Imenti South education staeholders urge Sub Counties to improve standards

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By DAVID MUCHUI
Kathingiri Boarding Headteacher Micheni Ragwa (R), Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi (2nd R), Priscilla Murungi (Centre), KFS Chairman Peter Kirigua (2nd L) and Imenti South DEO David Ntuara (L) show off the Best Public Primary School trophy given to the school for leading nationally for six years running.

Kathingiri Boarding Headteacher Micheni Ragwa (R), Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi (2nd R), Priscilla Murungi (Centre), KFS Chairman Peter Kirigua (2nd L) and Imenti South DEO David Ntuara (L) show off the Best Public Primary School trophy given to the school for leading nationally for six years running.

Education stakeholders in Imenti South have called for concerted efforts to uplift education standards in the Meru County.

Speaking during a two day education strategic meeting at Igoji Teachers College, the School heads, education officials, political leaders and other stakeholders lamented that other parts of the County have been pulling down performance in national rankings.

Imenti South MP Kathuri Murungi who had convened the forum said that despite Imenti South Sub County being ranked well in national exams and other academic assessments, the county has remained in the bottom.

“Imenti South has been ranked top in national exams but the county is always ranked poorly. We were ranked position four nationally in a recent survey on literacy and arithmetics. I am sure if we were ranked as a County we would be tailing,” Kathuri said.

He said there is need for all leaders in the County to move with speed and change the trend adding that: “We do not want to be ashamed by the County performance yet we have done our best. Other Sub counties are tainting our performance.”

Kathuri said that the Meru Parliamentary Group has resolved to play its part in ensuring that education standards improve.

“We met recently with other MPs and discussed the education standards at length. As politicians we will do everything to support education. All MPs have vowed to ensure that their Constituencies catch up with Imenti South,” said Kathuri.

Expressing similar sentiments, Meru County Women Representative Florence Kajuju said that Imenti South has maintained an upward trend in education hence other Sub counties need to improve standards.

“We have always heard of South Imenti when it comes to national ranking. It is true that other parts of the County have been pulling down rankings of the County. I will do whatever it takes to ensure we improve our education,” Kajuju said.

She said that the political leaders are engaging the Cabinet Secretary for Education to ensure all schools with infrastructural challenges get a facelift.

“We have engaged the Education CS Prof Jacob Kaimenyi and he has promised to work with us in improving education. We want to ensure that all schools have the necessary facilities so that when we demand results there will be no scapegoats,” she said.


Makarena to chair ODM, unite Meru warring factions

Mike Mutembei 'Makarena' (R) consults with Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka during a recent visit to Meru. PHOTO/Ken Kimanthi/

Mike Mutembei ‘Makarena’ (R) consults with Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka during a recent visit to Meru. PHOTO/Ken Kimanthi/

By DAVID MUCHUI

A section of Meru ODM Mashinani leaders have called on the Party leader Raila Odinga to abandon his planned visit to Meru next month to pave way for resolution of party wrangles in the area.

In a press statement read by County Secretary Robert Kinyua, the ODM members said that they are ready to appoint Mike Mutembei ‘Makarena’ as the Meru  ODM Chairman saying he has the ability to unite the warring factions.

ODM Mashinani youth coordinator in Meru Jeremiah Mutethia said the group is ready to unite with other factions to strengthen the party in the region.

There has been infighting among ODM members in Meru with about four factions terming themselves as the genuine ODM leadership in the County.

“We have identified Makarena as the best suited to serve as ODM Chairman because of his track record. He is capable of uniting the warring parties and bring more members. If the party leadership reject our proposal we are ready to go for party elections to vote for Makarena,” Mutethia said.

They said that they are ready to install Makarena as the Chairman and asked the party secretariat to endorse their choice.

A faction of ODM leaders in Meru allied to Mike Mutembei during a press briefing.

A faction of ODM leaders in Meru allied to Mike Mutembei during a press briefing. PHOT0/David Muchui/

The leaders accused ODM MPs Mpuru Aburi (Tigania East) and Kubai Kiringo (Igembe Central) of abandoning the Orange Party to court the Jubilee government.

