ALIN’s Milestones 1987+

The origins of ALIN/Reseau d’Information des Terres Arides (RITA) date back to 1987 at a conference organized by Oxfam-GB in Cotonou, Benin.

The 65 partners from Anglophone and Francophone Africa who attended the conference came up with the idea of networking as a way of improving development practices in the drylands where Oxfam operated. As a follow-up the Arid Lands Unit (ALU) was established within Oxfam in UK, which was later named RITA-ALIN. In 1991, the ALU moved from the UK to Senegal, where it operated as a unit of Oxfam GB until 1995, when it was launched as an independent British charity with its headquarters in Dakar, Senegal and a liaison office in Nairobi, Kenya. The network covered East and West African regions with concentration in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Chad, Senegal, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda.

Our Achievements

1987 Oxfam GB hosts a major cross-regional workshop on knowledge exchange and The Arid Lands Information Network/Reseau d’Information des Terres Arides (RITA-ALIN) is born – in Benin

1988 First Issue of the BAOBAB appears [‘no title’ issue] Network begins to take shape

1990 Arid Lands Unit in Oxfam GB becomes ALIN

1991 ALIN relocates to Senegal

1993 The Arid Lands Information Network/Reseau d’Information des Terres Arides (RITA-ALIN) is registered as an independent UK Charity with headquarters in Senegal

1995 ALIN receives first major grant from Dutch donor, Novib and opens a small satellite office in Kenya in collaboration with ITDG now Practical Action.


  1. • Founding coordinator, Ced Hesse, departs ALIN after nearly 9 years.
  2. •Search for new Director begins
  3. •ALIN receives financial support from Charity Projects, UK


  1. • New East African Regional Coordinator – James Nguo – takes over from Bob Wagner in Dakar Senegal
  2. • Partnerships increase and ALIN undertakes Research for World Space Foundation in satellite broadcasting


  1. • ALIN HQ moves to Nairobi after closure of Dakar office
  2. • East Africa Regional Office becomes ALIN HQ

2001 ALIN is formally registered in Kenya as an NGO


  1. • ALIN gets funding to implement ICT projects using the WorldSpace satellite technology
  2. • CD ROM on Drylands agriculture practices is developed with support from CTA
  3. • ALIN publishes Drip irrigation extension manual

2003 ALIN pilots the Open Knowledge Network (OKN) in collaboration with Oneworld, UK and joins other reputable networks such as APC, PELUM


  1. • ALIN publishes a natural resource management manual Ngitili and the 2nd Baobab CD-ROM covering articles published between 1987 to 2003
  2. • 1st External Evaluation of ALIN
  3. • ALIN starts computer refurbishment program


  1. • ALIN implements an online information service for non-chemical pest management in the tropics (OISAT).
  2. • ICT4D book is published
  3. •An exchange visit is organized for Ethiopian members in close collaboration with CARE Ethiopia


  1. • Community-based Access Points become Community Knowledge Centres (Maarifa centres) with more ICTs and field-based activities.
  2. • The Community Information Volunteers (CIV) programme is launched to support the work of Maarifa centres

2007 ALIN integrates GSM technology to support internet connectivity at Maarifa centres.

2008 VSAT installation at 3 Community Knowledge Centres; Nguruman, Mutomo and Marigat in collaboration with University of Michigan


  1. • ALIN launches the first containerized Maarifa centre in Isinya, Kenya.
  2. • ALIN start use of web 2.0 application at community level.

2010 ALIN opens Uganda office in a new Strategic Plan

2011 ALIN Regional Director, James Nguo honoured as an Ashoka Fellow in recognition of the Maarifa centre concept

2011 ALIN wins the 2011 Access to Learning Award given annually by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for conceiving and bringing to life the Maarifa concept

2012 ALIN is a co-winner of UNESCO IPDC Prize for Rural Communication for reaching to many rural communities using the Maarifa centre model.

2012 ALIN Maarifa concept is scaled up in a project called Internet Now! -a partnership between ALIN, OxfamNovib, Samasource and Inveneo covering northern Uganda

2016 ALIN rolls out a social enterprise, Sokopepe focusing on farm records and access to markets with support from USAID/Kenya Feed the Future Program.