Access and Use of Information by Rural Communities in Arid and Semi-arid Lands (ASALs) of Kenya: the Case of Maarifa Centres

Catherine W. CHEGE, Joseph, KIPLANG’AT, Daniel Chebutuk, ROTICH


Telecentres are community knowledge centres that offer shared access to information and Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) for the benefit of community development in alleviation of poverty. This article presents a case study that explored the extent to which rural communities in ASALs region of Kenya access and use information from the Maarifa centres (MC). The objective was to examine access and use pattern of information by ASAL communities benefiting from the MC. Using a multiple case study, 80 respondents drawn from five Maarifa centres were interviewed. The respondents were users of the respective Maarifa centres. The Maarifa centres selected  were namely; Nguruman MC in Magadi, Mutomo MC in Kitui, Isinya MC in Kajiado, Ng’arua MC in Laikipia and Sipili MC in Baringo. Further, five focus group discussions were conducted with the respondents. Key informants interviewed included, Director of Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN); Programme Coordinators of Maarifa centres; Officers of the Communication Authority of Kenya and the ICT board of Kenya.  Major findings indicate that rural communities appreciate Maarifa centres as a source of information. The respondents valued Maarifa centres as intermediaries for accessing information for socio-economic development. The biggest achievement is the use of Sokopepe, an online knowledge management platform which can be accessed through computers or the mobile phone. The challenges that hinder effective access and use of information are mainly infrastructural which slow down information uptake and internet access. The study revealed that Maarifa centres have addressed most of the community’s information needs of government information through access to e-government services; e-commerce, agricultural development and knowledge creation, resulting in improved livelihoods. Provision of these services was possible through collaboration of the government ministries and agencies, development partners, funding agencies and community participation.

Keywords: Telecentres, Information access, Knowledge management, ASALs

DOI: 10.7176/IKM/10-5-04

Publication date:August 31st 2020

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5758 ISSN (Online)2224-896X

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