“Mpuru and Kiringo will only be allowed in ODM as members. Their loyalty is questionable because they got over 20,000 votes in their constituencies yet Raila got 3,000 only. We wish them well in their courtship with Jubilee,” Kinyua said.

They also accused ODMs top leadership of failing to provide direction for ODM Mashinani in the County.

“Every time when Raila visits Meru he is flanked by Ameru from Nairobi who steal the show from grassroots leaders. We are calling on Orange House to clean those messes and recongnise grass-root leaders,” said the Youth Coordinator.

The entry of Makarena, who hails from Mpuru’s backyard, into ODM politics is seen as party’s bid to neutralize Mpuru’s influence as he has been accused of disloyalty.

Recently, in a television show, Mpuru accused Raila of attempting to push him out of party and threatened to boycott Raila’s Meru visit.

They pledged support for the referendum calls by CORD and Council of governors.

Investment group aims to own homes with Sh100 daily savings

By DAVID MUCHUI
With the skyrocketing cost of living and unaffordable bank interest on loans, people are devising ways of leveraging on the power of many to meet desired financial obligations.

In Meru, a group comprising of over 200 people from all walks of life has come together with the aim of each owning a house worth millions in the next five years.

Twigaire Community Investment Group, a Community based organization (CBO),has a membership of over 200 members who contribute Sh100 per day and the money is kept in a joint account for investment.

According to Mr Isaac Kinoti, the brainchild of the idea and the Patron of Twigaire Community Investment Group, the members have been able to pool over Sh600 thousand in two months.

“The group is purely an investment group on the agreed project and is not a welfare group. We saw that most people can afford Sh100 in a day and everyone has to contribute without fail. We give a grace period of 15 days after which you are removed from the group and lose your savings,” Kinoti explains.

He notes that many people have money but have challenges in saving up to accomplish any project that needs a lot of money.

“Saving money in a bank does not add so much value and borrowing loans can lead some people to more problems. Instead of saving the money and borrowing a loan on it, we have decided to consolidate it and invest in an income generating project. The income generating projects will help us meet our long-term goal,” he relates.

Growing savings
The Patron of the group says that every member is expected to contribute for one year an amount totaling to Sh36, 000 which will be ploughed into viable and agreed upon investments.

“The members have agreed to buy four one acre pieces of land this year where we will rear indigenous chicken. We intend to spend Sh300, 000 per acre and we have already started scouting for land. We will keep 800 Kienyeji chickens in every farm,” says an optimistic Kinoti.

The group has adopted a no debt principle to avert tussles within the group and for safety of their investments.

Besides investing, the group will be able to provide employment for some of their members who have shown interest in managing the four poultry farms.

“From the over 1600 chicken, we anticipate to be making close to Sh900 million in a month. After one year, the members will have their Sh36, 000 working for them and no more contribution will be needed.

In fact, the members can start earning dividends while the rest of the profit is ploughed back into the business,” he says confidently.

Own a house
Kinoti further reveals that in the fifth year, the group will be buying land which will be subdivided for sale and construction of houses for the members.

“In five years, we expect every member to own a house worth millions of shillings. We may opt to use cheaper prefabricated building technology to cut costs and time,” says Kinoti who is an investor in the hospitality industry in Meru.

The group members meet every weekend where they deliberate on the progress and submit records of their contributions which are done direct to the group bank account.

“The group leadership changes hands every month where members take over based on the registration list. Every member foots the bill for any group activity and only the bank is allowed to handle the money. A decision is binding if it is approved by 50 percent of the members,” he adds.

Kinoti says that the investment idea is an inspiration of his own financial experience and advice received from successful people in the society.

“Investing requires patience and discipline. I have managed to buy land and construct business premises without borrowing. However, it has taken me over 10 years and I am yet to finish up. The beauty of it all is that I owe no one,” Twigaire Group Patron asserts.

His advice to those seeking to make wealth is to do everything possible to ensure their money is at work. “You are either working to be a millionaire or working to make someone a millionaire,” he quips.

Kinoti who is also a radio presenter with a local radio station says that no one should despise their income no matter how low as it has potential to lift their lives if invested wisely.

To those who have dismissed the group as yet another pyramid scheme, he says the group is a way of making money work for its members.

