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From time to time TWL will publish condensed versions of certain articles submitted to the Editor. In this way a greater number of discussions and investigations will be presented to readers of the journal than would otherwise be possible.Research Summary: 2. Information Infrastructures in Two Kenyan Development Plans
Over 85 percent of the inhabitants of Kenya are rural dwellers, and most of them persons are non–literate. Rural society is typically without basic skills, and bound to tribal norms passed on by oral tradition. Information needs exist, and information is available to meet those needs, but it does not often reach those who require it. Improvement in economic and educational conditions of rural dwellers depends on the dissemination to them of information relating to literacy and education, government policy, economic matters, environmental factors, planning and management skills, population control, crops and livestock, and health and sanitation. These needs have been addressed in two consecutive five–year plans of the government.
Development Plan 1984/1988 spelled out clearly that the responsibility for rural development belonged to local district authorities. District development committees were charged with establishment and maintenance of DDICs: District Documentation and Information Centres. The first DDICs were set up by 1987, and there are now six of them in operation. A DDIC is the information arm of the local planning agency, as well as of other units and individuals who are involved in rural planning.
In the subsequent Development Plan 1989/1993 there was further attention :o information and data communication systems as a primary tool for development planning. This concept involves government support for computerization and training of computer personnel. A communication infrastructure, including DDICs and management information systems throughout the government agencies, is intended to provide speedy and accurate handling of information that is wanted for planning and decision making. The government recognizes the role of libraries as links in the infrastructure, and continues support of the Kenya National Library Service . Related units include the National Council for Science and Technology, which operates the Kenya National Scientific Information Documentation and Communication Centre (KENSIDOC).
These entities need to cooperate in a way that will enhance the flow of information to the countryside. DDICs require varied support from central government agencies. For example statistics, maps, and guidance in cataloguing should be provided. DDICs should make information widely available in the rural districts. They need to collect and organise oral information as well as printed sources. By creating and maintaining these interactions — between central government and districts, between DDICs and the rural end users — it is possible that the “poverty of information in the midst of plenty” will ultimately be overcome.
Gundu Shibanda is Senior Assistant Librarian, Moi University, Eldoret, Kenya. He has an M.L.S. from Loughborough University of Technology, U.K.
© 1993 Gundu Shibanda.
Shibanda, Gundu. “ Research Summary: Information Infrastructures in Two Kenyan Development Plans” World Libraries, Volume 4, Number 1 (Fall 1993).