“At the moment members buy acaricides in their homesteads to spray their livestock. This is an expensive undertaking,” said Susan Wambui, Majani Kimugu Cattle Dip Group Treasurer.
The group believes that they will be able to dip more than 400 cattle’s per day once the dip resumes operation. They are currently mobilizing the local community to support their initiative as they believe that the whole community will benefit once they start using the dip.

Sustainable Agriculture Community Development Programme, Regional project Co-ordinator Andrew Munguti asked the group to ensure that they have a strong constitution as well as a good management team so as to ensure that the cattle dip will not be neglected again.
“We have revived over 20 cattle dips in Kenya. The dips that we have revived are still running to date,” said Munguti.
Picture of Kimuu cattle dip
“Dips were given to community without any organized structure. We are reviving them using a structured organization,” added Munguti.

Livestock plays an important role in the economy of Kenya. Majani Kimugu Cattle Dip Group recognizes the importance of livestock. The group says that once they finish rehabilitating the dip it will increase income to the farmers.

“If the dip collapses again we are the ones who will be blamed. We have to try to ensure that the project helps the community and the group members. We have tried before and we know that the dip has a lot of advantages,” said Joseph Ndigirige, the group Chairman.

Dipping of cattle is said to reduce tick borne diseases. Majani Kimugu Cattle Dip Group believes that they will be able to reduce tse tse fly in the area. The opening of the cattle dip is now set for December.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Ford Foundation officer visits Maarifa centre

By Bob Aston
Ng’arua Maarifa Centre received a guest from Ford Foundation on November 7, 2013.The field visit enabled Ivan Tumuhimbise, the Ford Foundation’s Program Officer to learn more about activities carried out by Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) in Sipili Division, Laikipia County.
Photo session at the new Maarifa site
The event also provided an opportunity for farmers in Laikipia County to interact with Ivan; they asked questions and appealed for more support to expand the noble projects carried out at Ng’arua Maarifa centre.

Ivan Tumuhimbise works on economic fairness issues from the Foundation’s Eastern Africa office in Nairobi. His grant making focuses on expanding and strengthening economic opportunities.
Ivan is also in charge of helping poor households and communities expand their livelihoods and build assets. The primary goal of his work is to improve the financial well being of poor rural households by helping them increase and improve the security of their income and assets.
Ford Foundation has partnered with ALIN in expanding livelihood opportunities for poor households. This initiative has been made possible through a grant From Ford Foundation intended for an online and mobile phone market information system to help rural producers access external markets and to pilot a business process outsourcing model for improving livelihoods in rural communities.
Ivan viewing Exhibition stands
The Field visit started at Ng’arua Maarifa Centre. The visitors were taken through a brief history of the Maarifa centre as well as services provided. 

The services mentioned included: Library services, internet access, advisory services, online market information like Sokopepe, E-Government services, ICT Training, Citizen Journalism Training, Multimedia content, publications and Tangaza money.
The visitors then headed to a venue at Sipili school for the Deaf to view exhibition stands set up for Sokopepe, Laikipia Rural Voices, Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative society as well as a few champion farmers from Laikipia County.
The question and answer forum provided a platform for Ford Foundation, ALIN and farmers in Laikipia County to interact as well as share ideas.
Tree planting at the new Maarifa site
 “We want to work with an organization that ensures that people earn more income. What brings me here is seeing how many people are getting out of poverty,’ said Ivan.
“Ford Foundation can assist farmers through exposure visit,” added Ivan.
Most Farmers recounted their earlier experience before ALIN pioneered Sokopepe. They talked about exploitation by middlemen before introduction of Sokopepe.
“The community and farmers have improved a lot through sokopepe.I have personally gained by selling my produce through Sokopepe,” Said Waweru Kanja, Chairman of Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society.
Sokopepe is an initiative of 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.
Ford Foundation representative then visited maize aggregation centre for Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society before finally visiting the new site for Ng’arua Maarifa Centre.
The Maarifa centre is set to be housed next to the District Officer’s office at Sipili. Ivan from Ford Foundation, Samuel Mwangi, ALIN’s Team Leader for Community Empowerment and Anthony Mugo, ALIN’s Deputy Director each planted a tree at the new Maarifa site.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Sipili card designer creating a niche for himself in the creative industry

