Samburu County is among the poorest in Kenya with 73% of its estimated population of 223,947 living below poverty line according to (KIHBS 2009). Insecurity related to cattle rustling and highway banditry continues to disrupt livelihoods strategies within the County. Inter-ethnic clashes are endemic and as a result, this year a number of schools and markets have been closed in Samburu North. Poor roads and telecommunication infrastructure remain the greatest challenge to the residents of Samburu County. The exorbitant price of food commodities due the poor road network erodes household purchasing power thus making the terms of trade totally unfavorable to the population.
Cordaid, IIRR and Caritas Maralal are implementing a UKAID funded project targeting 100 public primary schools in Samburu County. The project further covers other counties of Marsabit, Mandera, Tana River,Wajir and Informal settlements and urban slums in Nairobi and Mombasa. It builds on previous lessons and achievements of projects funded by UKAID. The project goal is to significantly improve enrolment, attendance and retention through climate change mitigation and adaptation activities in the primary schools. The project is expected to run from June 2015 – March 2016.
Research shows that schools in Samburu County need interventions from each and every stakeholder in education. This shall assist to increase enrollment, retention and completion rates. A schools’ needs assessment conducted by Caritas Maralal in June 2015, revealed that enrolment in schools is very low. It was also observed that a majority of the schools lack hand washing facilities which raises concerns about hygiene in schools. The schools with boarding facilities lack adequate water supply because they depend on roof catchments as the main source of water; rainfall in Samburu is erratic. The boarding facilities also lack adequate mattresses. All schools assessed had semi permanent classes and lack adequate desks. In Sura Adoru and Marti Primary schools there are structures set up by the Community Development Fund (CDF) to serve as dormitories but they lack facilities such as beds and mattresses.
A head teacher pointed out that her school needs a boarding facility to combat cultural practices such as beading, early and forced marriages that are endemic in the area and to ensure retention. Girls spend evenings singing for Morans and these “night” activities impact negatively on their attention in class. Cases of early pregnancies are rampant and if the girls can be retained in school through setting up a boarding facility, these issues shall be prevented.
A 2013 publication by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) and Society for International Development (SID) on “Exploring Kenya’s Inequality: Pulling Apart or Pulling Together?” reveals that, a total of 26% of Samburu County residents have a primary level of education only. The publication further discloses that only 6% of Samburu County residents have a secondary level of education or above and that a total of 68% of Samburu County residents have no formal education.
Based on the needs assessment a number of activities shall be implemented in the target schools. They shall range from Solar Installation, setting up of roof catchments for rain water harvesting, fabrication of energy saving jikos in schools, rehabilitation of existing infrastructure such as classes, establishment of school gardens and tree nurseries, distribution of desks and formation and strengthening of existing environmental Clubs. Some selected schools shall benefit from construction of climate friendly classrooms and dormitories, distribution of sanitary pads and learning sessions on gender based violence in girl camps. The project shall also create awareness in the education sector through strengthening coordination and networking between the government and all actors in education.
The importance of access to a well functioning education system in Samburu County cannot be over emphasized. Education is key in improving people’s welfare and an avenue to foster peace in Samburu county. From the needs assessment the schools lack adequate facilities to run their day to day operations and it is evident that this new project is relevant. The head teachers interviewed are looking forward to any possible interventions in their schools.