Former drunkards sobering up with the allure of dairy farming

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A Farmer receives a heifer from Meru Central DCC Samuel Kimiti as Mwanganthia MCA Julius Mbijiwe (Centre) looks on. Photo/David Muchui/

A Farmer receives a heifer from Meru Central DCC Samuel Kimiti as Mwanganthia MCA Julius Mbijiwe (Centre) looks on. Photo/David Muchui/

By DAVID MUCHUI
Residents of Mwanganthia division in Meru Central are increasingly abandoning other ventures for dairy farming following the huge financial benefits the business has brought in the area.

According to Nkando Dairy Centre Chairman Elijah Mosoti, he founded the dairy centre in 2003 as a private business but decided to turn it into a public firm in 2009 to benefit the community.

“We registered the Dairy Centre as a Self help Group with seven members but upgraded to a CBO in 2010 as the number rose to 185. We now have 163 producing members and supply over 9,000 liters of milk every month,” Mosoti explains.

He notes that the Meru Central Dairy Union buys the milk at Sh38 from which the members earn Sh33 while Sh5 cover transportation costs.

“In the month of June, we produced 9,843 liters of Milk earning about Sh400, 000. We are now working on improving the quality of our cows so that we can increase production to warrant a license from the Dairy board,” he says.

Following the economic impact of dairy farming, Duruma Location Chief Japhet Mithika has managed to organize men into groups where they buy dairy cows as a way of fighting alcoholism.

“Alcoholism was a major problem in this location as most young men were idle. In one village of 96 households, 16 households were engaging in illicit brew business. There were several disputes and assault cases reported at my office due to alcoholism. We were almost losing the battle,” Chief Mithika says.

He observes that constant arrest of brewers did not bear much fruits as the suspects would find a way of getting back to the trade.

After consulting with various elders, they discovered that idleness among men and youth was the root cause of thriving cheap illicit brew business.

“It is then that we decided to start an investment group for men. They realized that dairy farming is doing well in this area and decided to buy dairy cows. They group now has 11 dairy heifers,” the Chief recounts.

Mugutune Arithi Men Self Help Group registered early this year has now offered a remedy for alcoholism which the Chief says has greatly subsided as most youth have also been able to own a boda boda.

The group buys a heifer every two weeks after each of the 50 members contributes Sh400 a week.

Mosoti says they need for more farmers to come together to cut costs of transportation and help in improvement of quality of milk in the County.

The Dairy Center Chairman notes that they need support from the County government to acquire a milk cooler, a packaging machine and a pasteurizer to enable them process their milk.

“Farmers need to observe the guidelines laid out by the Kenya Dairy Board to ensure quality and hygiene of milk. We want every farmer to produce at least 10 liters of milk in a day to enable us meet the demand,” the Chairman says.

Meru Central Deputy County Commissioner Samuel Kimiti lauds the initiative that has brought down illicit brew business adding that the dairy farming will transform the economy of the area.

“We are now talking of over Sh400, 000 in the pockets of farmers. If more farmers produce milk, you will be able to process and create jobs at the plant and transport sector,” Kimiti notes.

According to one of the residents who received a dairy cow from the Mugutune Arithi group, the initiative is a god send since it has rescued them from the brunt of alcoholism.

“I have never seen anything like this. We have been engaging in hide and seek games with the Chief as we sought to drink illicit brews. Young men were resulting to selling valuables to get money to buy alcohol. But now we are thinking of owning dairy cows,” said one of the Mugutune Arithi Men group members.

Mr Mithika, the area Chief now says he has been able to arrest the last illicit brew dealer in the area due to good support from member of the public through the Nyumba Kumi initiative.

Meru Leaders divided in war for Miraa as farmers, traders cry foul

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By DAVID MUCHUI
Since the ban on Miraa was effected in the Netherlands and intent to ban in the United Kingdom was made known, much has been said and done by the political leadership, farmers and business people in Meru.

From the lobbying for support of the crop in the Kenyan and UK Parliament to a fundraiser in aid of a legal battle in the UK courts, all seems to have hit a snag after the UK government slapped Miraa traders with a ban early June.

While leaders are falling over themselves to earn points from the circumstances, National Campaign Against Drug Abuse Authority (NACADA) placed yet another hurdle on the race to save the herb by proposing that chewing be restricted to between 5pm and 10pm.
The leaders have been quick to hit back on NACADA over the intention.

