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Insecurity fuels early pregnancies and school dropout in Baringo

EDUCATION
By Kipsang Joseph | May 18th 2016

Insecurity in Baringo County has impacted negatively on vulnerable groups including school children, the elderly and people living with disabilities.

This came out yesterday during an open forum for residents with Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) officials. KNCHR is undertaking an inquest into injustices meted out to victims of cattle rustling in the North Rift.

The victims of cattle rustling from the Tugen community in Yatia, Baringo North constituency whose property was stolen, relatives killed and livestock stolen said the education sector in the area has been heavily affected over the years.

"Cases of early unwanted pregnancies are now very common among school going girls in this area. As a result, many have dropped out of school due to the perennial cattle rustling," said Thomas Kiburet, the head teacher of Yatia Primary School.

He added: "In every school in the area at least five girls have dropped out of the school due to early pregnancy. Many children also lost their lives and others are still sick due to the rise of influenza diseases, pneumonia, malaria, tuberculosis and other communicable diseases due temporary migration."

Kiburet further informed the KNCHR commissioners that the full blown inter-tribal conflict in 2012 occurred during school holidays and school children aged between 13 and 14 were involved in the raids. He further noted that school boys were dropping out of school to become herders and caretakers of their family livestock.

"In many schools, cases of malnutrition especially among Standard One, Two and Three pupils are on the rise due to lack of food. Many people lost their livestock to cattle rustlers and farmers were unable to cultivate their farms," added Kiburet.

Yatia location Chief Jackson Keittany appealed to the national government to beef up security in the area and initiate peace talks among the warring communities.

Last week, the commission was in Marigat in Baringo South where 50 witnesses drawn from Ilchamus and Endorois communities testified. Most accused the national government of not doing enough to end cattle rustling in the area.

cultural practices

"We realised during the inquiry that boundary dispute among the communities, land conflict, political interference are the main causes of this conflict," said George Morara, the commission's vice chair.

"The general sense is that people largely want peace, but there could be those ones who are still driven by the elements of old cultural practices that encourages cattle rustling but largely the number of people we have spoken to really want to move away from those old practices," added Morara.

He also noted that the existence of illegal firearms among locals is a major contributor to the conflict.

Morara said residents want the Government to take full responsibility and protect them.

"This cattle rustling is no longer a traditional thing. Initially, people used to carry clubs, arrows and spears but guns are not a traditional thing really. They have been imported to this region and other parts of the country and they are wreaking a lot of havoc on the livelihoods of the people," said Morara.

The KNCHR commissioners were led by Shakhtika Chivusia who was assisted by Morara and Jedidah Wakonyo. Ms Chivusia said that KNCHR will engage all communities involved in the conflict, and then advice the Government on the appropriate measures that need to be taken to ensure respect and promotion of human rights in the region.

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