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Our History at a Glance
Our History at a Glance


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


  1. The first issue of Baobab magazine (‘no title issue) appears, and the Network begins to take shape.
  2. The name Baobab was identified in a participatory way by majority of network members and was inspired by the tree’s resilience and universal presence in the arid lands of Africa.
  3. Since then 60 issues and over 150,000 copies have been printed and distributed to infomediaries. With an average readership of 15 people per issue, more than 2.5 million readers have been reached.


Arid Lands Unit in Oxfam GB, UK becomes ALIN.


ALIN relocates to Dakar, Senegal and is hosted by Oxfam GB.


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


ALIN receives first major grant from Novib and opens a small satellite office in Kenya in collaboration with Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG) now Practical Action.


Partnerships increase and ALIN undertakes Research for World Space Foundation, USA


  1. ALIN’s strategic shift in the new millennium is necessitated by a global change in the role of traditional networks.
  2.  Resources were getting directed more at networks implementing programmes on the ground hence helping to put emerging ideas into practice.
  3. The shift in ALIN’s strategic focus from a Pan-African network covering both Francophone and Anglophone Africa to an East African focus was therefore informed by the need to consolidate the network and enhance efficiency
  4. ALIN headquarters moves to Nairobi, Kenya after experiencing difficulties in finding adequate funding to keep Dakar headquarters afloat.
  5. East Africa Liaison Office becomes ALIN headquarters and is hosted by ITDG.
  6. ALIN loses connection as a UK charity but keeps the old ALIN board of trustees close to the East African developments.
2001 ALIN is formally registered in Kenya as an international NGO.


  1. ALIN publishes Drip Irrigation Extension Manual and this marks the network’s entry into publishing “how-to-do it” books on issues related to dryland development.
  2. ALIN partners with WorldSpace Foundation, USA in the use of digital satellite broadcasting through the use of radio receivers to deliver information to communities in Eastern Africa. Digital radio receivers were provided to over 50 listening groups across the region facilitating both voice and data access in the absence of good Internet.
  3. ALIN gets funding to implement ICT projects using the WorldSpace satellite technology.
  4. ALIN moves to own offices.


ALIN pilots the Open Knowledge Network (OKN) in collaboration with Oneworld International, UK. The initiative is a system linking together grassroots information and knowledge-sharing initiatives (Local Content, Local People, Local Languages) to promote both the creation and the exchange of local content supported by a range of ICTs.


  1. ALIN publishes Ngitili book, which features the unique approach to sustainable pastoralism in Central Tanzania.
  2. First External Evaluation of ALIN is carried out.          
  3. ALIN starts a private company, Baobab Communications Ltd, to undertake computer refurbishment.


ALIN publishes ICT4D Book featuring its 5 year experience in providing transformative information and technologies to communities.



  1. Community-based Access Points become Community Knowledge Centres (now Maarifa centres).
  2. ALIN launches the CIV programme targeting young college graduates to support local ICT initiatives through the Maarifa centres
2008 2nd External Evaluation of ALIN is carried out.


  1. ALIN files all outstanding returns with the Charity Commission, UK making it a south-based organization with a north establishment.
  2. ALIN launches the first containerised Maarifa (Knowledge) centre to cater for areas with poor infrastructure.