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Sunday, August 21, 2011

ALIN scoops Access to Learning Award ( ATLA) 2011

Arid lands information network is this year’s winner of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation access to learning award (ATLA).
The award recognizes the innovative efforts of public libraries or similar organizations outside the United States to connect people to information through free access to computers and the Internet.
Over the years ALIN has established 12 Maarifa / Knowledge centers across East Africa a noble initiative which enables communities in arid lands to access to computers, free internet service, free library services etc tools which enable them to access the information they need on agriculture, climate change, health and other livelihood issues

Sunday, May 1, 2011


They say that Reading a book is like opening a little world that’s almost like a second life. An alliance between Arid lands Information Network (ALIN) and Book Aid International has opened many little worlds for the residents of Isinya, giving second lives to our library users through a donation of books. The arrival of a consignment of 8 cartons of books is a dream come true, a dream to ensure that information continues to flow to those who need it the most, those that will transform today for a better tomorrow.
Book aid international is an NGO that aims at supporting literacy by increasing community access to books by distributing them to those who need them the most. ALIN on the other hand, connects communities with information by facilitating its free access through its maarifa centers. If this isn’t a match made in heaven then you tell me what is.
The books range from children’s book, novels, books on agriculture, human rights, gender, community development, climate change, health... you name it, have added more variety to our already existing free library service. The 8 boxes couldn’t have come at a better time, just when schools have closed… now , more anxious readers continuously stream into the center ,excited children asking for story books and workbooks, secondary school goers for novels and text books, teachers and university students for reference books, nurses flocking the health section cannot get enough of our collection. I must say for a community knowledge center like ours, there is nothing as amazing as seeing such a noble effort by ALIN and Book Aid go to good use as eager readers take short notes , small bits of knowledge that could be the beginning of their transformation, after all, Life transforming ideas are said to come through books.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


The month of April 2011 has seen new developments in Isinya key among them being the installation of three tubular biogas units by three farmers. The three farmers were trained on biogas technology and energy conservation at a one week community exchange and training program that was held in Ngurumani, Entasopia, Magadi division during the period 16th – 20th March 2011. The workshop and exchange visit involved other participants from Nguruman, Marigat and Ngarua Maarifa centres. Supported by ALIN, this biogas technology initiative is the only one of its kind in Isinya and many farmers are amazed at how cow dung can produce gas for cooking food.

Biogas is a low cost source of alternative energy especially among the rural farmers. Not only is it easy to make but the materials are either readily available or affordable.
Seeing as Isinya is predominantly a pastoralist region, cow dung,the key ingredient in the digestion process is available in many of the homesteads and this venture brings with it an opportunity to put it to good use.
The process of tubular biogas installation is a simple one which requires the following materials: Silage polythene tube, old tyre rubber straps, 2 pieces of pvc pipes, pvc T-elbows, pvc glue, a burner, an old plastic bottle, a pipe and digging tools.

A Select a safe site near the kitchen and dig a trench measuring 1 foot wide, 2 feet deep and 30 feet long.. The trench is dug in such a way that it slopes slightly to allow the sludge to slowly flow through the digester allowing complete digestion of the waste and to facilitate the eventual outflow of the slurry which is the mixture of water and cow dung. , Lay the silage polythene tube in the trench ensuring there are no sharp objects. It’s recommended you use sand or an old polythene prior to laying the silage tubing.The polythene tube is measured to find to find its radius where a pvc tube of about 10 cm in diameter is inserted At the center. The sides of the polythene are then folded carefully from end to center. The edges of the folded polythene tube are the wrapped around the pvc tube and tied tightly in place with a tyre rubber strap, this is done to both ends of the tube providing an inlet and an outlet for the slurry. This process makes the tube airtight providing an anaerobic environment. 1 inch from the inlet a small ,firm pvc pipe is inserted and firmly tied to the tube with a tyre strap.This pipe connects the digester to a longer pipe that feeds into a water bottle bleeds off excess pressure to avoid ruptures and explosions. A T-joint connects another tube which feeds into the burner. The effluent waste is excellent for manure as it has already been broken down. The slurry is filled three quarter way leaving the remaining quarter to act as a reservoir for the gas.

Two weeks after their installation and all the digesters were working. Margaret Ng’otiek also known as Mama Perez was very excited about her digester. “…it has no soot and it does not smell and it is very fast. The chapatis my children are eating, I have cooked using biogas, I also cook tea, ugali and stew, I use it on a daily basis…”

When we visited her home, Rebecca Lemooke (Mama Liz) was away however her daughter Leah was happy to demonstrate how they have been using the biogas and highlight the benefits it has brought to their home. She quickly prepared tea for us …”We mostly boil tea milk, rice… we also cook ugali, vegetables. When I asked her what she likes most about biogas she giggled mischievously telling me how she likes the clean kitchen”…I have noticed that biogas burns clean and our house no longer fills with smoke and ash and this means less cleaning up for me.

Mrs. Ateti on the other hand could not hide her joy. “At first I only cooked soft foods or those that took short to cook….then I decided to give this biogas a bit of a challenge, so the other day I decided to boil beans first I was abit skeptical I thought it would get finished before my beans got ready surprisingly it dint and I was not disappointed and now I cook with it every day, It has also reduced my workload, saving me a lot of time I would have otherwise used to look for firewood.
On seeing such benefits as those experienced by Mama Perez, Mama Leah and Mrs. Ateti, over 5 community members have already made orders to the focal group for installation of digesters in their homes. At the moment the three women are only aware of the short term benefits of biogas that they have experienced so far, without knowing it these woman are slowly by slowly saving the earth seeing as biogas has some major long term benefits like Protection of forests, soil, water and air. Unlike fossil fuel combustion, biogas production from biomass is considered CO2 neutral and therefore does not emit additional Greenhouse Gases (GHG) into the atmosphere; it also reduces the risk of bronchial problems caused by smoke. Just to name but a few.

This technology comes in handy for Isinya community which is in an arid area as the few trees will no longer be violated, women will no longer break their backs in the name of fetching firewood and the cow sheds will remain forever clean, farms will have ready to use high quality fertilizer which is easily assimilated by plants and everyone will be happy.