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Learners in Meru drop out of school as h**ger pangs continue to bite

Thursday, September 1st, 2022 06:00 | By
Learners drop out of school due to hunger as most institutions shall miss the feeding programme. PD/file

The ongoing countrywide drought has hit lower parts of Meru with hundreds of school going children dropping out of school due to hunger.

National Drought Management Authority report, learning has greatly suffered in the semi-arid areas of Igembe Central, Igembe South, Igembe North, Tigania East, Tigania West and Buuri sub-county.

Schools in the affected areas also reported a decrease in enrolment for both boys and girls in the current term in all three levels of education.

Assistant Director, Drought Information Officer, Lolokote Sainyugu, says the decline in enrollment and retention of learners, specifically Early Childhood Education, has been attributed to stoppage of Uji programme in over 95 per cent of schools.

Currently, food availability in learning institutions is minimal since there are no ongoing active feeding programmes unlike other times in which Expanded School Meal Programme and Community Support in School Meal Programme was practised.

Food and nutrition insecurity in the area has been due to cumulative effects of below normal rainfall in three consecutive seasons, which include the long and short rains of 2021 and long rains in 2022.

Water sources

“Other drives of food security include insecurity and human-wildlife conflict where in some places of Buuri constituency and some parts of Igembe North elephants destroyed crops,” he said.

Sainyugu also maintained that the cost of water is above normal in the agro-pastoral livelihood zones such as Kachiuru, Kamweline, Kilera, Nginyo and Kithetu in Igembe North sub-county whereby vendors are selling water at Sh50 per 20 litre jerrycan due to drying up of surface water sources.

Sainyugu also noted that livestock production has drastically dropped due to the current low contribution of crop residues since the crops dried up early in the season and had not formed adequate dry matter.

“Due to the situation, some livestock keepers are forced to sell their animals so as to meet food requirements at home,” he said, adding that others have gone to an extent of encroaching Meru National Park so as to get pasture for their livestock.

Sainyugu has since called upon both county and National government to intervene, especially in the drought alarming areas like Kachiuru, Kamweline and Kithetu in Igembe North by constructing more dams and introducing school feeding programmes to sustain learners in school.

-KNA

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