The developments have resulted to dissatisfaction among Miraa farmers who have accused a section of Meru MPs, who staged the fight to rescue the market in UK, of misappropriating the money raised for the court case.

Miraa farmers have been feeling cheated by the political leaders while the political leaders have expressed their undying commitment to defend the crop with each seeking an avenue for rescuing the herb.

Meru County Women Representative Florence Kajuju as well as MPs from Igembe who were seen as the ambassadors for Khat in the ensuing struggle, have had to dispel claims that the money raised at Maili Tatu was squandered in the trips to UK.

Kajuju who led the Parliamentary Adhoc Committee on Miraa says that she did her best and staged a spirited fight to stop the ban and those spreading the rumors are out to taint the MPs’ names.

“The committee prepared a report and tabled it in parliament where it was approved. The report recommended that the government supports growth and marketing of Miraa. It also provided for amendment of the Crops Act 2013 to include Miraa as a scheduled crop. This will enable the Ministry of agriculture make policies for the improvement and marketing of the crop,” Kajuju says.

She further said that the report by her committee recommended that the government provides funds to Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) to facilitate a credible research that will ascertain whether Miraa is harmful.

“Already, the 2014/2015 has provided about Sh60 million for the scientific research on Miraa. Politics aside, let us work together to defend the crop. MPs went to London as a special parliamentary committee and all expenses were covered by the National assembly. Money raised in Meru was used to pay lawyers,” she argues.

Ms Kajuju said it was unfortunate that the case did not succeed. The MPs and other stakeholders were now trying to find new markets for the crop, especially in China and India, she added.

On his part, Igembe Central MP Kubai Kiringo says he is in shock over the claims that the MPs misused the money raised by farmers and business people.

“There are people out to fight Miraa from left right and centre. The infighting that has emerged after the ban will not do us any good. Farmers, leaders and traders should join hands to fight the common enemy first before turning to ourselves. We have never used a coin from the fundraiser money,” Kiringo remarked.

The MP who was speaking during the Igembe South Education Day at Maua Girls’ High school warned the residents against disrespecting their leaders.

Amendment to the Crops Act
Mr Kiringo explains that all the money raised at Maili Tatu Harambee was banked in the Cooperative Bank while Sh2 million from Meru County government was sent to the Lawyers.

“The Lawyers in the London were paid Sh7 million while the Kenyan lawyer who prepared the files was paid Sh600, 000. Let us stop fighting over unfounded rumors and defend the crop,” he said.

The Igembe Central MP said that their current focus it to ensure the crop is protected under the Crops Act before going out to seek for other markets.

In a social media update on 23rd July, Kiringo said that he had successfully moved a motion seeking an amendment to the Crops Act 2013 to include Miraa in the list of cash crops in Kenya.

“I am happy to announce that this came to be as the amendment got majority of the votes. I hereby take this opportunity to thank the team that steered this amendment, Members of Parliament who voted for the same and you the citizen for your endless support. Kazi Iendelee,” Kiringo wrote.

Adding his voice on the matter, an agitated Igembe South MP Mithika Linturi assured residents of Igembe that the MPs had not given up on the fight for Miraa.

Linturi who also spoke during the Igembe South Education Day told off those spreading rumors of funds misuse and blamed the loss of the court case to omissions in filing of the petition.

“The fight for Miraa is on and those smearing our names don’t know what they are saying. Some of them did not contribute anything during the fundraiser. It is a shame that Miraa farmers and traders who are said to reap big from the crop contributed small monies,” charged Linturi.

He lamented that no Miraa farmer or resident of the Miraa growing zone was involved in the suit filed in the UK case leading to filing of a weak case.

“The case was filed by a UK based businessman and lawyers hired from Nairobi and UK. The people of Meru who know the Miraa crop better were not involved. We discovered this while in London,” Linturi revealed.

European Human Rights Court

Linturi said that he has taken the Miraa legal battle a notch higher by sponsoring a petition in the European Court of Human Rights seeking withholding of the ban for three to five years to cushion farmers from the effects of the ban.

