Concerns as floods crisis hits Monday's reopening

Oseth Primary School in Agoro village, Nyando, is submerged. [Michael Mute, Standard]

A section of parents has raised concerns over the state of several schools ahead of planned reopening scheduled for Monday.

While several schools are still operating as rescue camps for hundreds of families displaced by floods, others are inaccessible and marooned.

In Rift Valley and Central regions, swollen rivers and cracks on roads have made the journey to some schools a potential death trap.

On Thursday, the situation worsened in Kilifi County after a cholera outbreak in one school acting as a camp for internally displaced families in Magarini.

And a humanitarian crisis was developing in Kisumu’s Nyando area, where several schools are now shelters for displaced families.

Several schools are only accessible through a boat. It took The Standard Group crew more than 40 minutes to access Oseth Primary School using a boat and the state of the institution is pathetic.

All classrooms have been submerged while desks can hardly be seen in the waters that are almost reaching the roofs of some classrooms. Similarly, Odienya and Nyamrundu primary schools are inaccessible.

On Thursday, parents of four primary schools said they had received reports from authorities to relocate their children to other schools in far-flung areas not affected by floods.

“What they are suggesting is not possible. The schools are only accessible through a boat and you have to pay Sh100 per child for a one-way trip. It is expensive and not workable,” said Joseph Ouko, a parent.

Meanwhile, at least 17 cases of severe diarrhoea have been reported at a camp holding internally displaced persons at Karamboni Primary School in Kilifi.

The school is holding hundreds of IDPs whose homes were destroyed by floods after River Sabaki swelled and burst its banks due to heavy rains upstream. Kilifi’s Disaster Management County Executive Committee (CEC), Ms Ruth Masha, said more than 1, 299 families were displaced in Malindi and Magarini by the floods.

Yesterday, fears of an outbreak of waterborne diseases swept Kilifi County after 17 people, including children, reported severe cases of diarrhea, stomach pains, vomiting, and high fever.

County Health Executive Committee member (CEC), Peter Mwarogo, said that in the last 24 hours, 15 people were rushed to hospitals with similar symptoms.

‘’Within 24 hours, 15 cases of diarrhoea have been reported and treated in the area. In the morning, we had two similar cases,” said Mwarogo in a phone interview.

Mr Mwarogo urged locals to remain vigilant against waterborne diseases in Kilifi, where destroyed latrines pose a risk during floods.

The CEC said the lack of clean drinking water poses a big threat to the health of flood victims, worsening the condition at the camps. ‘’Because of the floods, the drinking water has been contaminated,” said Mwarogo, who denied reports of an outbreak of cholera in Kilifi. 

Health workers said the problem originated from the contaminated water used at the camps. Kilifi County Kenya Red Cross Coordinator Kawthar Mohammed said they were providing quick treatment and distribution of water tablets to displaced families. ‘’Yesterday, we distributed water treatment tablets to 600 households in Magarini Sub County. We have established medical outreach in Garashi and Bate to assess the situation,” she said.

Parents in Budalang’i, Busia County, are worried about the appalling state of schools affected by floods. Raging floods and backflow from Lake Victoria have rendered at least 12 schools inaccessible.

Florah Oundo, a parent camping at Malomba rescue camp, said the government must come out clear on how it expects learners to access submerged schools.

“Most schools in Bunyala South are completely submerged, and there is no way learners and teachers will access them. The government has to offer a solution on how students will access the schools and how learning will take place under such deplorable conditions,” she said.

Paul Odongo, a parent, said Musoma and Namabusi secondary schools are not accessible. “The schools are marooned, and some classes are full with water. Access roads are not available,” he said.

[Report by Clinton Ambujo, Jesse Sikali and Marion Kithii]

Busia Kenya Red Cross society coordinator Patrick Lwango said they are offering psychosocial support to parents and students ahead of schools reopening next week.

“Efforts to evacuate those in distress situations are also in place,” said Mr Lwango.

[Report by Clinton Ambujo, Jesse Sikali and Marion Kithii]