ALIN will be hosting the SmartAgiExchange program that will bring key stakeholder in the Agriculture Sector to share best practices and foster collaboration. The forum will seek to develop innovative solutions for sustainable Agriculture.

By Jael Colleen

Sipili is a lively town located in Olmoran Ward and surrounded by the stunning landscape of Laikipia
County. This tight-knit rural community, with support of the Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), is
undertaking a transformative project of mapping their community. The development of OpenStreetMap
involves the active participation of the community in the mapping process, which is a crucial element
that enables a comprehensive understanding of the town’s needs, topology, demographics, and the
location of significant resources. The OpenStreetMap (OSM) will be a free, open geographic database,
updated and maintained by a community of volunteers through open cooperation.

Facilitated by ALIN and supported by the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, the Sipili community held
a two-day community mapathon at ALIN’s (Knowledge) Centre. A “Maarifa Centre” is a community
space equipped with appropriate ICT equipment and tools to bridge the digital divide by enhancing
knowledge creation, access, dissemination, and skills development. The Community Mapathon drew
participation from youth within the Ng’arua Maarifa Centre in Sipili and its environment, marking a
collective effort in the mapping of the area. During the mapping sessions, community members received
training on how to use the mapping tools, fostering an environment where they interacted excitedly
with the mapping soft wares. Beyond the mere exploration of technology, these sessions have evolved
into platforms for community members to share their insights and knowledge about the geography of
the Sipili community.

Mr. Allan Wafula expressed excitement about the opportunity he had to explore mapping. “I am
thankful to ALIN for giving me this opportunity to explore mapping. I had never done mapping before. It
was my first time doing it and I found it so impressive and interesting,” Allan said excitedly.
Mr. Joseph Kanyi, a local Cybercafé owner, shared his experience during the first mapathon in Sipili. “I
got the opportunity to learn a new skill. Most of the time, we see maps on Google Maps and wonder
who and when they were generated. I am thankful that we have been given the opportunity to know
how the maps, specifically OpenStreetMap are generated and to be involved in the mapping.” said
Kanyi.

This collaborative effort not only utilizes horning-mapping skills but also holds special significance,
serving as a crucial step in identifying optimal locations for the telecommunication equipment for the
proposed ALINet Community Network. The community network establishment is timely as it supports
the Kenya government’s efforts in establishing 25,000 community hotspots in line with its Digital
Strategy. Beyond the Map project highlights community collaboration, demonstrating how technology
can empower communities and bridge the digital divide. As Sipili Community members navigate the
OpenStreetMap, it will not only be spatial awareness but also have a sense that they played a significant
role in shaping the OpenStreetMap.

By Michelle Wachira

Kilifi County, Kenya, is one of the most vulnerable regions in the country to the devastating effects of climate change. The county is experiencing frequent flooding, rising temperatures, recurrent droughts, sea level rise, land and forest degradation, loss of biodiversity, and desertification. Despite these challenges, Kilifi County is at the forefront of climate action in Kenya. In 2021, the County enacted the Kilifi County Climate Change Act, a groundbreaking piece of legislation that provides a framework for mitigating the impacts of climate change and enabling citizens to adapt to an ever-changing climate.

Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) in partnership with the Kenya Platform for Climate Governance (KPCG), and Oxfam, the Kilifi County Government is working to build the capacity of civil society organizations and communities to advocate for climate-conscious and responsible fiscal policies at the county and ward level. This work is essential to ensuring that the county's budget reflects the needs and priorities of the most vulnerable communities, who are disproportionately affected by climate change.

One key milestone in this partnership is the development of the County Climate Change Fund Regulations. These regulations will establish a fund to support climate change adaptation and mitigation projects and programs in the county. The passage of these regulations will be a major victory for climate justice advocates in Kilifi County. It will send a clear signal that the county is committed to tackling climate change and protecting its citizens and resources.

ALIN is committed to continuing to work with the Kilifi County Government and other partners to tackle the effects of climate change. The organization will lobby for the Kilifi County Assembly to pass the draft Climate Change Fund Regulations, support the review of the third generation County Climate Change Plan, and ensure community priorities are included in the County Integrated Development Plans. ALIN also calls on the county government to invest significantly in climate change adaptation and mitigation projects and programs, and to provide support and resources to vulnerable communities in the county to build their resilience in the face of climate change.

Climate justice can only be achieved if both state and non-state actors actively and effectively take part in advocating for a sustainable future, especially women, young people, and civil society organizations. Kilifi County is setting a powerful example for other counties in Kenya and across the continent by demonstrating how to take bold action on climate change.

