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When Google finds more than the Governor’s Site itself

Many times it is better to search for documents using external search engines like google rather than internal search functions within a website. If you efficently use web search engines like google, you find more information relating to a topic than just what is published on the website.

See how by looking at one example:A follow-up story about a planned milk processing plant in Baringo County, that we found in the Baringo County Integrated Development Plan Baringo County Integrated Development Plan 2013-2017

A Try at the Baringo County Website

We searched for “milk processing” using the built-in search function on Baringo County government (ext. link) website. We only found three results; a press release and two speeches in which the governor has mentioned the milk processing plant.


But we do not find the term listed in any pdf document, even though the CIDP is in fact to be found here (ext. link) on the government site.


Why the limited result? The county government has most probably not granted access to documents searched through their website. Let us not assume they want to hide official documents. They probably only thought the public relations within speeches and their press releases was more important. Which is unsatisfying for a journalist searching for primary sources.

Check the same keyword using Google

Just open and type into the search field:


The command “site:” immediately followed by the web address effectuates a google search on that website only, and nowhere else. And the quotation marks around “milk processing” effectuate a search for the exact same term with the two words following each other directly.

The result of this search unearthes – besides the three other pages we already know – two official documents as pdf-files. Namely the already mentioned CIDP (ext. link) and – congratulations – the Budget of Baringo County for 2016/2017 (ext. link) in its programme based version, the last result in this screen shot:


We have uploaded that budget file to to secure it for further scrutiny: Baringo-County-PBB-FY-2016-2017-as-Submittted-to-the-County-Assembly1. (It seems to be the proposed budget. If you use this as a source you must check whether it was approved in this version by the county).

Now CTRL-F the milk!

If you open the document and search using these techniques  you will see that the word “milk” shows up 9 times in the whole document (meaning we do not have to further refine the search). The first hit already shows information which his Excellency the Governor of Baringo County did not mention in any of his speeches: which is, that the EU is partly funding the milk processing:

(click to enlarge).


According to the running budget, the plant will cost the county 8 million KSh plus 5.5 million matching funds from the European Union. Whis is 13.5 million in all. See page 3 of the Budget.


(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)


And on page 232 of the program based budget (remember, you jump to it just by CTL-F –  type “milk” and click “next”), in the list we see more details: “Support farmers on construction of a county milk processing plant.” Which is already something different. It does not sound like the county was actually building the dairy plant.

The second last step – a general google search (ext. link)  for the terms “milk processing plant” “baringo”- leads to even more questions. Besides information that the local journalist from Baringo already knows: That in a ground breaking ceremony the project of the milk processing plant was officially started by the governor on July 8, 2016, and as usual that was an occasion for political speeches.

The article on the ktn television’s page (ext. link, as of Aug. 12, 2016 – now offline) talks about a “handing over a cheque of six million shillings for the purchase of land in Eldama Ravine for construction of a sh200 million milk processing plant. He called on farmers’ cooperative societies in Baringo county to join hands with county government to raise funds to ensure the project is completed. Baringo governor Benjamin Cheboi who was also at the function said the county government will contribute sh20 million towards the project which will boost milk production.” As you can see, these numbers are different than those on the budget. And the EU as a donor is not mentioned.

Let us look for more primary sources i.e. more budget papers.

Some additional search on the Baringo county website, this time by clicking through the download section, results in even more contradicting numbers. There we find the Approved Budget (not project based) – external link / internal: BARINGO_COUNTY_APPROVED_BUDGET_2016_2017. On page 292 this budget document lists the milk processing plant with a cost of 10 million in the financial year 2016/17.

If you do not find anything more specific by scrolling through the results of the general google search (ext. link)  the web search is done.

After a web and document search that may last only one or two hours many good questions for a follow-up backgrounder are open, among others:

  • total costs of the plant and what they are comprising
  • sources for the finances
  • contradicting numbers from the two different budgets
  • governor’s speech and cheque
  • use of the money (just for the land?), who is actually building it and who will eventually own it in the end
  • when can farmers expect the plant to be opened
  • Not to mention the symbolic 20 million Shillings cheque the governor handed over on July 8 to the BAMSCOS farmer cooperative umbrella organization (external facebook link). These money must cover more than the costs of the milk plant in that financial year. Because the governor is not allowed to spend money outside of the budget.

Conclusion: In many cases, only a combined file search complemented by interviews can paint the whole picture. But the questions should be compared with the what was found on the files.

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