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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Embracing sports as a catalyst of social change in Ol-Moran Ward

By Bob Aston
Sports is arguably the only universal language and has been proven to promote unity, coherence and identity of community members.
It has been proven to bring about exchange and building relationships between different groups including as a non-verbal means of communication, helping communities engage in collective experiences, establishing direct physical contacts amongst the players and supporters as well as its ability to transcend class divisions.
The MCA addressing football players and supporters
In Ol-Moran Ward, Laikipia West Sub County, the area Member of County Assembly (MCA) Hon Duncan Ndegwa has popularized football in the ward by organizing various football tournaments.
The tournaments are usually organized to avoid idleness among the youths in Ol-Moran ward, increase competitiveness among soccer clubs in the ward, to identify and develop soccer talents and to promote club development in the ward.
The tournaments have become a common occurrence at Sipili Football Stadium to the extent that locals are usually seen every Sunday afternoon streaming to the stadium to catch a glimpse of their local teams in action.
Football has brought communities in the ward together. Seeing football enthusiasts together on Sundays cheering their teams and holding their breath in unison at every big moment depicts sports as a bonding tool that has helped many youths in the area to spend their weekends productively.
Football teams such as Charlton United, Ol-Moran FC, Nagum FC, Super eleven, Sipili Secondary School, Lariak Day Secondary School, Bondeni FC and Kio FC have now become household names and most football fans openly associate with one of the teams.
“Football has become a common language in Ol-Moran Ward. It is now a common denominator that breaks down all the cultural barriers of the various communities in the ward. Anyone can enjoy a game of football regardless of political ideologies, ethnicity or religion. Youths in the ward are now ambassadors for bringing tolerance and respect for each other,” said Ms. Grace Wangui from Ol-Moran MCA’s office.
Football supporters cheering their teams
At the grassroots level the football tournament has created an environment in which youths in the area have come together to not only hone their skills but also entertain themselves. Players particularly drawn from Charlton United and Bondeni FC have even started testing their strength with teams drawn from Thigithi Ward.
Mr. John Chege, a resident of Sipili said that most youths are now spending their time engaging in sports instead of idling. He noted that the level of sportsmanship portrayed by both the football players as well as the supporters has left an indelible mark in the sporting fraternity in the ward.
“The MCA has really engaged youths through sports. This is something that we support as youths and we will always appreciate such initiatives. The standards of football has also improved,” said Mr. Chege.
The bottom line is, sports create a sense of community and togetherness among people from all walks of life. Teammates and fellow fans develop a connection that bonds them for life through competing or spectating.

Climate smart agriculture for communities’ resilience in Matwiku

By Noah Lusaka
Farming as a business is becoming more risky due to rainfall variability and erratic patterns experienced in recent times affecting farmers’ access to sustainable water resources for food production. This article shares the experiences of Matwiku Horticulture Growers Self Help Group based in Githiga Ward, Laikipia County. The Group has adopted climate smart agriculture resulting in efficient use of increasingly scarce water.
The Matwiku Horticulture Self-help Group
The group has 21 members composed of 19 males and two females. Group members are experienced in growing kales, tomatoes, onions and cabbages during the dry season and they consolidate their produce for marketing.
They used to grow crops using conventional furrow and basin irrigation system that involves pumping water using diesel or petrol-powered generators from the nearby Kariaini Dam. “This type of irrigation takes over seven hours to irrigate one acre and the generator will consume six liters of petrol,” says Raphael Wa Mutito, 18.
Farmers learning about Climate Smart Agriculture during an outreach activity
Given that farmers irrigate their farms twice weekly, they incur about Kshs. 1300.00 (US$14) which translates to over Ksh.15, 600.00 (US$173) for fuel alone for horticultural production in a season lasting three months.
Climate smart agriculture practices
Climate smart agriculture aims at reducing emissions at the farm level, conserving natural resources particularly soil and water, while increasing nutritious food production at household level and increasing family incomes.
This project was introduced to Matwiku Horticulture Growers Self Help Group by Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) in partnership with Act. Change. Transform! (Act!) with financial support from the Embassy of Sweden and the United Kingdom Agency for International Development (UKAID).
The project aims at strengthening communities’ resilience as well as enhancing income generation from horticultural production while creating employment opportunities for women, men and young people.
 Among the climate smart agriculture practices include: Water harvesting and conservation- group members have invested in digging a shallow well near the farm that is now providing sustainable water supply; drip irrigation technology which uses water more efficiently and enhances water control and conservation on the farm; and planting of tree tomato plants that produce fruits while sequestering carbon dioxide. Soil fertility enhancement is done through use of farm yard manure. The group also prepares their own liquid manure.

