Thursday, December 21, 2006

Can blogs shrink the planet?

Read a Wired report from the a Global Blogging Conference in Delhi. Describes global blogging and the use of blogs for campaigning, justice, shrinking the planet....

WATER - an example project 20km from Kambu

The Usalama Water Project blog aims to bring clean water to a village near Kibwezi and not far from Kambu (more or less here in the middle - kambu towards the bottom right). Engineers without borders (usa) are helping plan and build a pipeline tapping into the existing Mtito Andei pipeline which is 4km away. Obviously we are not going to lay a pipe and that is probably not what is needed anyway but the MDI people might be able to learn/start something useful researching from a blog like this. Note the use of the blog for publicity and accepting donations via paypal.

Want to watch a film about the project?

EUREPGAP - The global Partnership for Safe Sustainable Agriculture

The EUREPGAP site contains latest news, online training, trainer guidelines, publications etc... but the only protocol (from agribusiness information services) I found online for fruit and vegetable so far is from 2001 (a new one was approved in 2004, I think).

In Kenya realIPM provide EUREPGAP training (course overview) and other training and do field research including bioprospecting for natural crop protection. DFID funded the poster above and worked with Freshlink to help farmers acquire certification.

Kenya Gatsby Trust is working with AfriCert to mobilize and capacity build smallholder farmers for certification and in collaboration with Rockfeller Foundation, TechnoServe and AfriCert (formally a project of ICIPE) to facilitate accreditation of a local EUREPGAP certfying body and subsequent certification of MSEs to sustain and/or penetrate the European markets. They also have technology for agriculture projects and work with Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology which is where one of the Mtito Andei Development Initiative members works.

IDRC also supported a Pride Africa project in Kirinyaga aimed at producing a EUREGAP booklet for local farmers (see also Pride Africa DRUMNET - phase 2 with IDRC ).

There is an EU FP7 project proposal "Common European standards for hygiene in the agricultural and food processing sector – Information and communication technologies and sensors for a user friendly verification management" (presentation) which I haven't yet found anymore info about.

And finally, a radio programme from oneworld, two trainers from Zambia describing their work with small scale farmers to meet Eurepgap export standards.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Freshlink (Vegetable Marketing Organisation)

From Promoting Growth in Africa: trade - A DFID factsheet
Access to International Markets
"If you’re a Kenyan farmer, how do you know what European shoppers want and demand? In Kenya, the DFID Business Services Marketing Development Project, supports ‘Freshlink’, which links small farmers with vegetable and fruit exporters. Freshlink provides technical training to farmers groups’ and helps the groups to establish quality control systems which enable them to comply with EurepGap, a European supermarket code of practice. Prior to the project, Freshlink was selling produce to only one exporter but now has contracts with 3 exporting companies. The number of farmers exporting produce has tripled and many have diversified into other crops such as passion fruit and snow peas. "

An interesting presentation on the work of Fresh Link "Breaking Barriers ­ - ­Freshlink Vegetable Marketing Organisation Producer Groups Experience" finishes by describing the challenges they face:

  1. Low growth of market size
  2. Markets failure to recognize and reward effective management through price incentives
  3. Weak commercial contracts
  4. Weak producer group management and governance structures
  5. High costs of implementing Eurepgap Standard and no commensurate increase in returns on investment
and asking for contributions (the presentation pdf)

A Nation (Nairobi Paper) describes the experience of one farmer and why he is switching from growing coffee to growing vegetables for Fresh Link (see here).

Not to be confused with fresh link .

Mtito Andei Development Initiative

We met the Mtito Andei Development Initiative community based organisation on a visit to Kambu. They have a history of collaboration with development projects in Kambu and a mission to 'alleviate poverty' in this area. Members of the group participated recently in a workshop on Community-based adaptation - how and why it works, and ways to mainstream in Nairobi.

