U.S. Government and Kenya National Library Services Initiative Brings Cutting-Edge Design and Innovation Resource to Public Libraries

For Immediate Release

Thursday, March 2, 2017
Nadine Sunderland, Development Outreach and Communications, Kenya and East Africa
+254 715 516 324 or NSunderland@usaid.gov

Kenyan entrepreneurs, innovators, and knowledge-seekers are set to benefit from a new resource – the Human-Centered Design (HCD) Toolkit – now available in public libraries thanks to an initiative between the Feed the Future Kenya Innovation Engine program, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Kenya National Library Services (KNLS) with the support of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and the Arts. The Toolkit, which uses creative approaches to problem solving by putting people at the center when designing solutions, will provide users with relevant, cutting-edge expertise to enhance their global competitiveness.

Developed by the international design firm IDEO.org, the HCD Toolkit is a resource on the human-centered design approach which has already been used to improve outcomes in several sectors in Kenya including health, water and sanitation, and agribusiness. By helping users to understand their target markets and beneficiaries, the HCD Toolkit enables entrepreneurs, innovators, and development workers to understand community needs and then design and implement viable, financially sustainable solutions to meet these needs.

“This toolkit will no doubt enrich our library collection and has come at a time when Kenyans are increasingly seeking more information on how they can sustainably grow their enterprises and meet international standards in delivery of services,” KNLS CEO and Director Mr. Richard Atuti told the audience.

“Kenyan farmers, particularly young and so-called digital farmers, are no exception. They are avid information-seekers, actively pursuing knowledge on how they can increase farm yields and earnings from their sales,” Mr. Atuti said. 

USAID, through its Kenya Innovation Engine (KIE) program, has provided expertise on human-centered design to help innovators understand farmers’ needs, and design and market appropriate technologies that meet those needs.

“In 22 counties, our Kenya Innovation Engine program has reached almost 100,000 farmers, and more than 66,000 of those farmers have adopted new technologies for better livelihoods. The 24 agricultural innovations implemented as a result of this program has led to the creation of almost 3,000 jobs, which will lift people out of poverty and set them on the path to economic prosperity,” said USAID Office of Economic Growth Chief Mr. Mark Carrato.

Ministry of Culture, Sports and the Arts Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario, expressed support for the initiative saying, “With increased commercialization of the agricultural sector and competition in globally-liberalized markets, libraries are aware of the need to introduce specialized services that provide access to appropriate information and technology.”

Mr. Carrato and KIE Chief-of-Party, Ms. Titianne Donde-Ommes, presented 150 copies of the HCD Toolkit to Cabinet Secretary Wario and Mr. Atuti at an event held at the KNLS Kisumu County branch. KNLS will disseminate the publication in print as well as digital format through eResource Centers established in its 61 branch libraries countrywide.



Feed the Future Kenya Innovation Engine (KIE) is a five-year program funded by USAID and implemented by Land O’Lakes International Development in partnership with Dalberg Global Development Advisors and IDEO.org. KIE is a mechanism through which innovative private sector-oriented strategies that enhance food security and nutrition, and increase rural household incomes are proactively identified, incubated and scaled up for widespread impact.

IDEO.org is a non-profit organization born out of the global design and innovation firm IDEO in 2011. IDEO.org is dedicated to applying Human-Centered Design to alleviate poverty through partnerships with social enterprises, non-profit organizations and foundations to directly address the needs of the poor in areas such as agriculture, financial inclusion, gender equity, health as well as water and sanitation. As part of the coaching and mentoring the Kenya Innovation Engine, the program is employing IDEO.org’s world-renowned HCD framework to assist award recipients in refining their innovative product/service offerings to better satisfy end-user requirements.