• ALIN supports communities in East Africa to strengthen resilience against the devastating effects of climate change, maximize agriculture productivity and use the power of digital technologies to transform their lives

Impact Stories

Connecting Sipili: How ALINet Community Network is Bridging Inequality in technology access

By Lucy Ngandu

As technological advancements rapidly increase, the digital divide is widening leaving the most remote
areas in technological obscurity. In line with Kenyan Government Digital Masterplan (2022-2032), the
government in collaboration with other sector players plans to establish 25,000 public internet hotspots
to close the digital gap and democratize access to internet connectivity.
To not only contribute to this vision but also empower the community in Sipili, Laikipia County, the Arid
Lands Information Network (ALIN), a non-profit organization supporting communities in East Africa to
achieve food security and manage the effects of climate by providing practical and usable information
using ICTs, is collaborating with AHERINET to roll out a community network, ALINET. The building block
to this network was made possible through support the Association for Progressive Communication
(APC).
ALINET aims at providing high quality, safe and affordable broadband services in Sipili and its environs.
The community network, using licensed spectrum frequencies, has connected vital community centers
and business including the Ngarua Maarifa (knowledge) center, local administration headquarters, and
computer services and training providers.
The local administrator in charge of the Sipili Location, Chief Jane Njoki, successfully utilizes the ALINET
community network to electronically maintain essential documents and facilitate online government
services. With the technology infrastructure in place, ALIN, in collaboration with Humanitarian Open
Street Mapping, conducted a hybrid training for local youths on open street mapping. The resulting
open street map will not only enhance the community’s spatial awareness but also serve as a valuable
resource for future development initiatives. “As I entered this room I never knew how maps were
generated let alone generating an open street map but now I am in a position to map and gather
accurate data for my community” remarked Mr. Francis Mburu one of the young mappers from Sipili.

The project implementation started with an interactive community meeting involving representatives
drawn from different community groups and villages around Sipili the aim of this engagement being to
obtain an idea of the communities social and economic environments and also gathered their interests
and preferences. This is essential as this grassroots effort is sustained by locals who actively participate
in the maintenance and monitoring of the network, ensuring its relevance and reliability. ALINET has
since set up antennas, servers, and Wi-Fi infrastructure and connected various hotspots.
Mr. Simon Munyeki, ALIN`s Field Officer in Sipili emphasizes the community-centric approach, stating
“ALIN has structured the ownership of ALINET to rest with community members, encouraging them to
be responsible for its infrastructure and management while optimizing its meaningful utilization.” From
online communication for bodaboda (motorbike) riders to facilitating virtual meetings and virtual
learning, the network has become an essential tool for daily activities. Mrs. Susan Kigano a local
business owner, highlights how the network has enabled her to handle financial transactions seamlessly,
demonstrating its practical impact on economic activities.
While digital communication technologies were initially hailed as saviors, they have also played a role in
activities detrimental to communities. The telecom and internet industry, driven by profit motives, often
prioritizes speed and scale, contributing to a significant digital gap. The resulting digital divide leaves half
of the world’s population not connected.

In the face of these challenges, community networks like ALINET spark hope, demonstrating that
technology can empower rather than exploit. By focusing on local needs and fostering community
engagement, ALINET is creating a more just and sustainable world. The story of Sipili serves as an
inspiration, reminding us that true progress is measured not only in technological advancements but
also in the positive impact on the lives of the marginalized.

A Story of Sipili digitizing their resources

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.

Takes Bold Steps to Tackle Climate Change

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.

Harvesting Hope: The Solar-Powered Transformation of the Olkiloriti women group

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.

1 2 3 5

Our Partners

Since its inception ALIN has worked with various donors and partner institutions to further its work. We are grateful to the following institutions that have left a positive mark in our institution and the communities we work with.
Visit our FacebookVisit our InstagramVisit our TwitterVisit our LinkedInVisit our YouTube channel
AAYMCA Building
State House Crescent off State House Avenue,
PO Box 10098 – 00100
Nairobi, KENYA
Mobile: +254 7 28 606916
Tel: +254 (20) 2629762 
Copyright © 2024 Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) | All Rights Reserved
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram