Information access and livelihood improvement: the case of youth using Pala Community Knowledge Centre
Community Knowledge Centres provide access to information to rural people through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). Access and utilisation of information plays a fundamental role in improving people's well being. However, improvement in one's well being is dependent on the utilisation of the information that is accessed. The Kenyan National ICT Policy promulgated in 2006 aimed at increasing access to ICTs to all Kenyans. This goal was partly to be achieved through establishing Community Knowledge Centres (CKCs) in the rural areas. Few rural areas have such centres, Pala is one example. This study has interrogated the effects of information access from Pala Community Knowledge Centre on the livelihoods of the youth. The findings are based on data collected in Pala through field survey of 60 randomly selected youths using the Centre and through in-depth interviews with four beneficiaries of the Centre and sixteen youths not using the Centre. Two key informants were also interviewed. The study established that majority of the youths who accessed and utilised different types of information such as agricultural, market, skil1 development, health, employment and government information had improved livelihoods. Indicators such as increased production, increased food security, increased income, increased savings and assets, were used to measure improvement in youths' livelihoods. Furthermore, there were youths who had not accessed the Centre but benefited indirectly through those who had access. The latter group benefited from the spill-over effects of new technologies. In order to enhance exploitation of existing potential and further improve livelihoods at the community, the study recommends that the staff at the Centre should be proactive in gathering different types of information that the community needs such as information on agriculture, markets, health, government and skill development and store the same in the Centre's data base so that it is readily accessible to the users. In addition more support staff should be deployed at the Centre in order to ease pressure on the existing staff.
University of Nairobi, Kenya