Death beckons in Kenyan town

July 27, 2009 12:00 am

, LAIKIPIA, Kenya, Jul 27 – For the past decade, Laikipia region has been known for the numerous cases of insecurity.   

Such cases are no more; at least for the last one month. Things have now shifted from crime to hunger.   

The death of hundreds of livestock due to lack of pasture and malnutrition among human beings has overtaken all the reported cases of insecurity.   

It is in Laikipia West district where at least two people and thousands of livestock are reported to have died in the last three weeks. Hundreds of families have gone for months without proper diet leaving innocent children and the elderly at the mercy of their Creator.

This has been as a result of the prolonged drought which has hit most parts of the country.   

Unlike in the past where elders from different communities had to meet to resolve their tribal differences, the case is now different as the natural calamity has now brought the enemies together to look for ways of fighting hunger.

They have now resolved all their tribal differences and await the rains to come. For once, the warring communities have united in search of food for their children, pasture and water for their herds.

The latest deaths include that of Lucy Mumbi, 80 and Kuria wa Mathinji aged 65. The two died at their Muthengera village, a few kilometres from Nyahururu town.

The deceased’s according to the villagers in the region popularly known as Kang’a had survived for several weeks without proper meals. All what they relied on was porridge.

A Kenya Red Cross volunteer George Githaiga who was taking care of the two malnourished senior citizens said they died after the porridge flour went out of stock.

“I was left with nothing else to do since I had run out of the porridge stock that had been supplied by our organisation,” Mr Githaiga told Capital News.

He notes that several other persons in the larger Laikipia region faced starvation and were at risk of succumbing to hunger.

“The children and the elderly are the worst affected by hunger since the young and energetic are relying on wild fruits which they look for in the now drying forests,” he said.

The Kenya Red Cross Society has put the number of families affected by hunger at 40,000.

According to the society’s central regional manager Dorcas Wanjiru Ngure, the number is likely to rise as the drought bites.

Ms Wanjiru says that more and more families are relying on one meal per day since they could not afford more.

“The families are relying on maize which the organisation has managed to supply to them. This is all what the young and the old are eating as they await more relief supplies from well-wishers,” she said.

Learning in most of the primary and secondary schools has also been affected as the children drop out of school.   

In the last three months, the situation was has now been reversed as most of the children jammed learning institutions where they were provided with free lunch.

Today, the situation has reversed as even the institutions have run out of food.

Laikipia Kenya National Union of Teachers Executive (KNUT) Secretary Mureithi Kamanja says that an estimated 1,000 children in the region have dropped out of school as a result.

“The children have instead resulted to looking after their cattle or searching for wild fruits to earn a living. Most of them have moved together with their livestock to areas where there are minimal rains,” he says.

Mr Kamanja noted schools in Ol-Moran, Sipili and Rumuruti divisions as the most affected by the shortage of children.

He pointed out Survey, Laikipia Ranching, Ol-Mutunyi primary schools in Ol-Moran division as the ones which have received minimal class attendance.

Others include Muguongo, Machunguru, Mategithi, Churo and Island primary schools in Rumuruti division.   

He says that some schools are now having as few as twenty pupils.

“It is even becoming difficult for the teachers to teach forcing the children to learn from a single classroom,” he adds.

Thousands of livestock have since been moved to the neighbouring districts such as Nyandarua North and West districts. 

Former Nyandarua North DC Hassan Farah who has now been promoted to North Eastern Deputy Provincial Commissioner puts the number of the livestock which have been moved to the district at over 20,000.

He says that most of these have been moved to the upper parts of Aberdare forests where there is adequate water and pasture.   

As the prolonged drought continues to bite in the country, residents of Laikipia are now waiting to hear who will be the next to die, and or who will come to their rescue.


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