Community Resource Centre Bridging the Information Gap
Information is widely recognized as a key ingredient towards attainment of sustainable development. The availability of relevant and appropriate information and its application especially in rural communities continues to be a key challenge. The high levels of poverty and lack of exposure means that whole communities may not fully exploit their available resources thus not being able to fully attain their potential.
One organization in western Kenya is trying to encourage communities to take charge of their destiny. This is being done through provision of appropriate information and technologies.
History and background
Ugunja Community Resource Centre (UCRC), a community based non governmental organization located in Ugunja Division -Siaya District of Nyanza province Western Kenya is one of the few NGOs headquartered in a rural part of Kenya. UCRC, coordinates many innovative activities in collaboration with local communities, community based organizations as well as national and international NGOs.
Founded in 1988 in Siaya District of western Kenya, UCRC was initially established to provide the local community with access to information and to develop a range of programs for alleviating poverty within the region.
In 1997, UCRC registered as a Community Based Organization (CBO) and in 2004 was registered under section 10 of the Non Government Organizations (NGO) Act and is fully registered with the NGO council. UCRC acts as an umbrella organization for more than 60 local community groups including women, children, youth, farmers and people with disabilities.
UCRC works towards a community where people - women, men, youth, children, people with disabilities, people living positively with HIV/AIDS - are empowered. We strive to empower communities by providing them with access to useful skills and knowledge, and by encouraging unity amongst community groups.
We sincerely believe in our motto "A working community" and theme "Local action is beautiful" and do our best to bring these words to life through our many activities.
Management and staffing
The organization is staffed mainly by committed local and international volunteers, and coordinates programs in areas of sustainable Agriculture and environment, community health, social integration and rehabilitation, children, youth and women empowerment.
UCRC collaborates with groups and other development partners that share a commitment to alleviate poverty, increase food security, provide income generating opportunities and ensure continued sustainable development.
The UCRC strives to enhance social and economic sustainable development through the empowerment of participating members.
The Centre presently has two programmes which are headed by Program Officers and these are:
- Adaptive Research and Information Technology
- Advocacy and Networking
The Adaptive Research and Information Technology manages projects on Sustainable Agriculture, Environment, Community Reference Library, Computer training (Unlimited Potential in conjunction with Microsoft), Multi media training, GIS training.
The sustainable agricultural and environment project coordinates activities that aim at providing right and timely information on agricultural and environmental issues. The key words here are “food security” and “practices that preserve the environment” The project bulks and distributes selected seed that are drought and low fertility soil tolerant to farmers such as orange fleshed sweet potatoes, ground nuts as well as indigenous vegetables. The centre’s community reference library which has and continued to be a key area of the organization is widely used by the community to access information on various issues.
The information technology department on the other hand runs a basic IT literacy training programme in partnership with Microsoft Corporation. Dubbed Unlimited Potential the programme commenced in 2006 and by November, some 4000 community members had each successfully completed a two month basic IT literacy course. Other training programmes conducted in this department include one conducted in conjunction with Computer for Schools Kenya which also trains community members in computer literacy. The multimedia section offers training and services on issues such as video coverage, editing, GIS among others.
TheHuman Resource Management and administration is responsible for general administration and financial management of the centre and also coordinates . This department is responsible for recruitment of staff and volunteers and generally ensures that all administrative issues are well taken care of.
Advocacy and networking runs projects on Youth and OVCs, Peace Building, Community Learning Resource Centres, Disaster Management, Women and Disability.
The Youth segment of the Youth, women and OVCs project, concerns itself with issues relating to empowerment of youth and youth groups in the area through trainings, workshops and also by organizing various events which enable the youth to realize their full potential. The project also encourages the youth to take an active part in all socio-economic activities in the area. The OVC component of the project offers psych social support, games and sports as well as tuition to orphans and other vulnerable children in Ugunja Town and its environs. Last year the OVC project worked with at least 70 orphans and vulnerable children.
Peace Building as a project aims at advocating for a community which lives without fear of intimidation or violence, be it oral or physical. The project advocates for Active Non Violence (ANV) as a sure way of attaining universal peace. UCRC is part of the Peace and Development Network (PEACENET-KENYA) and coordinates peace issues in Nyanza region on behalf of the network. Community Policing is an activity that is presently also being coordinated by UCRC in Central Ugenya Location and Ugunja sub location in West Uholo location. Community Policing is a multisectoral way of tackling crime and entails a mutual understanding between the community and the police where the community takes a lead role in addressing their own security through fre flow of information on crime and crime suspects.
The centre also has other affiliated projects. These were projects that UCRC initially facilitated their establishment but with time, have become autonomous, though we still share ideas and assist whenever possible.
These include the St. Paul’s Health Centre in Mundindi village, Nyasanda Community High School, St. Paul’s Early Childhood Development Centre and Nyasanda Technical Institute.
Siaya SEED SACCO - SEED has encouraged the community members to save money by having well structured financial products which are friendly to the very low income earner. Other than savings, SEED also runs an asset finance scheme for members which enables them to acquire various assets thus raising their respective incomes and living standards.