From notes for a presentation by Rachel Berger (Practical Action) on "Community based adaptation, an approach to scaling up".
"Building capacities works best by involving those you want to influence from the start as partners and stakeholders. This we have found much more effective than merely demonstrating successful practice. There is a good example in Kathekani – the local CBO, Mtito Andei Development Initiatives, involved the governments – district officials in KARI, (Kenya Agricultural Research Institute) and ALRMP (the government’s Arid Lands Resource Management Programme) – in the promotion of amaranth as a dryland crop with high nutritive value; now the govt. is promoting the crop widely in the district, sourcing some seed from MDI"

To find out more about MDI see their blog.

Setting up a Community Computer Centre

A post from a Peace Corp Volunteer in Togo on his project to setup a community computer centre in collaboration with a local school (read about it here).

The comments on this post are interesting; people sharing their experience of trying to do similar things, worries about sustainability and cost, worries about 'technology evangelism', etc...

ICT4D Wiki

Just a link to a Wiki that links to a lot of ICT4D sites and resources. ICT4D_Wiki_home

Monday, December 11, 2006

W3C Workshop on the Mobile Web in Developing Countries

The "W3C Workshop on the Mobile Web in Developing Countries" aims to understand specific challenges of mobile Web access within Developing Countries, in terms of their needs, blocking factors, and potential usages.

For position papers see here

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Bringing Clean Water to Africa

Case Foundation report about project to bring clean water to 10 million people throughout sub-saharan africa.

Mentions the PlayPump water system "water system is a children's merry-go-round attached to a water pump that provides easy access to clean drinking water for schools and communities in Africa. This innovative design operates like a windmill turned on its side. As children play and the merry-go-round turns, the water is pumped into an above-ground storage tank and later accessed by means of a simple tap. " Click for more.

Also, the Kickstart hand/hip pumps and a link to the "Innovations in Water, Sanitation and Energy Services for Poor People" webcast, which includes video presentations of new water projects and interviews with developers of innovative water solutions.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Kenyan Mobile Phone Operators

See the Celtel Kenya and Safaricom for details about coverage (ck sc) and data services (ck sc).

See here for visitors to Kenya info Safaricom.

It is possible to buy a Kenyan SIM card before arriving but is perhaps easier to do on arrival.

Celtel dealers Safaricom dealers

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

BBC World Class - School Linking

See BBC World Class for information about linked (several in Kenya) schools, experiences of school linking, resources fro linking schools etc...

Wider Horizons - 4 go to Kenya

"Four British teachers embark on a trip to gain first-hand experience of life at the Moro High School in Kisumu, Kenya."

Watch the video about 4 UK school teachers and their experience in a rural school in Kenya.

Monday, November 06, 2006

UNDP Kenya's Growing Sustainable Business

"The GSB initiative in Kenya is actively facilitating innovative enterprise solutions to poverty in a variety of sectors. " For an up-to-date list of projects see the GSB Kenya page.

This site has been updated recently and the Freeplay sustainable energy and Farmer Information DRUMNET projects are now listed as past projects.

A current project of potential interest is the Celtel Kenya project: "With only 5 million out of 36 million Kenyans on a cellphone network, there is a vast potential market of Bottom of the Pyramid consumers who still lack telephony. By creating a broad network of independent community payphone entrepreneurs, Celtel can tap into this as yet unreached market". Download project document

KickStart - developing & marketing new technologies in Africa

"KickStart, established 1991 in Nairobi, is a non-profit organization that develops and markets new technologies in Africa. These low-cost technologies are bought by local entrepreneurs and used to establish highly profitable new small businesses." Website includes information on the technologies and business model. The technologies are not currently ICT based but they are "always searching for new profitable small business models for Africa, and as we find them we will continue to develop and promote the required new technologies. Although only thorough market research will tell, we see the potential for many new small business models including everything from low-cost well drilling or improved milk transport services, to the generation and sale of electricity or the low-cost provision of communication and business services in small towns".

Automated Data Collection in Western Kenya

From the CODATA 2002: Frontiers of Scientific and Technical Data conference

A presentation about field data collection for an anti-malaria project in Western Kenya using GPS, pda and solar powered battery chargers (for more...).