Setting up the drip irrigation system

Group members were trained on setting up the drip irrigation system and its management in mid-November 2014. During the five-day training, a 5,000-liter water tank was mounted on a firm metal platform with an elevation of three meters above the ground, bringing about enough pressure for water to irrigate one acre.
Some of the group members weeding
Participants dug trenches to lay out the piping system on the one acre farm that was subdivided into eight smaller plots and each plot installed with a gate valve for controlling water during irrigation. The drip irrigation taps were then connected to the water pipes where one raised bed had two drip tapes.
The final stage involved mounting the water storage tank. A water filter was fixed at the water tank outlet to reduce clogging of the drip tapes. Group members learned that it is important to regularly check and clean the filter to ensure smooth water supply to the farm.
To test the drip irrigation system, the storage tank was filled with water and each of the eight farm units watered at intervals to wet the soil. The group then planted tomatoes at the wetted soil zones covering four blocks: two blocks for cabbages and two for beans.
Outreach activities
The group members, with the support of ALIN, organized an open day in January 2015 where over 350 farmers participated and learnt about climate smart agriculture practices including water harvesting and its efficient utilization. The opportunity offered a platform for communities to interact with the County leaders.
Lessons learnt
Some of the members enjoying the fruit of their labour
Less water is used per acre since the water targets the root zone of the crops only; therefore helping in water conservation and efficient use for food production. The crops are grown systematically and are evenly spaced. Drip irrigation reduces workload for farmers since the water is easily controlled per block by only one person opening the gate valve then water flows through the drip tapes reaching each plant.
Also energy for water pumping is conserved by using the generator less frequently hence reduction of harmful emissions. Water is distributed to a section of the land that is slightly sloping and encourages crop growth. The group has initiated a revolving fund that enables all farmers to access the drip irrigation technology enhancing their resilience by producing food without relying on rainfall.
Initially the group was drawing water for irrigation from Kariani Dam. As the drought intensified however, the dam completely dried up in mid-February 2015. They had to innovatively dig up a shallow well near their farm to overcome this constraint.
The Matwiku area is near a conservancy hence farmers have to guard their crops against elephants and other game during the night. Neighboring pastoralist communities also pose a threat because they occasionally allow their animals to stray into farms, resulting in conflict.
Source: Laikipia Mali Asili. You can download a copy of the newsletter here
Noah Lusaka is a Programme Manager at ALIN he can be reached through

Monday, 29 June 2015

Whatever the reason, the business success is yours to chart

By Murigi Ndung’u
Why do people go into business? There are several reasons to that. But what is the reason you decide to go into business? The concern is your particular reason. An entity, a person or an organization may start a business with the idea of covering a market niche; this is utilizing the available market gap that is yet to be exploited.
Take for example in rural areas where there is a deficiency in technological advancement. If an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) group introduced computers, and the subsequent technology, then that would be exploiting the market niche.
Other people go into business just because they want to be their own boss, that’s right; they want to employ themselves and keep it that way. But why is this so. There are several factors that fuel this kind of motivation and most of them are purely personal reasons.
One of the professional reasons is the education coupled with the skills.  A person may start a business just because they feel they are competent to manage and oversee everything, they feel their skills are too good to be employed at a ‘peanut salary’.
Others go into business to keep their leisure taste in touch while others want to do a better job of what is already provided in the market, but why go into business shouldn’t be an issue to make your business die along the way, in fact it should be horned to give the best of your entrepreneurial flair.
There are several things to consider that may be inclusive but not exclusive, these are; the objectives of the business, availability of the market and good market research and dynamism of the business.

