The Lake Turkana Wind Power company (LTWP) is funding a two-month emergency school feeding programme in aid of pupils in public primary schools in Laisamis constituency of Marsabit County worth Sh 12.8 million.
The programme will benefit 13,000 primary school pupils in 60 primary schools across the constituency that is hard hit by prolonged drought by providing a meal per day to enable them complete the remaining part of the 2021/2022 academic year.
Speaking during the launch of the emergency intervention in Loiyangalani area, LTWP Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Phylip Leferink said the gesture was in response to the government’s declaration of the drought situation as a national disaster.
Referink added that the programme was also part of the company’s continued support and empowerment to the local pastoralist communities who have played a great role to the success of the wind power project.
The CEO pointed out that the constituency had suffered rain failure for two consecutive rainy seasons, a situation that has been worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic rapidly rising humanitarian needs in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) County.
Referink noted that livestock was the sole source of the residents ‘livelihood which was no longer yielding any production or income making it difficult for schools to secure food to feed children.
“That is why we have found it appropriate to make this intervention at this time,” he said adding “We will provide sufficient food to feed each primary school pupil daily in all the sixty primary schools located in Laisamis constituency.”
Families in the region were in constant migration in search of water and pasture causing many children to drop out of school which makes the programme important and timely for the continuity of the pupils’ education.
According to LTWP community liaison manager Job Lengoiyap the food consignment comprises 134.3 tons of maize, 35.9 tons of beans , 4,400 liters of cooking oil and 1,130 kilograms of salt and is expected to last two months.
Mr Lengoiyap added that the drought assistance programme by the clean energy producing firm began with the provision of water to communities around the wind farm.
He said they focused on primary schools where most children are vulnerable with many either malnourished or stunted because of lack of access to nutritious food at their tender age.
Marsabit County Commissioner Mr Paul Rotich in a message delivered by Loiyangalani DCC Steven Mavana termed the response as compassionate and called on more organizations to join hands to cushion those affected by drought.
Rotich said natural disasters occasioned by climate change required collaborative approach adding that the move by LTWP would go a long way in bolstering resilience among the locals.
County Director of Education Apollo Apuko said that schools were the backbone for the good future of the communities affected by adverse weather conditions and asked NGOs, corporations and the well-wishers in society to support the effort in easing the continuing food insecurity affecting communities.
He said the intervention by LTWP would go a long way in complementing the Ministry of Education’s school meals initiative.
The LTWP is among the biggest wind power projects in the world with a production of 310 megawatts of electricity which accounts for 17 per cent of the total energy supply in the country.
Through its Winds of Change Foundation (WoC) the firm also undertakes sustainable community development projects within its operation area.
Under WoC, the wind firm has funded and supervised 52 socio-economic dimensional projects that have accelerated development and transformed lives of residents not only through employment but also in the education and health sectors.
These include building and equipping dispensaries, improvement of schools through the building of classrooms, laboratories, dormitories and administration blocks and drilling of boreholes.
The emergency relief programme saw a two-day sustained distribution exercise with the Lake Turkana Wind power company CEO bringing in two planes to oversee the exercise that took the teams to South Horr, Kargi, Mt. Kulal, Korr, Namarei, Sunyai and Oibor areas.
The distribution reached Laisamis, Merille, Loiyangalani, Moite, Arapal and Sarima areas.
By Sebastian Miriti