Kenya: Devolution Fantasy - Turkana Village That Has No School or Health Centre

The nearest school to Loroo village in Turkana West is about 20 kilometres away.

And to get to a health centre, one has to go almost twice the distance to Kakuma town.

Eight years after devolution, where health and early childhood education are now the functions of the 47 county governments, residents of Loroo still have to contend with these distances to get basic services that devolution was meant to take close to the people.

On a school day, it is not a surprise to see children not preparing for school but accompanying their fathers and older brothers to herd livestock. Their sisters and mothers will be home, finishing household chores in this pastoralist community.

Boys aged between six and 10, who should ordinarily be in school, don long striped t-shirts, most of them barefoot, happily tend their family's goats and sheep.

Mr Lokirien Igogoyo, a 61-year-old elder in the village says the children accompany adults to the grazing fields because there is no school in the village.

"Many girls at the village who are 15 and above have never set foot in a classroom and that means that the next stage for them is marriage. For the boys, those as young as nine years are able to take care of a herd," says Mr Igogoyo.

Those who have been to class are the ones who migrated to villages that have schools or to Kakuma town.

Mr Igogoyo has four wives; Natapar, who has nine children, Lokwakipi (eight), Ipoo (five) and Akaru (six).

Importance of schools

"As much as they provide me with labour to take care of my livestock, I would love if we had a school here so that through education, some of them can be teachers, veterinary officers and business people in future," the elder says.

Although no family member has stepped into a classroom before, Mr Igogoyo knows and appreciates the importance of school, seeing that many villages he has been migrating to in search of water and pasture have schools and children with jobs he can only dream of for his 28 children.

Ms Natapar, one of Mr Igogoyo's wives, says that although Ngijawoi village that is 20 kilometres away has a school, it is not practical to subject their children to such long distances on foot while passing through wildlife infested thickets.

She also points out that they have suffered to access medical services because the village does not have a dispensary.

"Traditional birth attendants and traditional medicine are more reliable in our village. But in worse situations, a family must migrate to Kakuma to access specialised health care services," Ms Natapar adds.

Accessing Kakuma town is not a walk in the park, as there is no reliable public transport.

No other option

"We request a nursery school so that our children can learn how to read and write. At the moment they don't have any other options other than to join us in herding the livestock," says Mr Lomus Achale, 42.

Mr Achale says it is an opportune time for both levels of government to establish a school and a hospital in the village because of the recently rehabilitated community borehole.

This only borehole in the village serves 6,500 people and 40,000 livestock.

The presence of a reliable source of water, Mr Achale says, is a guarantee for them to settle on their ancestral land.

"Now that we have water after Welthungerhilfe (WHH) Organisation funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) rehabilitated the borehole in partnership with the county government's Ministry of Water, Environment and Mineral Resources, we need more basic services so that we don't cover long distances to Ngijawoi village or Kakuma, which is 40 kilometres away," says Mr Achale.

Easy access to basic social amenities will attract locals who migrated away from the village due to the plight.

The village is also allowing pastoralists from the neighbouring Lokai, Karumodou and Longole Arengan villages to access the water because of the scarcity in the area. They are hopeful that once established, a school and health centre will also serve all of them.

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