“Lawyers led by former MP for Imenti Central Gitobu Imanyara have already flown to the European court to seek leave for 3-5 years to enable farmers organize themselves. You cannot cut off the economic lifeline abruptly and leave them in suffering. It is a human right violation which must be guarded against,” Linturi said.

The MP said that he will personally foot the bill for the suit and expects the Court to instruct the UK government to lift the ban for a period of time.

Miraa Taskforce
Meanwhile, Meru County Governor Peter Munya has announced plans to establish a Miraa taskforce that will look into the Miraa problems among them the loss of European market.

Speaking during the launch of the County Integrated Development Plan at Three Steers Hotel recently, Munya noted that the impact of the ban is big on livelihoods and general economy of the County.

“The Taskforce on Miraa is expected to find out the impact of the ban and give recommendations on what can be done to cushion farmers and traders. The taskforce should be able to make recommendations that will be adopted by the national government to help in harnessing the situation,” Munya said.

He noted that Miraa trade has had a great influence on the economy of the County through the ripple effect.
“Some people may show no concern on the ban because they are not farmers or chewers. Let them know that everyone has benefited from Miraa money. We expect to find options on farming and marketing and look into ways of expanding and opening new markets,” the governor said.

Munya further said that the County government will engage with the governments that have banned Miraa to come up with ways of rejuvenating the economy that has largely relied on the crop.

However, some leaders have been calling on Miraa farmers to look beyond the crop and diversify into other forms of agriculture.

Residents in fear over fallen electric poles

The electric poles that are dangerously hanging over a road in Linjoka Igembe North

The electric poles that are dangerously hanging over a road in Linjoka Igembe North

By DAVID MUCHUI

Electric poles that have been hanging precariously over a busy road at Linjoka, Ntunene in Igembe North for the last five months are causing the residents sleepless nights.

According to residents, the poles were excavated by a dozer that has been grading roads in the area since it was on the road reserve.

They say their efforts to call the Kenya Power officers to relocate the poles have hit a dead end with live electric wires budging under the weight of the pole.

“This is dangerous to us because it may fall any time. Despite making calls to the Kenya Power office they have never come to check,” Cyrus Kiunga whose home is near the risky poles says.

Pastor Jacob Mutia said that the pole has been moving everyday due to the strong winds leaving the road users lives in danger.

Ntunene MCA Geoffrey Maore said that most of the electric poles in the area are within the road reserve exposing them to excavation during road maintenance.

They are calling on the County government which is responsible for rural electrification to act with speed and avert a disaster.

Water accessibility still a mirage as Igembe North seeks Sh1billion

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By DAVID MUCHUI

In search of water: A woman carries empty jerrycans to a watering point in Igembe North. Women have to walk several Kilometers in search of the commodity.

In search of water: A woman carries empty jerrycans to a watering point in Igembe North. Women have to walk several Kilometers in search of the commodity.

Residents of Igembe North are calling on the Meru County government to fast-track plans to sink boreholes and establish rain water harvesting projects.

Already, rain water harvesting projects have been initiated at various places by Africa Water Bank and County government.

However, residents say there is need for a reliable water source that will cushion them from the effects of prolonged dry seasons.

According to Igembe North Constituency Strategic Plan 2013-2018, the constituency will spend close to Sh1billion in the water sector in an ambitious plan to make water accessible to every household by December 2017.
 
Quoting a 2013 feasibility Study, the strategic plan cites that the people of Igembe North incur a monthly expenditure of over Sh5 million on water totaling to over Sh64 million annually.
 
It further notes that eight percent of the residents trek distances of about 30 kilometers in search of water.
 
As a result, the Sh906 million set aside for the Water sector is expected to settle the chronic water problem that has bedeviled Igembe North for decades.
 
Some of the interventions laid down in the strategic plan for the water sector include mapping of water points in the constituency, construction of five water points in every Ward to reduce the distance of water to below two kilometers, drilling of three boreholes in each ward by 2017, construction of water pans, build community capacity for rainwater harvesting and developing an independent piped water system from Mailitatu.
 
The Constituency intends to ensure that 50 percent of rainwater is harvested by every household by 2017.
 
Recently, Meru County CEC in charge of water Mrs Mary Mwiti water projects worth Sh430 million in Igembe and Tigania are on course in a bid to end water shortage problems.