And another about "The Role of IT and Data Management in Expansion and Change at a Remote Research Unit in Kenya".

CODATA is the International Council for Science : Committee on Data for Science and Technology

Friday, November 03, 2006

KARI - Kenya Agricultural Research Institute

The Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) "is a premier national institution bringing together research programmes in food crops, horticultural and industrial crops, livestock and range management, land and water management, and socio-economics. KARI promotes sound agricultural research, technology generation and dissemination tre food security through improved productivity and environmental conservation".

KARI publications

Rural Finance Learning Centre - Marketing for small-scale producers

A book (pdf available online) on marketing intended for small-scale producers, contains an interesting anecdote about Kibrigiwi farmers' experience with marketing of tomatoes and the history of the current switch to French Beans, sweet potatoes and maize.

The Rural Finance Learning Centre "is about providing financial services for people living in rural areas. This Learning Centre aims to assist organisations in developing countries to build their capacity to deliver improved financial services which meet the needs of rural households and businesses." A variety of training, online lessons and publications are available.


DrumNet, "a project of PRIDE AFRICA, was launched in late 2002 to deliver a set of critical business support services directly to the African smallholder farmers. It is designed as marketing, financial and information services for mainstreaming resource-poor farmers. It combines information, commodity transaction services and financial linkages into a single business service model that provides access to markets, market information and credit for the rural poor to support sustainable agriculture and rural development. "

CAB International

CABI - "Our mission is to improve people’s lives worldwide by providing information and applying scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment. CABI-Africa Regional Centre (Nairobi) focuses its activities on six themes that impact on the livelihoods of the rural poor in Africa.

  • Rural knowledge systems
  • Smallholder commodity chains
  • Sustainable pest management
  • Alien invasive species
  • Conservation and utilisation of biodiversity
  • Information and communication technologies"

Kenyan Agriculture Commodity Exchange

Kenya Agricultural Commodity Exchange (KACE)

"The KACE website,, has been developed to serve as a virtual library of agricultural information and also as a virtual trading floor or platform for commodities.

Virtual library
The content is developed to include information on major farmers' organizations and their commodity interests, input suppliers, commodity traders / brokers, other marketing services (e.g. storage, transport, credit) providers, trade policies and tariffs, export quality requirements for different markets, etc. The content is continuously reviewed, updated and expanded to keep it most current and relevant.

Virtual trading floor
This is an electronic trading platform developed to enable clients to place commodity offers to sell and bids to buy. KACE IT staff facilitate trade transactions between client sellers and buyers in an e-commerce fashion.

Through RECOTIS and the website, KACE clients are linked into Kenyan, regional (Eastern Africa) and international markets, enabling them to transact export and import trade most efficiently."

Macs Join the Masai

"The new school in the Masai village of Oloolaimutia in East Africa runs day and night now, even though the majestic tribe lives without electricity or running water in its nearby compound of mud houses."

The story of building a school and using Macs in a Masai village. Not much about how the Macs are being used though...

"The Masai Power and Education Project is dedicated to building schools, installing electric power and providing computers and other educational equipment for children in Africa. For more information, visit"

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Wireless sensors in agriculture and food industry...

Just a link to a review paper I found useful in getting an overview of possible uses of sensors in agriculture.

Wireless sensors in agriculture and food industry—Recent development and future perspective. Ning Wanga, Naiqian Zhangb and Maohua Wangc.

Abstract: This paper presents an overview on recent development of wireless sensor technologies and standards for wireless communications as applied to wireless sensors. Examples of wireless sensors and sensor networks applied in agriculture and food production for environmental monitoring, precision agriculture, M2M-based machine and process control, building and facility automation and RFID-based traceability systems are given. The paper also discusses advantages of wireless sensors and obstacles that prevent their fast adoption. Finally, based on an analysis of market growth, the paper discusses future trend of wireless sensor technology development in agriculture and food industry.

