oa Inkanyiso - Information services provided by Maarifa Telecentres to rural communities in ASALs in Kenya - research

Volume 11 Number 1
  • ISSN : 2077-2815



Telecentres are established to provide information, to bridge the information and digital gap, foster development and confront the requirements of the poverty stricken in remote and isolated rural areas in developing nations. The purpose of this study was to explore information services provided by two Maarifa centres to rural communities in arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) in Kenya. The specific objective was to establish the information needs of ASAL communities served by Maarifa centres; to explore information services provided by Maarifa centres to ASAL communities; to analyse the challenges and prospects of Maarifa centres in the provision of information to rural communities in Kenya and to make recommendations for the improvement of information services to ASALs communities in Kenya. The study employed a multiple case study research design as an overall strategy and drew upon multiple data sources to develop a triangulation of methods. Qualitative research was administered as a predominant approach. Data was gathered through interviews from a sample of 20 respondents from each Maarifa centre: Isinya in Kajiado and Ng’arua in Laikipia counties. In addition, two focus group discussions were administered with the respondents of the two Maarifa centres. Key informants included directors and programme coordinators of Maarifa centres and government agencies who provide infrastructural support to the telecentre project. This study was informed by the Department for International Development’s (DFID’s) theoretical framework namely: the ‘Sustainable Livelihoods Approach’ (SLA) framework. The findings of this study suggest that Maarifa centres are points of Arid Lands Information Networks (ALINs) engagement with communities living in ASALs. People appreciate Maarifa centres as places to access information, acquire ICT skills, and improve livelihood activities such as agriculture and businesses and for social communication. The challenges are mainly infrastructural such as poor connectivity and Internet access. This study revealed that Maarifa centres have solved most of the community’s information related challenges through egovernment services, e-commerce and agricultural development and knowledge creation, resulting in improved livelihoods. The study contributes to knowledge because it adopts a community-centred approach that focuses on the views of users of Maarifa centres.

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