A school where all is well... until the rains

Student of Embakasi Girls Secondary School studying in the open after their classrooms were flooded last week after a heavy downpour.[Edward Kiplimo,Standard]
A public secondary school in Embakasi has raised concerns over regular flooding during the rainy season as this disrupts learning.

In the recent past, Embakasi Girls Secondary School has made headlines every time it rains.

In 2014, the school was closed after a heavy downpour left the buildings, including the dormitories, flooded.

This year has been no different. After a heavy downpour last week, the dormitories, kitchen, stores, classrooms and offices were left submerged.

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More rain

And with the Meteorological Department warning of more rains in the city this week, things can only get worse.

“Since 2012, before I came to this school, there have been reports of flooding. It is sad that more than five years later, we are still grappling with the same situation,” said Susan Geke, the head teacher.

Ms Geke blamed the flooding on encroachment, saying the expanded Mukuru kwa Reuben and Mukuru kwa Njenga slums had taken up the drainage spaces that existed previously.

During last week’s heavy rains, the students were forced to stay up late searching for less flooded dormitories where they shared beds. Some ended up spending nights in the classrooms.

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Property destroyed

“We had up to four students sharing a bed but even that was not enough. A few were forced to go back to the flooded dorms to use the uppermost bunks of the triple-decker beds. It is dangerous but it was our only option,” she said.

When Metropolitan visited the school, the students had just finished breakfast and were out in the soggy grounds.

Their classroom chairs and desks had been put outside to dry; the classrooms were empty and a mark on the wall was evidence of how high the water had risen - about 50cm from the ground.

Teachers had to move from the staffroom to allow the students to use it. The head teacher said it was converted into a classroom.

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For almost two days, there was no learning as the students cleaned up the hostels and classrooms and aired their bedding.

“The cooking stove was also drowned in the floods and had to be dried before it could be used again,” said Geke.

Inside the dormitories, metal suitcases, mattresses and bedding were bundled together and placed on the topmost beds.

The school is situated in the middle of informal settlements and has poorly built walls, which allow water in from the slums.

“The sewage water from the slums gets right into the school compound, leaving a pungent smell. This is a terrible atmosphere for learning,” she said.

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Geke said it was difficult to manage the students when their dorms flooded, as the existing structures were already over-occupied.

“The existing dormitories are temporary structure that were set up when the school burnt some years back. The new building meant to accommodate up to 350 students has never been finalised, many years on,” she added.

Temporary solution

County government officials visited the school last week and and promised to dig trenches as a temporary solution to the problem.

And yesterday, the head teacher confirmed that workers from the county had already started digging trenches to drain water out of the school compound.

“There is nothing more we can do, but we hope the trenches will help to drain the water out of the compound,” she said.

Geke also said the county authorities had promised to complete the construction of a permanent dormitory. Construction reportedly began in 2015 but stalled due to lack of payments.

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