Congratulations to the Arid Lands Information Network on winning the $1 million Access to Learning Award
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation presented its 2011 Access to Learning Award of $1 million to the Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), which provides knowledge and information through a variety of innovative channels in remote communities throughout Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. Microsoft, a partner of the foundation in its efforts to help public libraries connect people with relevant technology and skills, will provide ALIN with a donation of over US$270,000 worth of software and technology training curriculum to help the organization serve the local community.
ALIN’s 12 Knowledge Centers – known as Maarifa Centers – focus on providing practical information, particularly in the area of agricultural development. The vast majority of people in these regions are small-scale farmers who need information about issues such as drought, pests, and finding markets for their crops. The centers offer information geared toward the communities’ specific needs.
Maarifa Centers also address health issues such as HIV/AIDS and malaria, ways to improve people’s daily lives such as how to create an energy efficient biogas stove, and administrative requirements such as applying for an official identity card or getting tax exempt status. Some people have used the centers to create groups for the disabled, earn advanced degrees online, or create thriving small businesses.
In Uganda’s northern regions, Maarifa Centers employ Inveneo High-Performance Computing Stations installed by CLS Limited, an Inveneo Certified ICT Partner, to to help community members gain information to improve their health, increase their incomes, and better their lives.