Starving kids die after eating wild herbs

July 29, 2011 9:18 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 29 – Two sisters aged three and four years died on Thursday night at Linjoka village in Igembe North, Meru after they consumed a meal believed to have been poisonous.

According to Igembe North acting District Commissioner Macharia Njinu the bodies of the two children were discovered on Friday morning in their house.

“The children who come from a hunger stricken family ate a meal that is suspected to have been prepared using wild herbs,” he said.

He said three other children were admitted to hospital together with their grandmother after they got sick.

They were said to have gone hungry for sometime after which they settled on eating the dangerous herbs.

“The granny reportedly harvested a species of beans known in Kimeru language as ‘mpumpu’ from her shamba which she cooked together with some wild vegetables and Irish potatoes for dinner,” he said.

Police collected samples of the remains of the meal to be sent to the government chemist for analysis.

The incident is the third reported case of food poisoning this month in Igembe after a one year-old girl died earlier after eating a meal made of unknown green vegetables.

On July 12, a three-year-old girl collapsed and died at a village near the Meru National Park in Igembe south after taking tea suspected to have been contaminated.

According to the acting District Commissioner part of Igembe North and South districts are facing acute drought which has forced many residents to depend on wild herbs for food.

Residents from Meru North told Capital News that the area has gone without rainfall for many months and many people were facing starvation.

“All the food we planted dried before it even grew. We thought it would rain but the rain was too little and all the plants dried up, so many people are not moving to other areas looking for food,” said James Mwiti, a farmer from Laare.

“We have to look for water, we are using a lot of money which is not enough to transport water, the water is even dirty, our children are sick almost all the time, let the government please do something before we all die,” begged Janet Kaaria, a mother of six.

The reports of biting famine in Igembe North and South Constituencies come at a time when the government has denied knowledge of citizens dying of hunger in the country.

Government Spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua on Thursday said the government had no reports indicating that Kenyans had died of hunger.

“So far, the government does not have an official report of a Kenyan that has died as a result of the hunger. We are asking anybody who has information of a confirmed death due to starvation to let us know,” he said.

The government has estimated that 3.5 million people are facing starvation and Turkana – which is the most affected area -has recorded alarming high levels of malnutrition.

To respond to the food crisis in the country, Kenyans have taken it among themselves to contribute to feed the hungry through the ‘Kenyans4Kenya’ campaign.


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