Kenya

10 schools face closure in Baringo as drought bites

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By WYCLIFF KIPSANG

More than 10 primary schools in Baringo North Sub-County risk closure due to lack of food and water.

This follows the persistent dry spell in the area which has also led to the drying up of major water sources.

A spot check by Nation.co.ke Thursday at Bartabwa, Saimo-Soi, and Barwessa wards revealed that many schools were grappling with low turnouts as many parents have moved with their children to other areas in search of water and pasture for their livestock.

Some of the schools worst hit include Chepkewel, Moinonin, Loruk, Ng’aratuko, Kosile, Kagir, Yatia and Kamenjo.

At Kagir Primary School in Saimo-Soi ward, there are only 131 pupils down from 229 in 2013 after some pupils failed to report this term due to hunger.

The school head teacher Petro Chirchir told Nation.co.ke that although the school was under the government’s school feeding programme its resources were now over stretched to the limit.

CHILDREN FLOCK SCHOOL

“Children from neighbouring villages flock the school during lunch time as they have no food in their homes and this has affected our ratio.

We risk closing in a week’s time if the situation continues like this.

The only borehole we have is no longer in use after its solar panels were stolen by armed bandits,” Mr Chirchir said.

The school had been closed for the first term in 2013 following rampant cases of insecurity in the area which resulted in the killing of one pupil.

The armed bandits also broke into the school’s store and staffroom and made away with books and foodstuffs.

The situation is not different at Tuluk Boarding Primary School in Bartabwa ward with a population of 360 pupils whose parents cannot afford the boarding fees.

“Many parents have been requesting that I pay their children’s school fees until the situation improves. Surely, even if I’m under a salary, can I pay for more than 100 pupils?” posed the school’s head teacher Zachayo Cherutich.

RELIEF FOOD

Baringo North Sub-County Commissioner Joshua Ogango said that his office has already received 3,000 bags of maize and 1,500 bags of beans which will be distributed to the hunger-stricken locals with the help of the county government.

“The food may not be sufficient for all the people in need but priority will be given to the most vulnerable including the elderly and children,” Mr Ogango said.

WORST DROUGHT

“Unlike other years, this year’s drought is the worst as it has even affected highlands which were initially food secure,” the administrator told Nation.co.ke on phone.

Mr Ogango added that part of the relief food will also be channelled to schools which are yet to be enrolled in the school feeding programme.

Baringo North MP William Cheptumo has already called on the government to declare hunger ravaging many parts of the country a national disaster.

“The government should put in place measures to cope with the looming food shortage.

Almost all parts of the country including the grain baskets in Rift Valley have been affected by the dry spell.

Many farmers had planted their farms but all the crops have withered,” Mr Cheptumo told Nation.co.ke.