Schools closure means children go without food

When not trekking for kilometres looking for water for livestock, children beg for food and water by the roadside. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Young children stand by the road with containers, their hands stretched to stop vehicles along the Marigat-Chemolingot road in Baringo County. From a distance, the children of school-going age appear like potential travellers as besides them are bags of charcoal.

A closer look will, however, reveal otherwise. They are not travelling but are here to beg for water from motorists as they wait for charcoal buyers. The heat from the sun is unforgiving and temperatures rise to a high of as 37 degrees.

Not far from the road is an adult watching over them. They appear invisible and only appear when a motorist stops.

The adult, only, comes to collect money from the sale of charcoal, and goes back to sit under the shade.

With the closure of schools, children have been forced to take up roles of their parents, they not only search for water for domestic use but also herd livestock.

Ms Emily Kigei of Silale Ward in Tiaty said that their children have to assist in family labour.

Children, she said trek with their parents up to 20 kilometres in search of water carrying containers as they drive cattle to watering points mostly around boreholes.

“We have stayed for three months without water. We trek 20 km in search of the precious commodity. Our children have to join us in the search of water,” she said.

After schools were closed, the children are having it rough because back in school, there were daily meals.

“The school feeding program was vital but now they are at home, they have nothing to eat. We have nothing to offer,” Ms Kigei says adding its food that kept the learners in schools.

At Akwichatis village, school-going children have joined their parents in digging holes along riverbeds in search of water. The children have mastered the art of digging and seem to enjoy it.

Mr Losilimo Domogong said the children have been of great help digging holes in river beds from as early as 7am. “This is what we depend on for our livestock and also back at home. Our children have really assisted us,” he said.

Mr Hassan Lomuyoteba said a nearby borehole could not satisfy their demand for water forcing them to dig holes in the dry riverbed.

The solar-powered water pump cannot supply enough as only four panels were connected. Ms Dorothy Kamoiono said life is becoming unbearable and called on the government to supply them with food and water at least once a week.