Available from Computers & Electronics in Agriculture

Kambu Information

Kambu on fallingrain Topography, Population, Maps, Weather
Kambu on Google Text, Images

Baricho Information

Baricho on fallingrain Topography, Population, Maps, Weather
Baricho on Google Text, Images

School Linking & Lessons learnt & materials from ICT & Education projects linking UK & Ghana

Global Gateway helps link UK schools with schools around the world. Some funding is available to support linking activities. There are many schools in Kenya listed. The British Council in Kenya have more information.

Fiankoma "The Fiankoma Project has been working with teachers, schools and communities in Ghana and the UK using digital technologies to facilitate cultural exchange and discussion of development issues in both countries." Although not work done in Kenya this has potentially useful examples of educational materials, lessons learnt etc...

Project Understandings of Education in an African Village: the Impact of Information and Communication Technologies "a case study centred on one village and involving collaboration between researchers from Africa and Europe using participatory and ethnographic methods. It investigated students’, teachers’, parents’ and other community members’ understandings of schooling in a rural village in Ghana (‘Akurase’). " Also, not work done in Kenya.

Digital Education Enhancement Project & Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa

These projects are interesting because of their experience with developing and using materials for in-service teacher training using handheld devices and laptops.

TESSA is a research and development programme creating 'open content' multimedia resources and course design guidance for teachers and teacher educators in Sub-Saharan Africa. Leading to a Toolkit for Educators and Planners : Designing Open and Distance Learning for Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa. TESSA is led by The Open University (UK) and the African Virtual University (AVU) based in Nairobi, Kenya.

DEEP is a research and development programme investigating the use of new information and communications technology (ICT) for teaching and learning. It works in schools serving disadvantaged communities in different parts of the world.

Executive Summary for DEEP IMPACT: an investigation of the use of information and communication technologies for teacher education in the global south - Education Paper 58 is available here.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Gardens For Life

"Gardens for Life brings together students from across three continents in an exciting project to enable them to share their experiences of gardening. Not only is their curriculum enriched, but students are gaining a better understanding of global issues."

"The pilot schools in the UK, Kenya and India have all established gardens to grow food crops. In Kenya produce from the gardens is used to provide meals for school children, providing a vital component in their diet as sometimes this is the main meal that they get during the day. Food security is enhanced as these gardens are able to supply a regular supply of food. Any surplus provides profits for the school when it is sold to the local community where it is much appreciated. Students can see that viable businesses can be based on horticulture. Links with the local community are being strengthened as knowledge and experiences between the students and farmers is shared."

For more read about it on the EdenProject website or on Hands On or watch a video about it.

Other related links:
Global Dimension Trust which links 75 schools in Kenya, India and the UK using 'Gardens for Life' and the 'Share to Learn' programme. For information on Kenyan partners see here. School linking seems to be supported through the British Council Global Gateway.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Mobile for Good

"Mobile for Good (M4G) is a social franchise project designed to use mobile phone technology to help alleviate poverty and improve the lives of people in the developing world. It delivers vital health, employment and community content via SMS on mobile phones in order to inform and empower disadvantaged individuals and help bridge the ‘digital divide’ – the widening technology gulf which exists between rich and poor countries.
The pilot project in Kenya has proved to be a great success since it began in September 2003. Originally funded by Vodafone Group Foundation, the project has successfully evolved into a self-sustainable Kenyan owned and managed venture. The project, initially known as OKN Mobile and part of the local content initiative Open Knowledge Network, is now the first franchise under Mobile for Good."

Short videos about Open Knowledge Network here


A few sites with vaccination recommendations

US Gov. Centre for Disease Control & Prevention
NHS Fit for Travel

Kenyan Visas, Permits, etc

For more info follow the links:

Visa applications from the UK

Application to conduct research

List of Kenya's Embassies

Using SMS to Support In-service Teacher Training in Sub Saharan Africa

Yesterday, I heard someone say how SMS text messaging was being used in Kenya for in-service Teacher Training. Sounds interesting so I 'Googled' to find out a bit more. So far:

Anyone know more about this?

