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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.
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