Kenya: Reaching thousands of children with food and education

12 June, 2012
May 2012: Students at Meto Primary School receiving a nutritious lunch of maize and beans during the school feeding programme. Credit: OCHA
May 2012: Students at Meto Primary School receiving a nutritious lunch of maize and beans during the school feeding programme. Credit: OCHA

At the height of the drought in Kenya last year, when an estimated 3.8 million people needed food assistance, World Vision International (WVI) launched a school feeding programme to reach the children hardest hit by the crisis in the Kajiado region, southwestern Kenya.  

An allocation of US$150,000 from the OCHA-managed Emergency Response Fund (ERF) helped WVI reach more than 6,000 children in 14 schools across the arid region, which is located in Kenya’s Rift Valley. Eighty per cent of Kenya’s land is arid and semi-arid and more than 10 million people, many of them pastoralists, live on this land. 
 
The six-month programme has been providing children with nutritious lunches filled with maize and beans to supplement the primarily meat-based diet of Masaai pastoralist communities. It has also been distributing 16,000 litres of water through each school per month to make sure that families have enough water to drink, cook and clean with.  
 
“We couldn’t have done this without the funding which was timely and had a great impact in helping the children who often returned home to find no food,” said WVI Programme Manager Frank Meme during a recent joint OCHA/WVI assessment mission to Kajiado. 
 
The free meals have not only helped fight food insecurity, they have also kept many of the children in school in a region where school enrolment and attendance have generally been poor. Children often stay home to help their families with chores such as collecting wood, water and herding the livestock.    
 
WVI says that although the project is temporary and is due to end soon, it will have a long-term impact. Many of the schools involved have begun to find their own solutions to the food crisis through small-scale farming. The Meto Primary School, for example, has begun planting its own maize and the Enaroo Lukuny School is planning to set up an orchard and raise poultry. World Vision is also working with the students’ parents to find sustainable solutions to protecting their lands and livestock during the dry season.  
 
Reporting by OCHA/ Eastern Africa