SR article

EK Centre Mfangano Island


Quite similar to the Pavilions in Okana there is another community centre established close to Kisumu. Located on Mfangano Island the Ekiola Kiona centre combines a health care centre with a research centre. Since the EK centre is already quite established, it is very interesting to have a look at how they manage to stay self-sustaining and how their business model works. In this article firstly some general information on the EK centre will be given, followed by an analyses we have made after visiting this center ourselves. Finishing off with mentioning what aspects could be used for the Pavilions.

Mfangano Island is the largest island in lake Victoria. Secluded from the mainland it’s community is very tight knit. With its 26000 inhabitants this is quite impressive. The community is poverty stricken, but that doesn’t mean there are no opportunities. With its 16 primary schools and 8 secondary schools education is available for all. The communal spirit of the island is also seen in the volunteer Community Health Workers, making sure every household is linked to one of the remote clinics. But this isn’t enough. 30% of the island is infected by HIV and most clinics are on the mainland. This is one of the reason the NGO the Organic Health Response (OHR) was set up. This is the NGO behind the EK center. Located in the center they organize health programs and talk to fieldworkers. The EK center has been built by a team of local carpenters and construction workers together with volunteers. After the start in 2009 it took a total of three years to completely finish the center. The EK center provides various facilities:

  • Library; both national as international novels are available here. They can be read at the community center or members are allowed to take them home for a week.
  • A solar powered computer lab; a number of computers are available here as well as Wifi. The ICT room and library are monitored by one person. Keeping track of browsing, blocking certain websites, keeping track of the library and giving IT-courses are all part of his job description. The Wifi is beamed in from Kisumu and is also available to neighboring schools and the healthcare center.
  • Bike-repair shop; also part of the center is a bike-repair shop where for 1000 shilling a mountain bike can be rented to discover the island. Targeted are mostly tourists, since this is too much money for the local community.
  • Restaurant; providing food for the community and personnel of the EK centre.
  • Healthcare center; a research and data storage facility which is able to provide the secluded island of basic health care.
  • Lecture hall.
  • Organic farm.

Both library and computer lab are free to use to all residents, as long as they agree to get tested for HIV at the healthcare center. This will allow them to create a personalized membership card kept at the center. By agreeing to get tested every 3 months this membership can be extended. With its 2000 members it seems the community is willing to take these tests in order to make use of these facilities.

Since membership is not charged for, income has to be generated by the other facilities. Powering the computer lab with solar power reduces the electricity prices immensely. The restaurant and bike repair shop also contribute to the income of the centre. The main source of income comes via the health care center. By combining a resource center with a healthcare center the EK center is backed by several government health care funds. This allows the OHR to provide free membership to the community.

The Pavilions are very similar in the facilities they offer to the community. Being less secluded does take away the necessity of a health care center, since there are various dispensaries offering these facilities in the neighborhood. It therefore will not be eligible for these funds. Using solar power is a very viable option for the Pavilions. Also a membership to the Pavilions will not be free. This will hopefully cover the difference in income between the Pavilions and the Ekiola Kiona and make the Okana resource centre as successful in the long run.