Teachers Demanded an Expanded School Feeding program As Draught Persist.
Teachers have demanded an expanded school feeding program to ensure that children remain in school during a drought.
According to the Kenya Women Teachers Association (KEWOTA), many children only attend school since it is the only location where they are guaranteed a meal.
Kewota CEO Benta Opande stated that the needs in most parts of the country are dire and that the government should engage with other stakeholders to ascertain precisely where the need resides.
Lydia Kaburugo, a member of the teachers’ association, reiterated her comments, noting the importance of addressing major concerns affecting these schools and children.
According to Governor Jeremiah Lomorukai of Turkana, the extreme drought has affected ECDE enrolment.
Lomorukai stated that children in ECDE centers desperately need emergency food assistance.
He lamented that the Turkana drought had reached an alarming level, affecting roughly 800,000 residents.
“Enrollment in ECDE centre is pegged on availability of food which means with the drought so severe and affecting nearly the entire county, learning has been affected,” Lomurkai said.
Lomorukai spoke on Monday when he met with a National Early Childhood Executive Committee delegation in the Lodwar county seat.
He stated that the malnutrition rate is on the rise, with Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) in Turkana exceeding 34%.
The committee is touring the county to study the impact of drought on Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE) in Kakuma Refugee Camp and Kalobeyei Settlement.
Lomorukai encouraged the committee to assess schools in the host community to assess the extent of the drought’s impact on the education sector.
More than 800,000 people out of a population of 1.5 million have been affected by the drought. ” A quarter of this number is in dire need of help and we need help for ongoing drought emergency relief efforts by the county,” he said.
Lomorukai informed the committee of his plans to acquire additional food, with Sh300 million earmarked for emergency reaction.
He stated that the drought in Turkana was severe and asked the national government, development partners, and other humanitarian organizations for assistance.
He stated that the county’s emergency response was ongoing in various parts of Turkana and pledged to visit the hardest-hit regions to coordinate operations.
The team included members from the Ministry of Education, the Council of Governments, and Unicef.
The governor appreciated Unicef’s support in the sector and for child protection programs.
Valary Akinyi, chair of the Committee on Education of the Council of Governors, stated that the visit was part of the COG’s effort to assist counties in enhancing their capacity for basic education.
She stated that the current drought had impacted education delivery, and the team was eager to collect data on its extent.
“Education has to continue despite the drought and that COG will work closely with counties to boost service delivery under counties’ mandate on education and in other critical sectors,” she said.
She stated that the team would brief the county on the findings from the field visits.
In the meeting, it was announced that Turkana would host the National ECD Stakeholders’ Conference in July of the following year.
Francis Kidake, the officer in charge of UNICEF Lodwar, stated that the organization’s focus was on the ECDE sector and that efforts would be made to guarantee that both host and refugee children received assistance.
He praised Turkana for being one of the counties with an ECDE policy.
He pledged to collaborate with the county and other organizations to minimize the vulnerability of schoolchildren during drought.
Health professionals in Turkana County are alarmed by the rising number of children suffering from malnutrition and, specifically wasting.
Wasting is the most acute, observable, and life-threatening form of malnutrition, and it is caused by the inability to prevent malnutrition in the most vulnerable children.
Dr. Joseph Epem, chief executive officer of Lodwar County and Referral Hospital, warned that if partners and well-wishers do not prioritize an expanded humanitarian response, the impact of the drought on vulnerable families will increase.
The draught, according to Dr. Epem, has also devastated pregnant women.
“At [Lodwar Referral] we have 157 children aged under five who are severely malnourished and 197 with moderate acute malnutrition currently on treatment. We also have 324 expectant mothers with moderate malnutrition on treatment,” he said.
If the major hospital was registering such a large number of patients, he explained, malnutrition levels had reached the crucial stage of wasting, particularly among children under the age of five.
“Those treated and discharged are not accessing food after two months and the same cases relapse. All we need is a multi-sectoral approach so that we reduce the relapse from the village back to the hospital,” Dr. Epem said.
He said that discharging children to the same environment where they didn’t have enough food implies they will be malnourished again.
Dr. Epem advised that malnutrition be handled with targeted food distribution as authorities strive for sustainable living for certain households.
He suggested that widespread supplementary feeding programs be implemented, with cases detected in villages and their severity prevented.
Ms. Rose Namongo, a nutrition officer, reported that some moms whose children are malnourished abuse alcohol and drugs and stop bringing their children to the hospital for treatment.
“Some just decide to sell the food supplements for malnourished children or share it as a meal for the whole family,” Ms Namongo said.
Treatment and prevention
She stated that prevention and treatment of wasting should be emphasized.
She provided the example of a very malnourished girl living with her impoverished grandma after her irresponsible mother abandoned her, stating that such exceptional circumstances should be discovered and assisted.
According to the USAID Imarisha Jamii organization, nomads in border regions were migrating to Uganda, Sudan, and Ethiopia.
The organization has increased health and nutrition outreach, education, and guidance for community health volunteers.
Turkana Governor Jeremiah Lomorukai said malnutrition levels were rising.
“There is a need for urgent intervention from all stakeholders because … the prevalence rates of Global Acute Malnutrition for the worst-hit sub-counties are Turkana East 40 percent, Loima 39 percent and Turkana North 38 percent,” he said.