Impact of Drought on Primary Schools Learning in Laikipia West District of Laikipia County, Kenya
Gitau, David Ndichu
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Laikipia West district receives between 500 mm and 950mm of rainfall annually. It is therefore, classified as a semi arid region with harsh and fragile environment. The low and erratic rainfalls govern vegetation dynamics, animals‟ survival and the general human welfare. Frequent drought as a result of climate change has exacerbated and compounded the problem of provision of quality basic education in the district. This study was conducted to investigate drought prevalence and the impact it has on the learning of pupils in the district. The study was carried out between August to December 2011 in two different agro ecological zones; high agricultural potential area in Muhotetu and Sipili in the west as well as dry zones of Ol moran and Rumuruti in the north and eastern parts of the district respectively. Primary data collection was through the use of questionnaires and informal discussions with community members as well as education officers. Questionnaires were administered to both teachers and classes seven and eight pupils in twenty four out of the seventy two public primary schools in the district. Visits to the pastureland where school going children were looking after animals during school days, and interaction with communities in the district also formed part of the study. Rainfall and temperature data from meteorological department were used to reinforce schools attendance data. Indigenous knowledge from the elders of the communities and secondary data were used to corroborate the findings. The secondary data sources included review of published reports, journals, internet and books to identify existing information on the effects of drought on learning. The collected data were analyzed using descriptive qualitative and quantitative statistics such as percentages and frequencies. The results were processed; tabulated and analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) Version 11(Students‟ version) to generate descriptive statistics. The findings indicated that, drought cases significantly impacts negatively on the learning of pupils in schools (χ2=16.2761,df = 3, P=0.001). The results indicated that, drought contributed to absenteeism at 33%,truancy at 17%, poor performance at 16% and both transfers and drop out at 21% Data from meteorological department for the period between the year 2000 and 2010 indicate low rainfall annually especially during the months of January to March and June to December. Temperatures range between 10.7oC to 25.25oC at Nanyuki substation weather station and between 7.8oC to 20.41oC in Nyahururu substation. The elders from Laikipia west communities had Indigenous ways to mitigate against the impacts of drought in the area though some negatively affected their environment. Due to the low rainfall in most parts of the district, the results of this study recommend that, policy makers ought to take decisive measures aimed at arresting the perennial suffering of both people and animals in the district by drilling boreholes, water harvesting during rainy seasons into reservoirs and a well sustained feeding programme in all the schools in the district.