If you don’t accomplish the objectives, your business is deemed to fall the next minute, similarly if the market tastes and preferences are not your idea of business, it will also crumble like a castle of cards, this now automatically calls for market research. If you don’t move with the trends, you will automatically be hurled out of the centrifuge, all these and many others are what will make you succeed, not the reason you started the business.

Ensuring proper management of water resources in Laikipia

By Bob Aston
Increase in population and economic activities have led to increase in demand for water resources across the country. This has not only affected agricultural production but has also contributed to water related conflicts.
In some areas covered by Ewaso Ngiro North Catchment Area (ENNCA), excessive abstraction of river water for both irrigation and domestic use in the upstream areas usually leaves very little water for downstream users.
Water scarcity issues have become critical along a number of tributaries resulting in water conflicts within the catchment area. This continues to escalate as surface water which these activities depend on gets scarce.
Importance of protecting our wetlands
The area covered by ENNCA is about 210,226 square kilometres, which is about 36 percent of the total area of Kenya spread over ten counties. It covers the whole of Laikipia, Samburu, Marsabit, Wajir, Isiolo and Mandera counties and also parts of Nyeri, Meru, Nyandarua and Garissa counties.
It is the largest of all the six sub catchments but with the least population as it falls in a semi-arid landscape. It lies in Kenya’s dry corridor with well-defined double maxima of rainfall in March-May (long rains) and October- December (short rains). Most of the catchment is below 1,000 m above sea level.
Drainage is controlled by four major independent systems namely: Ewaso Ng’iro North River, Ewaso Laggas, Daua system and Chalbi system. It also has five sub regions namely: Upper Ewaso Ng’iro, Middle Ewaso Ng’iro, North Ewaso Laggas, Ewaso-Daua and Engare-Narok Melgis.
Water related issues
Mr. Timothy Mutie, ENNCA Regional Technical Manager, noted that proper water resource management can help in addressing the food security situation in Laikipia County. He said salient issues facing the catchment include: extensive degradation in the past as a result of deforestation, encroachment into water catchment areas, cultivation in wetlands and overgrazing.
Pollution from agro-industries, effluent discharge and solid waste from urban areas are also issues which continue to affect water resources in the catchment.
Addressing water related issues
He said that they came up with catchment management strategy (CMS) to regulate management of the water resources and related land resources in the catchment. CMS also outlines how the concept of integrated water resources management can be implemented at the catchment level.
Some of the strategies that ENNCA is currently pursuing to resolve water issues include: improving the use of water resources management tools for effective water resources planning and allocation; strengthening stakeholder collaboration to enhance water storage; and adaptation to climate change impacts and to strengthen use of water resources management tools and collaboration for effective catchment protection and conservation.
The ENNCA management has been collaborating with stakeholders like Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF), National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Water Resource Users Association (WRUA), Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and the Ministry of Water, Environment and Natural Resource in resolving water related issues in the sub catchment.
ENNCA future plans
In order to meet customers and regulatory requirements in water resources management, ENNCA regional office management is planning to: enhance equitable allocation of water resources through increasing the time the reserve flow is maintained at determined points by two percent; and reducing water use conflicts by addressing reported complaints within ten working days.
Source: Laikipia Mali Asili. You can download a copy of the newsletter here

Friday, 26 June 2015

Where Has Water Gone?

By Caroline Mateta
Our beloved water, where have you gone?
Rivers, lakes, underground water, where have you gone?
Water! Water! Where have you gone?
Our negative activities have made water disappear,
Forest destruction and bush fires, all contribute,
Waste management and poor land, use all contribute,
Water! Water! Where have you gone?
Destruction of catchment areas, wet land and springs,
Grabbers, corruption, overgrazing and overstocking,
Water! Water! Where have you gone?

Generation to come will ask, “Where has the water gone?”
Livestock and birds will wonder, “Where has the water gone?”
Wild animals and insects will wonder, “Where has the water gone?”
Water! Water! Where have you gone?
Increased human wildlife conflict, the order of the day,
Food insecurity and severe drought, the order of the day,
Water! Water! Where have you gone?
Water! Water! Save us from the increased poverty,
Water! Water! Save us from the loss of animals,
Water! Water! Save the generation from income,
Water! Water! Where have you gone?

Caroline Mateta is class 7 pupil at Ol-Jabet Primary School