National ICT Strategy for Education and Training

"The Ministry of Education has developed a National ICT Strategy for Education and Training. This Strategy is a comprehensive roadmap has been developed through a stakeholder mobilization from the public sector, private sector, civil society and development partners and spearheaded by the Kenya ICT Trust Fund to guide the Education sector in the adoption and use of appropriate ICT technologies."

See The National ICT Strategy for Education and Training or The Strategy.pdf

Related links:

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Kenya Development Gateway

"Kenya has many home grown initiatives that take advantage of the Internet and which help to eliminate space and time in accessing information. The purpose of the Kenya Development Gateway is to empower stakeholders to use Internet as an accessible and cost effective tool for productive purposes through e-government, e-commerce, e-education, knowledge sharing, virtual communities, and so on. To achieve this, there is need to: identify, mobilize, organize and complement existing efforts; create development and business related content and services from local and other sources; and to encourage the formation of new off-line partnerships."

Kenya Development Gateway

Monday, October 09, 2006

Kenya pilots handheld education

From BBC Report: "... a trial project using handheld computers could help reduce the costs of education in poor communities... Mbita Point, on the eastern shores of Lake Victoria, hosts a small rural community. A few minutes walk from the main town lies the local primary school, housed on the campus of a renowned research institute.

As the only school in the area with access to electricity, Mbita Primary enjoys a relatively privileged location. This aside, it suffers from the same problems encountered by other public schools. Classrooms are crowded, and the all-too-familiar scenario of children sharing outdated textbooks is still very much in evidence.

However, in Class Five, things are just a little bit different. Fifty-four 11-year-old students are willing guinea pigs in an extraordinary experiment aimed at using technology to deliver education across the continent. In the Eduvision pilot project, textbooks are out, customised Pocket PCs, referred to as e-slates, are very much in.

They are wi-fi enabled and run on licence-free open source software to keep costs down. "The e-slates contain all the sorts of information you'd find in a textbook and a lot more," said Eduvision co-founder Maciej Sudra.

- BBC Report
- Eduvision

Friday, October 06, 2006

Maragwa - Sharing knowledge to strengthen food security

"Farmer Jane Kirambia knows that there is a strong link between food security and seed security. Maragwa, in Tharaka district, seems the most unlikely place to meet someone who shares titbits of information on the role of conservation of indigenous crop varieties and uses ..." Read more at Practical Action Case Study - Farmer's Report

Maragwa Schools

On graduates Schools and Graduates

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Possible Sites - Questions

Is there any communications infrastructure in the site, details?
What is the size of the site including any farms, where are the communications access points?
Is the site flat, hilly etc, details?

What are the current literacy and numeracy levels in the population?
How many teachers work in the area and how recently and to what level are they trained?
Do teachers/trainers have ICT experience and/or training?
Is there any existing ICT? If so, what type?

Please add more questions...

And if you have answers for any site add comments to the posts for that site.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Kenya Travel Links

The Kenyan High Commision UK website

The Fairview Hotel Nairobi

Magical Kenya "The Official Kenya Destination Website"
Tourism Kenya

Possible Sites

  1. Kibirigwi or Kagio (Kirinyaga) **
    • ** 150 km
    • Tomatoes for local market French beans for export
    • 3 years in exploiting new varieties of French beans

  2. Gutheria or Ruthagati or Mbiriri (Kieni East)
    • 200 km
    • Snow peas for export
    • 3 years in exploiting new varieties of snow peas and agronomic management

  3. Naromoro (2 sites)
    • 230 km
    • Snow peas for export
    • 5 years in exploiting new varieties of snow peas and agronomic management

  4. Maragwa
    • 60 km
    • Sweet bananas for local and export markets
    • 4-5 years in exploiting tissue culture banana varieties

  5. Kibwezi (Makueni) **
    • 240 km
    • Range of horticultural products
    • 2-3 years advising on agronomic management

  6. Butula, Teso, Bukura (Western)
    • 350 km
    • Indigenous vegetables
    • 3-4 years advising on varieties and agronomic management

  7. Ndaragua **
    • 250 km
    • Local vegetables
    • Advising on control of nematodes using Methyl Bromide