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Famine forces pupils out of the classroom

By Nehemiah Okwembah | September 20th 2021

Girl fetching water from a well in Ganze, Kilifi County. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

More than 60 per cent of pupils of Karimani Primary School in Bamba Ward, Ganze in Kilifi County have dropped out of school because of the drought ravaging parts of the Coast region.

The school’s headteacher, Christopher Sadi, said the number of pupils has gone down from 250 to 100.

At Mkondoni Primary School in neighbouring Malindi Sub-County, the situation is no different.

Esther Kahindi, the headteacher at Mkondoni Primary School, claimed there were several cases where children fainted during lessons because of hunger.  

“I have had to allow most of my pupils complaining of hunger and being weak to stay away from school,” she said.

The headmaster called for the introduction of school feeding programmes.

Statistics from the Kenya Red Cross Society indicate that at least 200,000 residents are in dire need of food relief and water in the county. Most water pans and small dams have all dried up.

Teachers, parents, and other education stakeholders said the drought in various parts of Kilifi is now a threat to education as learners stay away from schools due to a lack of food and water.

Rodgers Kombe, a resident of Karimani village in Bamba, said the learners affected the most were those who trek for long distances to schools.   

It has not rained in parts of Kilifi for the last two years. “Women and children are the most affected with many children skipping school to help their mothers look for food and fetch water several kilometres from their homes,” he said.

Ms Taab Karisa said she is forced to walk for more than 20 kilometres to get water because the nearby reservoirs have dried up. “We wake up at 4:30 am to search for water,” she said.

Other reports indicate that in Ganze Sub-County, two people have died because of starvation.

“It is a worrying situation for us since we are very willing to allow our children to attend school but hunger cannot allow us. They have to skip school and help us find food for the family,” said Safari Karisa, a resident of Mkondoni.

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