North Imenti drought risk management committee has raised concerns over the number of malnourished children in the sub-county.
Addressing the media, the committee chair who is also the area Deputy County Commissioner Ms. Odilliah Ndeti said a total of 149 cases of malnourished children had been reported in various health facilities in the sub-county during the month of September.
Ndeti said out of these, 90 were severely malnourished while 59 were moderately malnourished, adding that 10 pregnant and lactating mothers were also under the ‘Lishe Bora’ programme at Meru Teaching and Referral Hospital.
“We are concerned that these are the reported cases alone. I am sure there are others yet to be reported which might even be more than this number,” said Ndeti.
She attributed the figure to the ongoing drought in the sub-county, especially after farmers from Giaki division, which is the region’s food basket experienced low harvest as a result of little rainfall during the last season.
As a result, she added, the cost of food in the market has gone high and many families cannot afford food that can offer the required nutritional value to their children.
“We also have cases of malnutrition in our informal settlements within the sub-county which include Majengo, Mjini, and Shauri where we have high levels of poverty,” said Ndeti.
She said their main worry is that the number is set to increase with the continuing drought in the region. She as a result called on well-wishers to intervene by donating food to the affected children who have already been identified.
“We are calling on the people who at least can afford foodstuffs to donate them to the affected families as we wait for the government’s intervention,” said Ndeti.
She added that those who would wish to donate foodstuff or even money to do so through her office or the Meru County special programmes department.
Giaki Division Assistant County Commissioner Ms. Betty Kinanda said almost 2000 households have been affected by the drought in the Division alone. She added that the situation has also led to cases of school dropouts as children join their parents in search of food.
“The river Kuuru that the residents have been depending on for irrigation is also drying up and as a result set a challenge to the farmers,” said Kinanda adding that the increased price of seeds is also a challenge to the farmers in the division.
By Dickson Mwiti