Nyeri Senator Wahome Wamatinga has called upon all elected leaders from the county to pool together in providing relief food to school-going children in 70 public schools in drought-hit areas.
Wamatinga who was launching a school feeding programme in Nyakinyua Primary School warned the deteriorating effects of the ongoing drought among pupils from poor families can longer be ignored and urgent measures are needed to ensure such children do not drop out of school.
He cited Kieni, Mathira West and Mukurwe-ini sub counties as some of the worst affected areas in the county that are in dire need of urgent relief food and urged all elected leaders including Governor Mutahi Kahiga to pool resources together to address the situation.
“We are living in a critical time in this country coming on hot on the heels of the Covid 19 pandemic and worsened by a weakened economy that has made the drought situation worse for many families. Many of our children in some of the badly hit areas such as Kieni,Mathira West and Mukurwe-ini are literally going to school on empty stomachs. We need to come together as leaders and offer the little each one can afford to alleviate the situation and in the process ensure these children continue with their learning uninterrupted,” said Wamatinga.
He also called upon Kahiga to allocate part of the Sh200 million he promised to set aside for the Elimu Bursary during his inaugural speech early to help cater for a comprehensive school feeding program.
Wamatinga said such funds will complement any other assistance well-wishers would pool towards the kitty that targets 70 public schools before the end of the year.
During his speech at the Nyeri County Assembly on October 5 this year, Kahiga promised to increase the amount of money earmarked for bursary from Sh160 million to Sh200 million.
This, said the second term governor, will help to cater for the increasing demand for vulnerable and needy cases.
The Senator also said he believes the impasse surrounding the NGF-CDF that was deemed illegal by the apex court will one day be resolved to enhance measures in tackling emerging challenges such as hunger among Kenyans.
“We do hope the matter surrounding the National Government Constituency Fund will be resolved as it had a five percent allocation that catered for emergencies such as what we are experiencing in this country. Once this issue is settled, I will request our legislators to be setting some funds in supporting feeding programs in our public schools in the event we face a similar crisis like the one we face at the moment,” he told the media.
Kenya is facing one of her worst food crises in decades following four consecutive failed rain seasons. This situation has pushed more than 4 million Kenyans to the brink of a humanitarian crisis with hundreds of animals already reported to have died in the Northern Frontier counties.
Already the Government has kicked off the process of distributing relief food to the affected counties even as some leaders urge Dr. Ruto to declare the current drought a national disaster.
World Food Programme Representative and Country Director for Kenya Lauren Landis in a statement to mark this year’s World Food Day said the international community is solidly behind the country in providing relief help to starving communities including scaling up food distribution.
She has nevertheless called for a shift in alternative food rearing mechanisms including adoption of drought resistant crops able to withstand the adverse effects of global climatic changes.
“Humanitarian assistance alone will never be enough in Kenya’s increasingly dry and drought-prone climate. The key to better nutrition lies in profound agricultural shifts, such as adoption of drought-tolerant crops and water-efficient farming techniques; production of more nutritious crops like high-iron beans; improving postharvest storage; enhancing processing; reducing food losses; improving food safety; and establishing better connections to markets.
By Samuel Maina