Kenya

Two schools shut as pupils look for food

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Two schools have been closed as 400,000 people urgently need relief food in North Rift due to crop failure.

Learning could not go on at Seruben and Pokochon primary schools in Masol, West Pokot County, since most of the children migrated with their parents in search of food.

Sigor MP Philip Rotino yesterday asked the government to declare the famine that has hit most pastoral communities in the region a national disaster and hasten distribution of relief supplies.

“School enrolment is likely to drop further as more parents and their children leave their homes in search of food,” said Mr Rotino.

“We are focusing on schools as we distribute the relief food but the supplies are inadequate,” said West Pokot county commissioner Peter Okwanyo. He said 50,000 people in the county were in urgent need of relief supplies, adding that most crops had withered due to a prolonged drought.

“We have received only 1,500 bags of maize, 600 bags of beans and 150 cartons of cooking fat yet there is a high number of people facing an acute shortage of food,” said Mr Okwanyo. Most herdsmen, especially in Pokot North, have migrated with their animals to Uganda in search of pasture and water.

At the same time, more than 300,000 people in Baringo County need food relief, with seven said to have died of hunger-related illnesses in Tiaty sub-county in the past one month.

Speaking when Devolution principal secretary John Konchellah toured the area to assess the impact of the dry spell, Baringo County leaders, led by deputy governor Mathew Tuitoek, said there had been total crop failure.

“The county government is supporting the central government in the distribution of relief food by providing fuel for the vehicles. We are also supplying water to the hunger-stricken residents using bowsers. Part of the food will be given to schools to retain children,” said Mr Tuitoek.