Learners study under trees after lake swallowed Baringo schools

Grade One, Grade Two and Class Seven pupils at Ngambo Primary School in Baringo County study under a tree. [Harun Wathari Standard]

A strong wind blows and the dust rises, forcing the head teacher of Ngambo Primary School to flee from under a tree where he was sitting.

The books and pieces of paper on his table are blown away and scattered as a chalkboard pinned on a nearby tree falls to the ground. Learners under the tree are forced to cover their heads and clutch their books.

“We are used to this. This is where I receive my visitors. I have been operating under this tree for close to two years now following the swelling of Lake Baringo and the subsequent submerging of our school. This is an office,” said Parkolo Shariff, the headteacher Ngambo Primary School. 

Grade One, Grade Two and Class Seven pupils operate under a tree. The school with a population of 342 learners has three permanent classrooms, two others made of iron sheet and others under a tent donated by Kenya Red Cross. The tent though is torn.

With the harsh weather conditions, learning here is not a walk in the park.

The school was among several others that were relocated after they were displaced by rising water lakes. Other schools submerged include Salabani Secondary School, Ngambo Secondary, Lake Baringo, and Salabani primary which had to be rebuilt.

“Learners face numerous challenges, there is a lot of trespassing, the sun is hot, animals cross here interfering with the learners’ concentration,” he said.

He added that there is rampant absenteeism as there is no food for the learners. The school feeding programme he said played a critical role in wooing learners to attend school. The swelling of the lake he noted displaced locals and farmlands were submerged, families had to relocate and are having a rough time rebuilding.

Ngambo Primary School was among several others that were relocated after they were displaced by rising water lakes. [Harun Wathari Standard]

Jonathan Lekombe a father of four said before the lake swelled he was growing maize on a two-acre farm. He was displaced and had to be accommodated by a neighbour.

“I was among the first people to be affected by the swelling lakes, life is hard, we have no food, and our livestock died after we moved as we had no place to graze them. My home was also submerged,” he said.

Lekombe said he has been paying fees for his deceased brother’s child, a Form Three Student, who has now been forced to stay at home due to lack of fees. 

In March, KCPE candidates in schools in Muchongoi wrote their examinations amid gunshots. Levis Kiptai, 16, was in pain to explain how his dream of becoming a doctor was deferred after he was forced to repeat Class Eight.

The pupil at Marigat Integrated Primary School said though he had performed well in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Examination his parents had no money to have him admitted to Form One.

“I got 336 marks, I am at pains to have repeated Class Eight,’ he said

He is heartbroken as his parents have told him repeatedly that they had no money. His two brothers have also dropped out of school. He revealed that initially, his parents owned a number of livestock that were stolen by bandits. His mother fled leaving them with his father. She left after the raid.

With the scarcity of water and pasture, insecurity cases tend to go up as communities fight for the scarce commodity. Elijah Kipton, the headteacher of Kapindasum Primary School in Baringo South said he was forced to move out with the learners in February 2021 due to insecurity. He moved out to Chemorongion primary, seven kilometers away.

Chemorongion Primary School is home to learners from different schools of Arabal, Kasiela, Chebinyiny, Kapindasum.

Parkolo Shariff, the headteacher Ngambo Primary School. [Harun Wathari Standard]

George Okeyo, the Sub-County Director of Education, Baringo South said Marigat has been affected by climate change and insecurity in the past two years.
Okeyo noted that since 2019, insecurity has reigned on a massive scale and initially ten schools were displaced in the Mukutani and Muchongoi areas of Baringo South.

Due to insecurity six schools closed and are yet to be reopened. The schools include Arabal Primary and Secondary Schools, Ngelecha primary, Chebinyiny, Kapindasum Primary and Mukutani Primary.

Ngelecha primary school is closed and those in areas moved to some hills where there are no schools. At Arabal families moved out and the learners are scattered in various schools. Chebinyiny primary learners are hosted at Sosiende primary, while Kapindasum and Kasiela primary learners are at Chemorongion primary.

“Parents want to go back to their homes but they have nothing. The effect of both floods and insecurity means that several children who did well in KCPE could not join high school,” Okeyo said.