Residents of Igembe North queue to fetch water at Kaelo market. This is the most reliable source of water though it suffers electricity outages leaving residents to buy from water vendors at up to Sh30 per 20 litre jerrycan.  A 20  litre Jerrycan is sold at Sh5 at this borehole. The water point dispenses about 12 thousand litres a day.

Residents of Igembe North queue to fetch water at Kaelo market. This is the most reliable source of water though it suffers electricity outages leaving residents to buy from water vendors at up to Sh30 per 20 litre jerrycan.
A 20 litre Jerrycan is sold at Sh5 at this borehole. The water point dispenses about 12 thousand litres a day.

A young girl carries a 20 liter jerrycan at Linjoka, Igembe North. Water shortage remains a biting problem in the area.

A young girl carries a 20 liter jerrycan at Linjoka, Igembe North. Water shortage remains a biting problem in the area.

Chaaria boy overcomes colostomy to be among top of class

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By DAVID MUCHUI

Morgan Mutiga (2nd R) with brother (R), his mother Isabella Gakii (L) and Palliative Care Nurse Faith Kobia (2nd L) at their home.

Morgan Mutiga (2nd R) with brother (R), his mother Isabella Gakii (L) and Palliative Care Nurse Faith Kobia (2nd L) at their home.

Morgan Mutiga, 14, a Class Six pupil at DEB Chaaria Primary School has managed to beat the odds of his condition to perform well in academics.

Mutiga was diagnosed with a weak rectum at age of four days before undergoing an operation known as colostomy to create an opening (Stoma) on the abdomen to allow passage of stool.

The boy who comes from a humble background has had to contend with covering his stoma with a ‘Leso’ since the family cannot afford a pair of Stoma bags that cost about Sh900.

The stigma from fellow pupils resulting from odour and the fact that he can’t help himself normally has not deterred him from remaining top ten in his class.

Mutiga says that he has experienced discrimination from fellow pupils due to his condition and were it not for it, he can do better in his academics.

According to the mother, Isabella Gakii, she delivered at Coast General hospital 14 years ago and her son passed stool only once before doctors discovered the condition.

Regular visits to Kenyatta National Hospital have drained the family of all its resources while maintaining the stoma has become a tall order.

“I had been taking him to Kenyatta Hospital every month until he was eight years old when we run out of money. He was late to join school and I was afraid how other children will stay with him. Most of the time he is alone because of the smell,” Ms Gakii said.

However, the family has had some relieve in the last few days after Meru Hospice started providing home based care.

“I have really suffered because of the boy. Meru Hospice is god sent because they are providing us with stoma bags. The Lesos he has been using are not reliable because they get soiled and produce smell,” she said.

She notes that the use of Lesos had sometimes caused infections aggravating the situation.

Ms Faith Kobia, a Palliative Care Nurse and an accredited Stoma, Wound and Continence Nurse says that Mutiga is now ready for a corrective operation that will allow him to defecate normally.

“The condition develops during fetal development. It is difficult for school going children if they don’t have Stoma bags. A pair of Stoma bags can be used for three days only yet each pair costs Sh900,” Ms Kobia says.

She says that Morgan needs to undergo a surgical process known as anastomosis to join the colon to the rectum.

“The family is struggling a lot to afford the medical care. I urge Kenyans and other well wishers to support this boy who is doing so well in school despite his condition,” she said

The mother is now calling on well wishers to come to their aid to help her son undergo corrective surgery to enable him live a normal life.

Nkubu develops first High School Alcohol and Drug Abuse Policy

Nkubu High School Principal Mr Nicholas Nyagah

Nkubu High School Principal Mr Nicholas Nyagah

By DAVID MUCHUI

Mr Nicholas Nyagah, the Principal Nkubu High School has been synonymous with transformational leadership at the institution where income generating projects are saving the school millions of shillings while paying school fees to several needy and bright students.

Once again, the high school known for its academic prowess is back in the limelight in its initiative to fight alcohol and drug abuse among students after developing the first high school alcohol and drug abuse policy in the country.

Just recently, illicit brews have claimed many lives in the country even as the war on drug and substance abuse is seen to be gathering momentum.

Nkubu High School  has set the pace in this war among secondary schools in the country with the development of a policy document to contain the vice within the institution.

The policy document which is the initiative of the Principal Nicholas Nyagah has drawn attention from various players in the war against drug and substance abuse and is set to be launched by NACADA Chairman John Mututho, school heads and top government officials early next month.

According to Mr Nyagah, the School Policy on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (ADA)  was advised by the need to have a concrete strategy to fight alcohol and drug abuse among students in the school.

“The idea of a policy to contain drugs came up when we realized that we are losing many children to drugs. When I joined the school in 2009, I discovered that drinking of illicit brews and smoking of bhang was prevalent. Once in a while we had unrests and our research showed that some students were abusing high end drugs like cocaine,” Nyagah said.

He says that the policy has been drafted by a committee made of seven teachers in consultation with students and parents.

“The policy touches on anybody interacting with the school including suppliers. Anyone who interacts with the school is bound by the document. We have already started experiencing change due to the sensitization done during development of the document,” he said.

Mr Nyagah says the school is partnering with the National Authority for Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) and the county government in the fight against drug abuse.

“The NACADA Chairman has received the document well because it is only one university that has such a document in the Country. If we start fighting the menace among the young people, we will have a sober generation in few years,” the principal remarks

The policy he says can be applied by all other secondary schools in the country to help contain drug and substance abuse.

“We have already started experiencing the benefits of the policy document because the boys are no longer engaging in alcohol abuse. Before we did the sensitization programmes we would occasionally come across beer containers in the school compound. This is no more,” Nyagah said.

He notes that the boy child has heavily suffered the effect of alcohol and drug abuse hence such initiatives will help empower them.

“The aim of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse policy is to create a better teaching and learning environment for purposes of preparing youth who are healthy in mind and spirit and wholly formed to face the future with confidence,” he adds

Mr Nyagah is calling on the government through the ministry of education to recommend testing equipment for all schools in the country to contain drug and substance abuse among teenagers.

“I am appealing to the government to help schools contain drug abuse by supplying special equipment for testing. This can be administered during school opening days and randomly within the school term. If we can be able to fight drugs from the school level, then we will be able to rid our society of this habit,” Nyagah notes.

The policy document recommends random testing of students, life skills lessons, surveillance, awareness creation, counseling and rehabilitation.

The school is also working with an organization known as Elewa Ulevi in fighting drug abuse among students.

Rampant child labor hampering education in Igembe

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By DAVID MUCHUI

Leaders in Igembe region, Meru County have raised concerns over persistent cases of child labor in the area leading to high school dropout rates.

According to Joseph Mutua, a project coordinator with Kangaroo Actors 2000; a community based organization, cases of child neglect, abuse and child labor are rampant in the area.

“Most children are employed in Miraa farms where they are abused and end up losing time they should be in school. Some parents also partner with employers to receive money at the expense of their children education. We are sensitizing the community on the need to end this vice,” Mutua said.

He says that the CBO has been working with the residents in rescuing children from child labor and helping them join school, as well as vocational training centres.

The project coordinator further notes that most affected children belong to illiterate parents who prefer their children to do menial jobs than be in school.

Kangaroo Actors manager Christopher Kimwere told CiaMeru that they have been able to restore about 100 children to school and polytechnics.

“We are glad that many children have benefited from this initiative. Through mentorship and sensitizing the community we hope to have great gains on eradicating child labor and keeping children in school,’ he said

Karingene Sub-location Assistant Chief James Kirimi affirms that there have been several cases of child abuse related to child labor.

The administrator revealed that drug peddlers have also been using school children to smuggle and sell bhang in the area.

“We recently arrested caught up with some children who were being used to sell bhang We are on top of the matter to ensure such cases come to an end. I call on residents to support in this initiative and ensure all children are in school.

Benson Kinyua, an orphan, says the initiative by Kangaroo actors has enabled him to continue with secondary education.

He recounted how he engaged in charcoal burning and other menial jobs to fend for his aged grandmother before he joined Kadubai Day Secondary school in Igembe South.

Margaret Nkui a leader of a child group says the initiative has helped many children go back to school.

The United Nations Millenium Development Goals (MDG) Goal two target us to ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.

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