By Lucy Ngandu

In the heart of the arid lands of Kajiado County, Kenya, the pastoralist community of Ildamat has always struggled to make ends meet. The harsh climate and unreliable rains made traditional farming nearly impossible, and they were heavily dependent on their cattle and goats for survival. However, the winds of change blew through Ildamat, bringing with them an innovative solution that would transform the community's destiny. The turning point for the Olkiloriti women group of Ildamat came when the Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), in collaboration with GIZ through the International Climate Initiative (IKI) small grants program, introduced solar-powered drip irrigation technology to the community. It was a daring experiment, and the community at Ildamat were both excited and skeptical about the new venture.

Under the scorching sun, a team of experts from Sun Culture Company set up the solar-powered drip irrigation system. They carefully installed solar panels, water pumps, and a network of hoses that snaked through the village's dusty terrain. The system was designed to efficiently deliver water to crops, allowing for year-round farming, even in the driest months. As the solar panels absorbed the abundant sunlight, they converted it into energy to power the water pumps.These pumps drew water from a nearby borehole, and through a series of pipes and hoses, the water was transported to the carefully prepared onion fields. The farmers watched in awe as the once-barren land came to life with lush green rows of
onions.

The initial excitement soon turned into hard work as the Inkii o orpurkel (Queens of the dessert) took on the responsibility of tending to their newfound source of sustenance. Under the guidance of agricultural experts from ALIN and The County Government of Kajiado, they learned the intricacies of onion farming – from planting to nurturing to pest control. With access to a consistent water supply, they could now plan and diversify their crops, reducing their dependency on cattle and opening up new economic
opportunities.

As the weeks passed, the fields of Ildamat flourished. The onions grew bigger and healthier than anyone had ever seen. The solar-powered drip irrigation system ensured that every plant received the right amount of water, maximizing yields and minimizing wastage. The community members marveled at the transformation happening before their eyes, and a sense of hope began to permeate the village. This first harvest was a moment of pure joy and celebration. The villagers, once nomadic pastoralists, are now proud farmers. With the support of ALIN through GIZ, they had not only transformed their barren land into a fertile oasis but also their lives. The onions they harvested were of exceptional quality, and the local markets eagerly took the produce where they fetched high prices.The success of Ildamat solarpowered drip irrigation project has not stopped at onions. The community has started planting watermelon for its second season. This is after they reinvested a percentage of their harvest money.

Word of Ildamat transformation spread, and neighboring pastoralist communities began to take notice. They too wanted to embrace this sustainable farming model. ALIN through GIZ, is inspired by the success in Ildamat, and looks forward to extending its support to other communities, helping them harness the power of solar energy and drip irrigation to break free from the cycle of drought and poverty.

In the end, what started as an experiment in Ildamat Kajiado became a beacon of hope for countless pastoralist communities across Kenya's arid lands. With solar-powered drip irrigation, they did not only harvested onions but also harvested a brighter, more prosperous future.

By Leila Nachawati

"Lack of connectivity does not just limit young people’s ability to connect online; it isolates them from the work and prevents them from competing in the modern economy. That’s why this is such a key area to focus on." The internet is a cross-cutting enabler for education. However, internet access is not distributed equitably around the world, and the African region is among the ones lagging behind in bringing internet connectivity to schools, colleges and out-of-school learners, as research by the Internet Society reveals.

In the case of East Africa, this continues to have a major impact on education, especially among the most vulnerable. Addressing this is the goal of Kenya-based organisation Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), whose latest project provided teachers and schools with open educational resources. “Lack of connectivity limits young learners,” ALIN founder James Nguo stressed in an interview with APC. “It does not just limit children's and young people’s ability to connect online, it isolates them from the work and prevents them from competing in the modern economy. That’s why this is such a key area to focus on,” he added.

With the support of an APC subgrant, between 2021 and 2022 ALIN deployed and trained 86 teachers, facilitators and Ministry of Education and Teachers Service Commission representatives from the villages of Laikipia West (Kenya) and Kirima Sub County (Uganda). A gender perspective was embedded in the project, ensuring that at least 40% of the educators benefiting from it were women. The project, "Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning", is known within the community by its acronym: RACHEL.

Why open resources?

“Open educational resources are more affordable for underserved communities, which may not be able to afford other proprietary software licences. Also, this allows local communities to customise and adapt software to their specific needs, to localise it and align with their cultural context,” ALIN's programme manager Bob Aston explained. He also highlighted the collaboration and networking element of this technology: “The open nature of free/libre and open source technology encourages collaboration among educators, learners and developers, which is key to our communities. They would not be able to connect with both local and global networks to share experiences, resources and best practices otherwise,” he said. “Any device with a web browser can connect to RACHEL, which is specifically designed to teach and study offline. Teachers, students and self-guided learners of all ages can use it without depending on internet access, which is scarce due to remote location,” Aston shared on how the system works. “Servers have a five-hour battery life and are pre-installed with educational content from KA Lite, Wikipedia for Schools, Moodle, GCF LearnFree.org, PhET, Blockly Games and other educational materials developed by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development.”

