Wow!: This is my 500th Report from Kenya.

One of numerous pictures of current flooding in Kenya.


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The long rains in Kenya normally start around the end of March, but this year the rains began at the beginning of March at a torrential rate. It is now two and a half months later and the rains have not yet abetted. Areas of Kenya are getting 50% to 100% more rain than the long-term average. Floods have killed over 150 people and displaced more than 300,000 people and counting. Cattle and other animals have been swept away, crop land flooded, roads and bridges destroyed with many local roads completely impassible, over 100 schools flooded and/or destroyed, and an increase in malaria and water borne diseases. The economic costs of accommodating the displaced, the loss in animals and crops, and the rebuilding of road, bridges, houses, and so on is going to be enormous. The Kenyan Red Cross has asked for 500 million shillings (US$5 million) for relief for those who have been displaced. The local school asked students to raise funds towards this campaign and grand-nephew Griffen received the fund raising form and has already collected about 200 shillings (US$2).

A picture of an illegally, improperly constructed dam in Solai that killed 48 people and destroyed the homes of 500 families over a ten kilometer (6 mile) stretch of the stream. The break in the dam is the V on the left side of the picture.

Normally in Kenya heavy rainfall due to flooding occurs during El Nino years. But this is not an El Nino year. Why then so much rain? The rains in Kenya come from the evaporation of the water in the Indian Ocean to the east of Kenya. This year the temperature of the Indian Ocean near Kenya is 2 degrees centigrade (3.5 degrees Fahrenheit) above the long-term average. The result is that more water evaporates from the ocean and that excess water is pushed over Kenya and the surrounding countries leading to increased rainfall. Therefore as the ocean temperature continues to increase, the prediction is that this excessive rainfall will become more frequent.

Eight latrines that collapsed due to the rains at Lumakanda Township Primary School

One of the rain-induced disasters was when six students fell into a collapsing latrine at a school near Nakuru. Fortunately they were all rescued. Then Monday our two grand-nephews, Griffin and Junior, were sent home from Lumakanda Township Primary School because eight of the latrines at the school collapsed and another four nearby had cracks. These were all girls’ latrines and there are only four other girl latrines still functioning. I went to see the damage and took the pictures you see here. The guard at the school who took me to the site of the damage told me that these were not old latrines but ones built only a few years ago – in other words they had been improperly constructed.

I talked with the principal and she told me that the school has 1439 students and was already short of latrines. In addition to the twelve latrines that need to be replaced, the school needs twenty-eight additional latrines to meet the government standards on number of latrines for the student enrollment at the school.

One of the cracks in a block of four more latrines at the local primary school.

The students will be out of school for two weeks, but I think it will be much longer. Not only does the school have to build the latrines, but first it must collect the funds to do it. By Friday each student is being required to bring 1220/- ($12.20) to the school to finance the building of the replacement latrines. While many of the students will be able to do this, many others will not and they probably will not be allowed to return to school until they do. This is why “free primary education” in Kenya is not really free. I do not know if the education authorities will allow the school to reopen after they have finished twelve more girl latrines or if they are going to require more towards the total of forty that are required. Since the boys will be at home without studying, yesterday I bought standard 4 lesson books in English, math, and science for them to study at home each day.

Fortunately we live near the top of a hill so we are in no danger of flooding. The only damage we have had so far is the fact that our beans did not grow well because beans do not thrive with a lot of rain and the wind in one storm blew down one of our banana trees which has a really nice stalk going on it. The calves enjoyed the banana leaves we gave them as they seemed to consider this a treat.

It seems ironic that there is too much rain this year when last year there was a severe drought. Yet that is what usually happens here in East Africa. The result is a nice “average” rainfall, but the large deviations from the average create havoc.


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David Zarembka

Transforming Community for Social Change (TCSC)

Phone 254 (0)726 590 783
Reports from Kenya: