Taita Taveta Governor, Andrew Mwadime, Thursday flagged off 22 tonnes of porridge flour and sugar to 317 Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) centres throughout the county in a move that revives a feeding program to keep young and vulnerable pupils in classrooms.
The two trailer trucks flagged off from the county headquarters at Mwatate had sixteen tonnes of fortified porridge flour and six tonnes of sugar expected to reach over 12,000 ECDE pupils.
“We flag off these consignments with the hope that it can keep our young pupils in classrooms and give some relief to parents at home who are struggling to feed their children,” said Governor Mwadime.
Swirling dry winds, sweltering sun heat, and cloudless sky have been the dominant weather patterns in Taita Taveta County for the last six seasons.
In the wake of one of the most devastating droughts in Kenya, the county residents who mainly rely on rain-fed agriculture have been left devastated by massive crop failure and the resulting hunger.
“While the drought and hunger cuts across all social classes and age groups, it is the young and early education learners who are severely affected. We have seen high absenteeism records among ECDE pupils and we believe this program will see them come back to classes,” said Gloria Monikombo, County Executive Member of Education.
As per the data released by the National Drought Management Authority in January this year, more than 150,000 people in the county are facing starvation with 17,000 of those being children.
According to county nutritionist Pauline Mugo, the ongoing drought has seen a spike in malnutrition cases with more than 23 per cent of children under the age of five facing malnourishment and stunted growth.
While calling on the national government and partners to intensify food relief initiatives in worst-hit areas, the county chief officer for special programmes, Harrison Mwamkonu, pegged his hope on better March-May rains to ease food insecurity at the household level.
With heavy rains pounding Nairobi, Western, and several other regions; Taita Taveta residents are crossing their fingers for a bountiful rain season any time now.
By Arnold Linga Masila