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East Africa Famine: schools become more than places to learn

East Africa Famine: schools become more than places to learn

In cooperation with the local community and schools, SOS Children's Villages Kenya is handing out food in five villages of Marsabit. An extraordinary situation calls for extraordinary measures, and therefore the children are going to school in August in spite of their summer holiday.

Joseph Otieno Kajwang, Family Strengthening Programme Coordinator for SOS Children's Villages Kenya tells us more:

"During the months of May and June we got reports that the children in Marsabit were beginning to drop out of school because of the drought. This led us to start the first part of our emergency aid. We provided 20 tonnes of food, which has now been distributed to the local schools. Normally the children are on holiday during the month of August, but they have come back in, because there's food to get.

The local officials and teachers have agreed to open the schools even in the summer period and in the past weeks we have been giving out food, even on weekends. Getting the food here is not easy. Trucks are moving all over Kenya with aid supplies and we had to wait for a couple of days to get transportation. On the road you need government security to protect the load.

Now the children have come back to school and we counted 3,153 children who have received food in five villages. But giving the children food is not enough. We also need to help the parents. As it is right now, we have been giving water to both the schools and the local communities, but we want to expand the aid to also providing needy families with food. The families have already been identified, and we expect to be able to give out food vouchers within two weeks to about 2,000 families with an average family size of eight members.

In order to make the delivery as easy as possible, which also leads to a reduction of transportation costs, we are working with local food stores. We are setting up a system where the families get a card that they can take to the store and get supplies. The card can be compared with a credit card, where you can get a certain amount of food each week. The card has the identification number of the person on it, and then you get the food by showing the national identification card. Two family members are authorized to use the card just in case one is away or sick.

The supplies consist of maize, rice, beans, oil, porridge flour and sugar and are in accordance with the World Health Organization daily requirements, and it is only possible to get these portions on the card. This way we make sure that the right food gets to the right person. Our team will also monitor the food distribution.

When the cards are ready we will hand them out at a community meeting in order to ensure transparency. The community elders have been part of the team identifying which families should get the food aid. Child-headed households and extremely vulnerable families are given priority."

How you can help

You can make a one-off donation directly to our Emergency Relief Programme in East Africa or take out a child sponsorship to help us to focus on the long-term welfare of children who have no one to care for them as a result of the famine.