More than ten schools remain closed in troubled Baringo South

Some of the families who have fled their homes in the cattle rustling prone areas in Baringo South sub-county sleep on the crowded classroom at Sokotei primary school in Mukutani division of Baringo County.[PHOTO: KIBIWOTT KOROSS/STANDARD]

More than 2,000 children from more than 10 primary schools and a secondary school in Baringo South are out of school, due to persistent cattle raids.

The schools remain closed and villages de?serted as raiders make the area inhabitable. So bad is the situation that classrooms have been vandalised and some converted into cattle bomas for stolen animals.

Kapindasum and Arabal, which used to have about 600 pupils, Kasiela, Ngalecha, Nosukuro and Rugus have been closed. Tuyotich Secondary School was also closed early this week.

Kapindasum Primary School has been vandalised while classrooms in Rugus and Ngalecha have been converted to cattle bomas.

Baringo County Commissioner Peter Okwanyo said six primary schools have been completely closed while the rest are operating partially. Kapindasum, Chemoronyony and Arabal primary schools were closed this term due to insecurity. There have been bandit attacks which forced the parents to flee with their children. But Rugus, Nosukuro and Ngalecha have remained closed since 2005 and the raiders have converted the classrooms to cattle bomas,” he said on telephone.

Tuiyotich, Kapkechir and Lamaywe primary schools closed this week following Monday’s bandit attacks. Area MP Grace Kipchoim accused the government of not doing enough to protect residents and children thirsty for education.

And with reports of food shortage and persistent drought in most parts of the country, the situation could worsen as raiders will be forced to move into deeper parts of the constituency in search of water and pasture for their animals.

Already more than 13,000 residents of Arabal, Kapindasum, Rugus, Mukutani, Sirata and Kiserian displaced by raiders are in dire need of food. The situation could be worse by the end of the year since many residents could fail to plant their farms.

“The situation is so bad and I am shocked by the silence by the government authorities. As we speak, there are raids going on. I have just received information that they have raided another village,” Ms Kipchoim said.

Okwanyo confirmed the raids in Chemoronyong, but was quick to add that security had been intensified.

The motive of the raiders, suspected to be from neighbouring Tiaty, has not been established but there are talk it is related to territorial expansion, owing to reports of possible mineral find in the area. The Pokots occupy Tiaty while Baringo South is predominantly occupied by Ilchamus.

Well armed

The raiders are well armed and often overpower security officers even the dreaded General Service Unit (GSU).

The raids have always been linked to competition for pasture between the two communities but the scale of attacks has disapproved this since the bandits have taken over all available grazing fields and water points but still strike.

“If it was about pasture then there should have been no more fighting since all grazing fields are in the hands of bandits. The government should find the root cause. We should be advised on where to move our people then,”  the MP said.

Baringo County Director of Education Daniel Mosbei said majority of pupils had been absorbed in nearby primary schools.

“We have been following up with the provincial administration to ensure children from affected schools are continuing with their education.”

Okwanyo said security officers have been posted to affected schools and asked parents to take back their children. He said police patrols will also be intensified.