Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP) Company has launched a two-month emergency primary schools feeding programme in Laisamis constituency of Marsabit County as a complement to the government effort in the fight against hunger in the country.
The firm released food rations worth Sh 17 million that would guarantee 17,700 pupils in the constituency have a lunch meal per day for the remaining part of this year’s term and January, 2023.
Speaking when he officiated the launch of the programme Thursday, Marsabit County Commissioner Mr Paul Rotich said the gesture would ensure pupils in the targeted 67 primary schools went on with learning uninterrupted to the conclusion of this year school calendar.
Rotich also seized the opportunity to advise local parents against withdrawing their sons from school to practice moranism which by extension is linked to the livestock rustling menace in the region.
Instead, he asked them to take their children to school now that both the government and partners were in support of the endeavour.
He directed chiefs to work diligently and ensure that all children of school age are enrolled to school without exception and not to be entrusted with household chores that rob them chance for a bright future.
The CC underlined the need for result oriented mechanisms to counter climate change which he blamed for the severe drought and famine that afflicts many local households.
In his remarks, LTWP Site Manager Felix Rottmann said that it was as a result of the prolonged drought that has disrupted sources of livelihood for the local pastoralist communities that the firm which made a similar support in January this year had decided to continue with the programme.
“We are aware that the country is experiencing a prolonged drought situation and LTWP has decided to continue this programme as part of our continued commitment to support and empower local communities across Laisamis Constituency,” he noted.
Rottman added that the drought has made it difficult for schools to secure food to feed children a situation that has been made worse by the nomadic nature of local communities who are nomads and have to migrate in search of water and pasture for their livestock
As a result, 34 per cent of children in Laisamis constituency are reported to have dropped out of school.
Rottmann, said that the programme was important for the continuity of the pupils’ education adding that the previous Emergency Food Relief Programme in which the firm spent Sh 12. 8 million in support of 13,000 pupils in 60 public primary schools was meaningful and successful.
“We are thus happy to partner with the schools’ managements again, especially after seeing that the number of pupils have increased from 13,000 to 17,700,” said the site manager adding that LTWP through the programme will provide sufficient food to feed each pupil daily across the 67 primary schools.
The drought situation in Marsabit County is dire and the initiative would greatly bolster the government effort to ward off starvation and save lives.
LTWP community Liaison Manager Mr. Job Lengoiyap said the food donation comprised 124 tons of maize, 33 tons of beans, 3,730 liters of cooking oil and 1,480 kg of salt which would be distributed directly to the schools by the company.
Lengoiyap pointed out that the amount of food donated might not be enough and appealed to more organisations to join hands to cushion local communities affected by the drought.
“We are calling on corporate organisations and individuals to collaborate towards alleviating the chronic food insecurity challenge affecting communities, especially schools, which are the backbone of our future generation,” he said.
Through its Winds of Change Foundation (WoC), the firm also undertakes sustainable community development projects within its operation area of influence.
Under WoC, the wind firm has funded and supervised 52 socio-economic dimensional projects at an approximate cost of Sh 320 million 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 administrative blocks and drilling of boreholes.
According to a joint statement by the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) Humanitarian Network, the ASAL region of Kenya, which includes Laisamis Constituency, has endured three severe droughts in the last decade (2010-2011, 2016-2017, and 2020-2022).
The current drought has been the most severe and longest with extensive livelihood losses and huge displacement of populations.
By Sebastian Miriti