By John Majau

A section of Meru County is experiencing an increase in the number of school dropouts following drought that has continued to ravage areas of Tigania, Igembe and Buuri regions.

Speaking to the media, the Director of Education in Meru County Ms Elizabeth Otieno, noted that while there are no official statistics to confirm cases of school dropouts, absenteeism has been reported in most schools especially from areas occupied by nomadic communities.

“There are sections of Meru that have been affected by drought and this has increased absenteeism,” said the director.

The education official further noted that discussions were ongoing with all stakeholders to assess ways to avert the crisis and ensure consistency of the learners.

“We have sought government interventions that will ensure provision of water in schools and initiate feeding programmes that will reduce absenteeism,” she added

Tigania West MP Dr Kanyuthia Mutunga admitted that in various schools in the arid areas, children had been missing school at a higher rate than before due to hunger.

“Where there is a school feeding programme, children are showing up. However, schools without food are recording absenteeism as children cannot concentrate on empty stomachs,” he noted

Mutunga said that various sub-counties in Meru with the exception of Isiolo have been left out in the Sh.2 billion relief fund allocated to fight drought.

In a desperate but belated effort to mitigate challenges brought about by the drought, Mwerokanga village sub-chief Samuel Igweta urged residents to avoid selling their grain soon after harvesting.

“The drought may prolong and it is unwise to sell dry foods at such times. I encourage people to only sell when necessary and save the rest,” he pleaded.

Residents in the neighbouring sub-counties of Isiolo have also called on the county government to provide them with drought-hardy crops that will enable them fight persistent drought.

“Since it rains once or twice in these regions, it is impossible to practice farming with normal seedlings. Therefore, we call on the county government to provide heat resistant seedlings that survive the hot climate,” said one resident.

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