The sorry state of schools as floods leave trail of destruction


Marooned, Burgei Secondary School in Rongai, Nakuru County, on April 5, 2024, after the River Rongai breached its banks flooding into homes and schools due to heavy rains in the area. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Completely marooned school compounds, collapsed buildings, sinking toilets, and damaged roads are some of the sights depicting the state of several schools affected by floods.

The few that are still standing in the regions worst affected by floods have been turned into emergency evacuation centers for hundreds of families displaced from their homes.

So bad is the situation that in some schools in Kisumu and Budalangi, access is only available through the use of canoes and small boats. And it is a treacherous mission that only a few are willing to take as the floods continue to rear their ugly head.

In Kisumu’s Ombaka area, for instance, Oseth Primary School is completely marooned with floods and a worsening backflow of Lake Victoria.

Here, the sounds of snotting hippopotamuses gushing pints of air can be heard in the school’s playground and it is hard to distinguish it from the lake.

Yesterday, spot checks by The Saturday Standard across several schools established that the schools are in a pathetic state and are grappling with collapsed buildings.

Parents fear their status may force their children out of school for several weeks’ even if the situation improves as a result of the heavy trail of destruction.

Damaged infrastructure

In the Coastal region, at least 40 schools in Tana River have been swept away or submerged by floods.

Tana River Sub-County Education Director confirmed that several schools have been flattened by the floods. Others are inaccessible with all classrooms submerged.

Marooned, Burgei Secondary School in Rongai, Nakuru County, on April 5, 2024, after the River Rongai breached its banks flooding into homes and schools due to heavy rains in the area. [Kipsang Joseph,Standard]

The schools are Ashaka, Minhaj, Semikaro secondary schools as well as a host of primary schools.

The infrastructure of the affected schools will require huge financial investment to make them habitable. Parents say, that too, depends on how long it will take for the water levels to reduce.

In the Western region, at least 10 schools are inaccessible in the Budalang’i area after they were submerged by the floods. The affected schools are Namabusi and Budalang’i secondary schools and Musoma, Buluani, Maduwa, Runyu, Makunda, Rugunga, Rwambua and Iranya primary schools.

At Sikinga Primary School in Nambale, 10 classroom roofs were blown off by strong winds, leaving only four in good condition.

Joseph Odongo, a parent at Musoma, said that the situation at the school is dire and is likely to paralyze learning for even longer period.

In Kakamega, Deputy Governor Ayub Savula outlined a comprehensive flood preparedness initiative aimed at mitigating the impact of floods and providing support to affected communities on River Nzoia even as he ordered those living in low lands to move to upper places. “Our initiative encompasses a range of measures, from establishing safe spaces to moving our people and providing them with mental health support,”he said.

Marooned schools

Similarly, in Nyanza, several schools in Kisumu and Homa Bay are inaccessible as a result of the flooding. A few metres from Kisumu’s Central Business District, Nang’a Primary School is partially submerged. 

But it is the Kano region that is worst hit, with more than five schools inaccessible as a result of the floods. Among the schools that are completely inaccessible are Nyamasao and Ombaka primary schools. According to authorities, Ombaka Secondary school is hosting about 209 families. They include those whose homes have been swept away by the destructive floods.

A guard at Mbega Secondary tries to close the school gate as floods marooned homes in Mbega village in Nyando Kisumu. [Michael Mute, Standard]

In the Rift Valley region, several schools are also in a sorry state after the heavy flooding. Several schools and homes have been submerged following heavy downpours in Nakuru County. At Boito Primary School, hundreds of families are seeking shelter at the institution after they were displaced from their homes.

Visoi ward MCA Hellen Chemtai said many families are affected and have nowhere to go apart from the school. Chemtai said Sosiot dam in Mosop ward burst and a nearby river broke its banks releasing water to nearby farms and homes. She said over 89 homes have been submerged in Lengenet alone.

Burgei Primary and Secondary School is also marooned while some of the buildings have been destroyed.

Joseph Lel, a parent, said they wish to have their children in school but due to the prevailing circumstances, it will be difficult. “We would wish to have our children go back to school but the circumstances are hard,” he said.

Joseph Chebukaka, Kuppet organising secretary, Nakuru branch said they are worried about the learners going back to school.

He said River Ndarugu has swollen and children have to cross the river to access learning in over 55 schools adding that most teachers will also opt to leave early to escape the rain.

“We are not ready to open schools and we don’t want the government to make a mistake to open and when children die they close. It doesn’t cost us anything to delay opening to ensure they are safe when going back,” he said.

He said adults have been overwhelmed by the floods an indication child will have a difficult time saying that said for it is a no.

In Nyandarua County, County Commissioner Abdirizak Jardeza assured parents that most of the schools are ready for re-opening.

A report compiled by the County Director of Education said that only those situated in parts of North and South Kinangop whose classes had been submerged by water would be slightly affected.

School-going children in Makueni County head back home after they found their school closed due to ongoing heavy rains that have caused flooding across the country. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

In the Mount Kenya region, several schools are staring at the horrors of costly repairs that await them after the floods destroyed several schools. In many of the schools, access roads have been destroyed while three had their roofs blown off.

In lower Murang’a, access roads to learning institutions have been cut off owing to the flooding of the major rivers originating from Aberdare Forest. Mwana Wi Kiyo in Kakuzi ward is among the schools which by last week access roads from Murang’a and Thika had been blocked due to flooding of the Kabati and Thika rivers.

Yesterday, County Director of Education Annie Kiilu said a majority of the schools face the challenge of sinking toilets owing to the hilly topography.

Dams alert

In Kieni, Nyeri, at least 27 schools are grappling with flooded pit latrines, posing a health hazard. At Meere Primary and JSS, all the pit latrines are full, with excess water overflowing and spreading across the school compound. 

In North Rift, the situation in the schools has been worsened by fresh reports that three dams in Elgeyo Marakwet were on the verge of collapse after developing cracks. A multi-agency team led by County Commissioner John Korir, which was on fact fact-finding mission across the dams in Elgeyo Marakwet, said it is documenting areas that pose risks to residents.

[Report by Julius Chepkwony, James Munyeki, Clinton Ambujo, Robert Amalemba, Peter Ochieng, Martin Ndiema and Benard Sanga]