To enable teachers, facilitators and learners to fully harness the qualities of open educational resources for teaching and learning, capacity building has been at the core of the project. “Autonomy is key, so it was very important that teachers and facilitators learned how to incorporate RACHEL technology and content into their classrooms and further create, access, repurpose, adapt or redistribute digital content to learners,” Aston said. “Feedback by teachers has been very positive. We’ve run several evaluations on the process and most teachers gave a good score to their knowledge and skills on open educational resources after the training, which is our most important indicator,” he noted.

Contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals

As an open educational resource, RACHEL has a central role to play towards Education 2030, particularly on Sustainable Development Goal 4, which calls for the international community to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” with its key pillars of access, equity and inclusion. “We are also contributing to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that all people have basic inalienable rights and fundamental freedoms that include the right to receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers (Article 19) and the right to education (Article 26),” Nguo stressed, “and to the promotion of key principles of the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms, particularly internet access and affordability, right to information, right to development and access to knowledge, marginalised groups and groups at risk, and
gender equality.”

Awareness among policy makers and education leaders

ALIN’s work also includes building awareness of the relevance of these skills and resources among policy makers and education leaders, as well as teachers and learners. “This project has strengthened our Ministry of Education by equipping learners with digital literacy, which is one of the core competencies in the new Competency Based Curriculum (CBC),” Ministry representatives Ol-Moran and Sipili Zone said, in an appreciation letter sent to the organisation. “This is actually one of the pillars of ALIN’s Strategic Plan 2022-2027,” Nguo said. “We aim for digital transformation of the region, school by school, through ICTs for education, which is why we are currently exploring new funding options to support more schools.” Original Publication by Association for Progressive Communications- the link which you will put for the article Seeding change: Promoting open educational resources in East Africa, one school at a time | Association for Progressive Communications (apc.org)

Many residents of Kilifi county do not have enough knowledge about climate issues. This was revealed after the completion of a workshop that brought together stakeholders, activists and community organizations associated with environmental issues in Kilifi.
As the effects of climate change continue to be witnessed around the world, efforts to deal with those effects continue to be made in different ways.

Currently, it has been found that many residents of Kilifi county do not have sufficient knowledge about the issue of climate, this was revealed during a workshop that brought together various stakeholders to discuss climate issues in Kilifi on August 31, 2023.

It may be that various parts of the coastal zone have been affected by climate change, including infectious diseases. This was evident in the conference on health and climate change held on August 30, 2023.

Read more: https://sautiyapwanifm.com/2023/08/31/wakazi-kilifi-wamekosa-ufahamu-kuhusu-mabadiliko-ya-tabianchi/

Journalists drawn from various media houses in Kajiado County have benefitted from a two-day training on climate change reporting and climate smart agriculture organised by the Kajiado County Media Association (KCMA) in conjunction with Arid Lands Information Networks (ALIN) sensitised the journalists on climate change impacts and mitigation measures.

According to James Nguo, Regional Director of ALIN, climate change has resulted in adverse effects on society, and journalists have a big role to play in sensitising and educating the public on how to conserve the environment so as to mitigate its effects.

Addressing the scribes during the training, Nguo said Kajiado is among the most affected counties by climate change.

Read more: https://www.kenyanews.go.ke/kajiado-scribes-tipped-on-climate-change-reporting/

Journalists from Kajiado county have had the opportunity to be educated on how to broadcast news related to climate change with the aim of motivating them on how to educate the public to adapt to climate change.

Olkiloriti women group in Ildamat, Kajiado Central is a happy lot after harvesting onions grown using the solar-powered drip irrigation system.

Though the area is semi-arid and the residents mostly practice rearing cattle which has since been greatly affected by climate change, the residents are now shifting to climate-smart agriculture with support from the Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) financed by the German International Cooperation.

According to ALIN’s Director, James Nguo, climate-smart agriculture has the potential to feed a rapidly growing population even when there is climate change.

Read more: https://www.kenyanews.go.ke/farmers-group-reaps-huge-from-smart-agriculture/

Small-scale farmers in Kajiado are increasingly fighting climate change using today's agricultural innovations. In particular, the solar-powered irrigation system is slowly gaining popularity as pastoralists hard hit by drought conditions shift to crop farming.

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