Your Impact: Emergency school meals for children in drought-hit Kenya

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The world is in the midst of a devastating hunger crisis. And it is taking a far greater toll on girls who usually have to take on a lot more responsibilities than boys.

But thanks to your support, Plan International is currently responding to ensure we reach those worst affected first, like 14-year-old Ramla in Kenya.

“Things have become tough and we need to support our parents whether we like it or not. As children, we spend a lot of time working, cutting trees for charcoal or fetching firewood to sell, instead of going to school. Our rights as children are being violated every day during the drought periods but we don’t have any say. School is not a priority at the moment.” Ramla explains.

“However, over the past month, things have changed a bit as the introduction of a school feeding programme by Plan International has brought many students back into school,”.

Plan International is responding to the crisis in five of the worst affected counties in Kenya, thanks to your support. We are distributing food parcels to those most in need and supporting school feeding programmes so that children have at least one nutritious meal at school each day and are encouraged to stay in school, where they are safe and can continue their education.

“Before the school feeding programme, we used to miss school to go fetch water and do manual jobs to earn a living. Those who stayed at school would go home during the lunch break and come back to school hungry because there was no food at home. This meant a lot of time was wasted going back and forth to school, which contributed to our poor exam performance,” says Ramla.

Girls enjoy their nutritious lunch at school
Girls enjoy their nutritious lunch at school

“The school feeding programme is helping curb absenteeism. From a class of 50 students, only 20 students or less were coming to school each day, but since the food came we have seen a tremendous increase in attendance. All the classes are full to the brim, some are even accommodating very young girls and boys who have not reached the age to attend school, but because of the harsh situation back home we are allowing them come to school with their older siblings so they can access food,” explains teacher Kaingu Kazungu, who is in charge of the feeding programme at his school.

“The school’s overall performance has also improved thanks to the feeding programme. Before the programme, we had an average exam score of 191 but now we are at 231 out of 500. This means we are doing the right thing and hopefully it will increase even more,” adds Mr Kazungu.

Mr Kazungu and Plan International staff member check the food supplies at the school
Mr Kazungu and Plan International staff member check the food supplies at the school.

Ramla agrees and says that having access to food is helping her perform better as she no longer feels hungry in class which has improved her concentration. “I can confidently say that the school feeding programme has brought hope for many children. Children from different corners of Ganze, especially those who were not attending school before, are now benefiting from the food available at school.”

“The school feeding programme should be rolled out at all schools, because, as we speak, we have students coming from other schools where there is no food available. We urge Plan International and other well-wishers to expand this programme across all hunger-stricken communities so that our young girls and boys can concentrate more on their studies,” concludes Mr Kazungu.