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Merti Reports

The new born: Fulla Bekh It’argat

A new partnership between ALIN and Drought Management Initiative www.dmikenya.or.ke resulted in the birth of Merti Community Maarifa centre commonly called Fulla bekh it’argat in the local Borana language. Merti town is in Isiolo district of Eastern Kenya located about 240km from Isiolo town. The Drought Management Initiative (DMI) is a joint Government of Kenya/European Commission project aimed at improving capacities of drought management systems in Kenya. The project is implemented within the framework of the Arid Lands Resource Management Project (ALRMP II), under the Ministry of State for the Development of Northern Kenya and other Arid Lands.

The idea of establishing a maarifa centre was born by the Rangeland Users associations (RUA) a local community based organization in May 2009. After consultations, ALIN with the support of DMI established the Maarifa centre in November 2009 in close collaboration with Merti Integrated Development Programme (MIDP) who hosts the centre and local communities. 

Why Merti?

Merti division in Isiolo district was chosen as an ideal site for the Maarifa centre because it’s fairly remote and the pastoralists’ communities are very vulnerable to drought and other disasters. Information exchange infrastructure in Merti is non existent hence communities have no access to development information. It’s also known that pastoralists have a wealth of untapped innovative experiences and knowledge yet this is rarely shared among communities or even development agencies. The media agencies inadequately highlight any development initiatives instead choosing to focus on alarming issues like conflicts, cattle rusting, deaths etc.

The Merti Maarifa Centre offers a platform for information and knowledge sharing systems involving International, national and grassroots level communities. The centre is a hub for community documentation of local knowledge focusing on disaster management, indigenous early warning systems, livestock market information, environmental issues, capacity building on use of ICTs and much more. The centre is equipped with appropriate ICT tools that include:

Camcorders, digital camera, laptops, Ipods, VSAT for connectivity and a TV.

Community needs assessment

As a starting point, a baseline survey was undertaken to assess the Merti community’s sources of information and flow, info usage and communication systems within communities by different groups, factors that hinder info flows between the communities within and outside as well as with the larger outside world. The survey was also meant to analyse and gauge the community’s information needs. The survey results will be used as a benchmark when evaluating the project successes in future. Read the report ... (weka link). 

Empowering communities with appropriate skills

Ict and multimedia workshop

Film making and development

Info empowerment and networking workshop

Writing skills

Lessons learned