Ethiopia is only three kilometres away to the North of Sololo town in Moyale Sub-county, Marsabit County. Five kilometres from the town lies an only girls’ boarding school in the Sub-county, Dr. Guracha Girls’ Boarding School that has been in existence for nine years with a population of 186 students, 10 teachers and 8 support staff. The school hits a home run each year with their sterling academic performance but according to the school’s principal, Ms. Amina Wako, if the underlying challenges they face are solved, the academic perform would be exceptional.
“You see, there is no office that my feet have not treaded. I have literally knocked into all offices requesting for help. Some of them have even gotten a little groggy whenever they see me. Others have literally walked out on me when they saw me approaching, says Ms. Amina, flashing a smile at me. A seemingly agitated school principal adds, “For the nine years the school has been in existence, we have only survived with only one cooking stove, commonly known as ‘jiko’ which serves the entire school’s population. When food is prepared for both staff and students, it takes considerable amount of time, class lessons are delayed, students lose class concentration as food is delayed and cooks are also under pressure to present food yet there is nothing much they can do to expedite the cooking”.
That the chimney of the only existing jiko is tumbledown and the kitchen gets real smoky frustrates her and the cooks even more. They are obliged one too many times to light up two open fires in the already too small a kitchen even with the unrelenting scourge of heat spraying its rays on the corrugated iron-sheets kitchen Breathing and even movements within the kitchen becomes harder. The open fires, she says, decreases the pace of cooking as the cooking pot does not sit in the hottest part of the flames hence less heat is transferred. The situation worsens when it’s a windy condition as the flames are not shielded. The smoke is also a health risk causing eyes and lungs infection. She acknowledges that there’s high consumption of wood fuel as the school ends up using as much as 5 trucks of firewood per term with each costing 15,000 each leading to increased deforestation and hugely contributing to the effects of climate change.
The story of Dr. Guracha Girls’ Secondary School’s is not any different from that of many schools in Marsabit County. PACIDA, in a bid to mitigate the effects of climate change, distributed 6 (200Litres) energy saving jikos to 3 schools; Saku Boys’ High School (Saku), Hon.Isacko Secondary School (North Horr) and Dr. Guracha Girls’ High School (Moyale) sub-counties. This was after the schools requested for assistance citing cases of delays in school lessons and overally poor academic performance. The energy saving jikos uses a small quantity of wood fuel, it is safe for environmental conservation since few trees are fallen for firewood. They also help in mitigating effects of climate change by preventing excessive tree cutting for fuel. They all have a chimney which help smoke to escape and therefore guarantees good health to the cooks at school.
“With the two additional stoves, my cookery will be easened, as food takes less time to cook. They conserve heat and I definitely will use less fuel. Lately, I had started developing eye infections but this assistance is quiet timely and am sure I’ll experience no more of that, says Ms. Qabale Duba, the school cook with a smile like a Cheshire cat. “Like Ms. Qabale said, our fuel consumption will reduce drastically from 5 trucks to 2 trucks per term, meals for both teachers and students will always be on time and in-turn save on the learning time thereby improving on the learning performance. By the time you come back to the school in 2017, you’ll realize a big change in our academic performance. We are thrilled by your generous support and we are happy you heeded to our plea and assisted. Now henceforth, Dr.Guracha Girls’ have received a new life symbolically shown by the smoke spiraling to the sky from the chimney of the cooking jikos. We are also overjoyed by knowing that in one way or another, you are contributing to our schools’ vision statement that reads; To improve quality, accessible and affordable education for the girl child, God bless you PACIDA,” adds the School’s Principal.