Drought in West Pokot, Turkana Counitns pushes learners out of schools

Drought in West Pokot and Turkana counties has forced pupils to drop out of school as pastoralists move to Uganda.

Kacheliba MP Mark Lomunokol yesterday said residents had been forced to migrate to the neighbouring country in search of pasture and water for their livestock.

“Last year, there was total crop failure in my region and my people are now suffering. The drought in the region is bad and I call upon the national and county governments to help,” said Mr Lomunokol.

He thanked the Ugandan Government for allowing the pastoralists to graze their animals in Amudat, Nakapiripirit, Kwen, Moroto and Nabilatuk districts.

“Since peace prevailed along the border, most of our herders have been allowed to cross over to the neighbouring country to access pasture and water,” the MP said.

Lomunokol asked the herders to obey the grazing rules set by Ugandan authorities so as to continue feeding and watering their livestock until the rainy season starts.

He, however, expressed fear that more learners would drop out of schools unless measures were taken to provide them with food.

“Pupils in the lower classes are the most affected because they cannot walk long distance to school on an empty stomach."

He also warned that cases of malnutrition would increase unless children below five years were given food supplements.

Lodwar Mixed Primary School head teacher James Akoyo said the availability of free food was the main reason children attended school.

Priscilla Ayanae, a resident, said learners who had run away from school were now languishing in the streets of Lodwar town.

Lokichoggio MCA Bethuel Kobongin noted that most of the school children had been forced to follow their parents in their search for water and pasture for their livestock.

Security concerns

Meanwhile, teachers in schools along the volatile Turkana-West Pokot border have urged the national government to beef up security in the region to facilitate learning.

Many schools re-opened on Monday after the half-term break amid concerns about the security of the learners and their teachers.

Some of the teachers who spoke to The Standard in Kitale said they were worried about their safety due to persistent fighting between the two communities in the area.

"We are headed back to school but we fear for our safety. We want the Government to beef up security in our institutions to protect us from bandit attacks," said a teacher at a secondary school in Turkana South who declined to be named.

At the same time, transporters between Kitale and Lodwar towns asked the Government to provide them with armed escort, to stave off bandit attacks.