By Bob Aston
Creativity industry has struggled to reach its full potential in Kenya, but for the past one year, a 30 year old man from Sipili Division, Laikipia County is leading the way by designing cards.
Victor going through his work
Victor Gachigi has been designing unique cards for special people since September 2012. He did fine Art in high school and generally loves Art. Art has been his hobby since childhood but he never got to explore his talent until last year.
The idea of designing cards came as a coincidence to Victor. He was walking in his shamba and found banana fibres. He decided to try to use the banana fibres to see if he could use it to design cards. The outcome was encouraging and hence the card making business was launched.

Most of his designs are inspired by nature like wildlife and local environment. The gift cards are unique in design as they are made using natural materials like banana and grass fibres.
“I was looking for a platform to express myself as well as a means of earning an income,” said Victor.
Victor normally makes gift cards, get well cards, thank you cards, season greetings, Easter Monday, winter cards, wedding cards, invitation cards and congratulation cards.
Some of the cards designed by Victor
“Early this year, I travelled to Nyahururu to take some samples to Spears Supermarket. I then headed to CleanShelf Supermarket afterwards. I was called a week later by Spears Supermarket,” said Victor.
Victor could not manage to transact business with Spears Supermarket as he did not have Electronic Tax Register (ETR) as well as KRA pin. He was then called by Cleanshelf supermarket and asked for the same. The supermarket agreed to put an order despite Victor not having ETR machine, he was required to get KRA pin. He was also advised to register his company as well as obtain ETR machine.
“I am glad that Ngarua Maarifa Centre assisted me in getting KRA pin free of charge,” said Victor.
Victor has already delivered four (4) dozen cards to Cleanshelf supermarket. He has been informed that once the supermarket runs out of the cards they will give another order.
Kenya’s Constitution recognizes the value of the creative industries to Kenyan society. In particular it notes that “every person has the right to freedom of expression, which includes the right of freedom of artistic creativity”.
“I would like to urge youths in Kenya to explore their talents. You will only manage to reach your full potential when you do that,” said Victor.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Sipili Jua kali artisan leads way in innovation

By Bob Aston
The informal sector is a crucial sector for Kenya. During the 1980s the term jua kali (Kiswahili for 'hot sun') came to refer to anybody working in self-employment in Kenya. In Sipili division, Laikipia County a 29 year old man is leading the way in Jua Kali Innovation.
Charles selling technology lambs
Charles Muchiri has made technology lamps for the past one year. The innovative lamps are made using readily available materials.

“I was motivated to come up with technology lamps because of the smoke normally produced by kerosene lamps. I believe that this lamps are more environment friendly compared to Kerosene lamps,” said Charles.
Bottom of Form
 “The smoke produced by kerosene lamps made me think of an innovative way of coming up with a solution. I decided on the technology lamps. It was difficult at first as I had to discard different designs before finally arriving at the one I now use.” he added.
Charles says that the technology lamps have various advantages compared to the kerosene lamps. There are no side effects like smoke, last longer and is a new technology which is relatively cheap and most materials are readily available.
A display of the technology lambs
Charles normally makes an average of ten (10) technology lamps per day. He travels to various markets around Laikipia and Nyandarua counties to sell his products.
“Technology lamps will help one cut down on costs of buying kerosene. One is only required to buy three batteries for the lamp,” said Charles.
The informal sector is currently undergoing a rapid expansion in Kenya. The sector now plays a central role in the social economic sphere of Kenya.
Jua kali has been out of favour in national policy for several decades and has often been neglected and treated as low class, despite its important role in creating income for most Kenyans. Charles is leading the way in showing the importance of the Jua Kali sector in Kenya.