West Pokot Students Avoid Schools Due to Hunger
West Pokot County schools report increased absences among students due to hunger.
The situation is deteriorating, with some schools facing closure because hundreds of students refuse to go because their families lack food.
The most afflicted sub-counties are North Pokot and Central Pokot, with headteachers urging for immediate action.
The issue became more problematic after the World Food Programme (WFP) discontinued meals deliveries to schools, preventing more than 50,000 students from receiving food under the usual school lunch program.
In 2018, the Kenyan government legally took over WFP’s obligation for supplying meals to 1.6 million schoolchildren across the country’s arid and semi-arid regions.
WFP, on the other hand, is focusing on nutrition challenges in the country.
West Pokot County National Drought Management Coordinator Mike Kimithi stated that food has not been delivered to schools since September 2022.
Only a few pupils had returned to Chepsepin and Shonken primary schools in North Pokot this term.
Evans Kuyaa, the headmaster of Chepsepin, stated that most students only come to school if they are promised a meal.
“As soon as the food rations dry up, the pupils vanish. I have only 24 of the school’s 274 pupils,” said Mr Kuyaa.
He encouraged the government to send emergency meals to schools as soon as possible.
He stated that children from certain families trek more than 30 kilometers in search of water rather than attending school.
“Last week, a child collapsed while at assembly because of hunger. The child collapsed because he had not eaten the whole week,” Mr Kuyaa said, adding that it had not rained for some time in the area.
“The prolonged drought led to crop failure. The maize withered and farmers did not harvest anything,” he said.
Shonken headteacher Geoffrey Plilan claims that enrolment has plummeted by half due to a lack of food.
He explained that the figure had dropped dramatically from 110 to 51.
Ms. Jane Cheptoo, an Ombolion-area parent, claims that the government’s refusal to give food to schools has resulted in a significant decline in the number of children attending courses.
Ms. Cheptoo explained that children along the border go to school when there is food. They prefer to stay home if they don’t have food.
Stephen Achula, the Education Director for Pokot North Sub-County, revealed to Nation.Africa that pupils were not eating enough, which had resulted in lower attendance.
The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) staff in the region, according to Kacheliba MP Titus Lotee, is not telling the truth about the drought situation in West Pokot.