What you need to know:
- More worrying is the fate of thousands of girls who cannot afford sanitary towels on a regular basis.
- They are at risk of either skipping classes during menstruation or getting lured into sex in exchange for money, which they use to buy period products.
As over 160,000 Isiolo residents grapple with hunger due to the prolonged drought, learners in public primary schools are at risk of dropping out.
While the government has in the recent past sent food to schools in an effort to ensure learning goes on uninterrupted, the rations have not been sufficient to support the high number of pupils relying on the feeding programme to escape hunger at home.
On some occasions, the pupils are forced to carry some food home to cushion their siblings and parents, whose livelihoods have been adversely affected by the dry spell that has depleted pastures and drying of over 80 per cent of water sources in the county.
But more worrying is the fate of thousands of girls who cannot afford sanitary towels on a regular basis; they are at risk of either skipping classes during menstruation or getting lured into sex in exchange for money, which they use to buy period products.
Woman Representative Mumina Bonaya says while it is crucial for the government to upscale food distribution to schools in counties affected by drought, provision of sanitary towels should also be prioritised to ensure retention and achievement of the 100 per cent transition policy.
“Menstrual hygiene has been overlooked, with focus mainly on food provision, which exposes the girls to inexplicable suffering, including being forced to skip lessons,” she lamented.
Due to poverty and effects of drought and Covid-19, many parents are unable to provide sanitary pads to their daughters, hence the need for the government to chip in on a regular basis.
Ms Bonaya claimed President William Ruto had okayed a decision to shift the Ministry of Education sanitary towels programme to the office of the Women Representatives for efficiency of distribution. “There have been unnecessary delays by the ministry in the provision of the supplies.”
A number of the schools have recently recorded high absenteeism due to drought that has seen many families move in search of water and pasture for their emaciated animals, while others have resorted to casual jobs to assist their parents provide for their families.
Also read: Cost of sanitary towels should be reduced
The lawmaker spoke while distributing 10,000 reusable sanitary towels to Grade Five, Six and Junior Secondary learners donated by the Lay Volunteers International Organisation. The exercise, targeting schools across the county, kicked off at Mwangaza, St Kizito and Bulampya primary schools.
County Director of Education Caroline Mugo asked other partners to help upscale provision of sanitary towels to make girls comfortable while in school and have sufficient contact with the teachers for better learning. She said learners yet to join Form One and junior secondary school were being tracked to ensure they are in school in line with the government's 100 per cent transition policy.
“Apart from the school feeding programme, we are working with other partners to offer water trucking and are allowing food for fees to make sure no learner stays at home,” she said.
Ms Bonaya said a food consignment for the neediest families and highly populated schools would be distributed.