Several schools in Coast, Western, Nyanza still closed due to floods

One of the classrooms which was occupied by flood victims at Osodo Primary School in Homa Bay County. [James Omoro, Standard]

Uncertainty surrounds the reopening of hundreds of schools affected by floods.

At least 2,155 schools damaged by floods failed to reopen for a second term on May 13, despite a directive by President William Ruto.

Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu had earlier indicated that most affected schools were in Kisumu, Tana River and Homa Bay counties. He said alternative interventions were being explored to ensure learners do not lose out.

A spot check by The Standard showed some of them are still submerged two weeks after learning resumed. In some areas, flood victims are still camping in some schools raising questions about the government’s commitment to ensure all schools reopen. 

In Busia, at least nine schools are yet to reopen in Budalang’i, two weeks later. They are Maduwa, Runyu, Bulwani, Musaa and Musoma primary schools. Others are Musoma secondary, Budala and Rugunga primary schools which remain inaccessible.

By last week, Modi and Kabuto primary schools were still being used as camping sites by flood victims. Residents of Bunyala South are still reeling from the effects of floods as food and other basic commodities are hard to come.

Faith Oundo, a resident of Mabinju village, said access to basic needs like food is now becoming hard. “Basic needs and health care services are not easy to get here as we still count losses due to floods that have swept our houses and our farms. We fear that the prices may rise due to shortage of supplies and closure of shops,” she said.

In Galole Constituency, Makere Primary School was swept away into River Tana forcing learners to learn under trees. Area MP Said Hiribae said he has sent an appeal for funds to reconstruct Makere, Ndura, Nyangwani primary schools and Chanani and Hola Township secondary schools. 

He estimated that Tana River County would require Sh3.1 billion to rebuild or repair schools damaged by floods. “At least 3,000 students have not reported to schools and those who have reported are learning under deplorable conditions,” he said. 

In Lamu County, Malindi-Lamu road at Gamba in Tana River County was damaged forcing travellers to use boats to cross the flooded stretch. 

Last week, Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen toured the area and said the damage had caused huge losses. Victims of floods camping at Ombaka Primary School in Kisumu County rely on well-wishers for support such as food and personal effects.

They are also forced to share the school with pupils, which is raising concerns among learners and teachers. Western Regional Manager for Rana Auto Selections Stephen Odhiambo donated foodstuffs at the school said victims should be assisted to go back to their homes. He said the victims will fend for themselves if resettled.

“It’s important for us to continue supporting our people here with foodstuffs. However, we need to see how they can get out of this place where they are forced to coexist with learners,” Odhiambo said.

At least 10 people perished in Migori County. Areas worst hit are Nyora, Kabuto, Sere, Angugo, Aneko, Modi, Konyangp and Misiwi in Nyatike Constituency.

Migori County Environment Executive Caleb Opondi said the floods damaged properties and infrastructure, crops, poor school attendance and disrupted learning since schools acted as evacuation centers.

Landslides were also reported in Uriri where farmers were affected and families displaced. Some 500 people were affected in the county according to Mr Opondi.

Although the Coast did not witness heavy rains, key rivers like River Tana and Sabaki River swelled and burst their banks following heavy downpour upstream areas like Nairobi, Central and even Tanzania.

In Taita Taveta, Kilifi, Kwale and Tana River counties, dykes and water canals have either been destroyed or covered with sand.

Malindi Deputy County Commissioner Irene Munyoki said agricultural assets, like irrigation equipment, have been damaged. “The losses are huge. The most affected crops are maize, okra, pigweed, cassava, coconut trees, and tomatoes are underwater,” said Ms Munyoki in a phone interview.

She said irrigation schemes in Garashi, Lukole, Katsangani, Paziani, Goshi, Mongotini, and Madunguni have been destroyed by flooding, sparking fears of a food crisis.

Humanitarian agencies like the Kenya Red Cross Society said more than 29,000 households in Kilifi who engage in subsistence farming have been displaced and their crops destroyed by floods.

Ms Dama Khonde, a resident of Garashi said she lost five acres of maize after the river broke its banks and swept through her farm in Magarini.

“I spent over Sh20,000 to prepare and plant maize on my 5-acre farm in Garashi Village Magarini Sub-County, now it is submerged by the worst floods in a decade in the area,” she said.

In Malindi, Magarni, and Mtwapa, mango, cashew nut, and coconut trees have been damaged by strong winds that swept the Coast, which the meteorological department linked to Cyclone Hidaya. Kilifi Governor Gideon Mung’aro has announced a plan to help those affected by floods. The governor said he has dispatched a team to assess the extent of the damage.

[Reports by Anne Atieno, Clinton Ambujo, Marion Kethi, Renson Mnyamwezi and Jesse Sikali]

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