Kenya Floods: Damaged Schools , Over 15,000 Children will be Unable to Return to Learning on Monday

Severe floods wreaked havoc on Kenya, submerging or demolishing at least 62 primary schools, rendering over 15,000 children devoid of educational spaces as schools gear up for reopening. Save the Children sounded the alarm about the looming threat of waterborne diseases in the wake of this catastrophe.

A report unveiled by the Ministry of Education illuminated the widespread devastation inflicted upon schools, health facilities, and residences by the relentless floods, which have claimed the lives of over 250 individuals and displaced a staggering 250,000 since mid-March. The deferment of school resumption, undertaken twice to safeguard children’s well-being, underscores the gravity of the situation.

The informal settlements of Nairobi bore the brunt of this calamity, witnessing families lose not only their homes but also their means of sustenance. In Mathare slums alone, over 7,000 people found themselves displaced by the deluge.

The toll on public health is alarming, with approximately 34 cases of cholera already documented along the Tana River. Concerns loom large that this figure might escalate once schools reopen. Furthermore, the assessment has revealed that more than 20,000 toilet facilities have either been submerged or extensively damaged, posing grave health hazards to over 1.5 million schoolchildren nationwide.

The psychological well-being of children has taken a severe hit, compounded by the loss of kin, friends, recreational spaces, and familiar surroundings, thereby exacerbating the risks of child labor, adolescent pregnancies, and premature marriages.

The deluge, exacerbated by the El Niño weather phenomenon, has exacerbated an already dire situation. While some regions grapple with drought, others endure torrential downpours. Children and families, still reeling from the repercussions of drought, find themselves further beleaguered by this climate catastrophe.

Mohamed Abdiladif, Save the Children’s Acting Country Director for Kenya and Madagascar, emphasized the dire ramifications of the floods on children’s rights, calling for concerted efforts to restore normalcy to their lives. The organization is tirelessly deploying life-saving measures, including cash transfers to affected households in Nairobi and Garissa Counties, while appealing for support from various quarters.

Save the Children advocates for a coordinated response to alleviate the plight of affected children and families. A recent analysis by the organization revealed that half of the out-of-school children and adolescents are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis firsthand. The disruptions to education caused by climate-related shocks since 2020 have affected 62 million children and adolescents across 27 countries, leading to profound and enduring consequences for learning.

In response to this crisis, Save the Children is championing a child-centric approach to climate action, emphasizing the need for climate finance to integrate children’s rights, including their right to education, into decision-making processes concerning their future.

The aid agency is actively engaged in providing vital assistance, including cash transfers, as well as distributing hygiene, household, and water treatment kits to affected families. Efforts are also underway to support the resumption of education through the provision of educational materials. Collaborating with the Directorate of Children Services and other partners, Save the Children remains vigilant, offering protection services for children, including hotlines for reporting emergencies and gender-based violence.

At COP28, Save the Children, in partnership with the Green Climate Fund and the Global Partnership for Education, launched a groundbreaking initiative aimed at fortifying schools against the mounting threat of climate-related events, marking a significant step towards safeguarding education.

Having been operational in Kenya since 1950, Save the Children has been instrumental in extending aid to hundreds of thousands of individuals, including a substantial number of children, underscoring its longstanding commitment to the well-being of communities.