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Friday, 11 September 2015

Resource Centre proves beneficial to youths

By James Mwai
Ng’arua Maarifa Centre located in Ol-Moran ward of Laikipia County has been an important resource Centre for many students in Sipili town who have been able to utilize their free time studying and accessing information at the Centre.
Established in 2007 by the Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), the Maarifa Centre has been offering free services that include; Library services, E-government services, multimedia content, internet access, citizen journalism training, ICT training, advisory services, publications like Joto Afrika, Baobab and Laikipia Mali Asili as well as Sokopepe.
After clearing high School, Moses Ndungu spent most of his time at the Maarifa Centre while awaiting to join University. At the Centre, he learned basic journalism skills such as news writing, feature writing, creating writing, photojournalism, interviewing, blogging and media laws, and ethics.
This knowledge enabled him to spend most of his free time at the Centre documenting and disseminating information through Laikipia Rural Voices blog. He also worked on two novels and poems.
Youths accessing information at the Maarifa Centre
He dedicated part of his time at the Maarifa Centre volunteering by helping community members access various types of information. He noted that the Centre provided an opportunity that left a lasting impression on him. 
Despite having joined University in September, he is following up on what is happening at the Centre through Laikipia Rural Voices blog.
“Ng’arua Maarifa Centre helped to mold my computing skills in a forthrightly free manner that allowed me access priceless competence at zero cost. It allowed me real experience on journalism. This inculcated in me an inquisitive nature that most journalists possess,” said Moses.
On his part, James Mwangi, a student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) spent most of his holiday at the Maarifa Centre learning PHP, HTML and JavaScript programming. Access to information at the Centre proved vital as he was not only able to research online but he was also able to read many programming books at the centre.
“I managed to read Macs All in one Desk Reference for Dummies and AQUA computing. The library at the centre helped to broaden my knowledge in command driven programming,” said James.
On her part, Eunice Nyambura, a Soil and Water Conservation Engineering student at JKUAT noted that the Maarifa Centre provided her with a conducive environment for researching on Rain Water harvesting.
She has been travelling from Kaharati to the Maarifa Centre, a distance of 1.5 kilometres to access various materials for her project. She is keen in ensuring community members are able to adopt various water harvesting technologies.
“I hope my research will benefit the community. People are not managing the scarce water resources and others have not even invested in water harvesting equipment’s in their homesteads,” said Eunice.
Peter Nderitu noted that after clearing his University degree he has been frequenting the Maarifa Centre to search for online jobs and at the same time to research on poultry and mango farming.
In early August, he managed to purchase 10 mango seedlings from the Laikipia County Government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries at the Maarifa Centre. He is confident that the agricultural advisories services that he has been receiving at the Centre will make him a better farmer.
“I have been able to spend my free time productively through the Maarifa Centre at no cost.  Of late I have been seeking for market information about Thorny Melon and I am glad that I managed to obtain the information at the Maarifa Centre,” said Nderitu.
ALIN has strategically focused its efforts to improve the livelihoods of arid lands communities in East Africa through delivery of practical information using modern technologies with emphasis on small-scale sustainable agriculture, climate change adaptation, natural resources management, climate smart agriculture, and sustainable land management (SLM) through Ng’arua Maarifa Centre.
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