Kenya delays schools reopening due to floods

AFP , Monday 29 Apr 2024

Kenya said Monday that it would postpone the reopening of schools by one week due to "ongoing heavy rains" that have triggered deadly floods in the East African nation.

A man swims from a submerged church compound, after the River Tana broke its banks following heavy rains at Mororo, border of Tana River and Garissa counties, North Eastern Kenya, Sunday, April. 28, 2024. AP


Schools were originally scheduled to reopen on Monday, following mid-term holidays, but the torrential monsoon downpours have affected many educational facilities, prompting the education ministry to delay the resumption of classes.

"The devastating effects of the rains in some of the schools is so severe that it will be imprudent to risk the lives of learners and staff before water-tight measures are put in place to ensure adequate safety," Education Minister Ezekiel Machogu said.

"Based on this assessment, the Ministry of Education has resolved to postpone the reopening of all primary and secondary schools by one week, to Monday, May 6, 2024," he said in a statement.

Seventy-six people have lost their lives in Kenya since March, as heavier than usual rains batter East Africa, compounded by the El Nino weather pattern.

Flash floods have submerged roads and neighbourhoods, leading to the displacement of more than 130,000 people across 24,000 households, many of them in the capital Nairobi, according to government figures released on Saturday.

Sixty-four public schools in Nairobi -- nearly a third of the total number -- have been "substantially affected" by the flooding, Belio Kipsang, the principal secretary for education, said Friday.

In eastern Kenya, a boat carrying "a large number of people" capsized on Sunday in flooded Tana River county, the Kenya Red Cross said on X, adding that 23 others had been rescued.

Video footage shared online and broadcast on television showed the crowded boat sinking, with people screaming as onlookers watched in horror.

The monsoons have also wreaked havoc across neighbouring Tanzania, where at least 155 people have been killed in flooding and landslides.

In Burundi, one of the world's poorest countries, around 96,000 people have been displaced by months of relentless rains, the United Nations and the government said this month.

Uganda has also suffered heavy storms that have caused riverbanks to burst, with two deaths confirmed and several hundred villagers displaced.

Late last year, more than 300 people died in rains and floods in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, just as the region was trying to recover from its worst drought in four decades that left millions of people hungry.

El Nino is a naturally occurring climate pattern typically associated with increased heat worldwide, leading to drought in some parts of the world and heavy rains elsewhere.

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