Environmental Issues Affecting Schools In The Slums

November 16, 2020

Poor drainage, flowing sewage, decomposing garbage, animal and human waste, that is a picture of what the slums look like on a normal day. When it rains, the situation is made worse. The current rainfall has caused havoc in the country. There is a lot of flooding reported in most parts of the county. The farmers are happy, however, because there will be plenty of food harvested which is a welcome relief after the losses they incurred during the corona pandemic as many restaurants shut down, and the demand for farm produce decreased.

In the slums, floods mean misery. The situation is already bad enough on dry days, the wet season just adds to the already pathetic situations. The semi-permanent structures in the slums do little to provide the residents with shelter; the houses made of mud and wattle have gaping holes that make living in them extremely uncomfortable. The schools in and around the slum are made of the same material. They are roofed with iron sheets, but because is highly populated, the schools suffer flooding due to poor drainage. Students are forced to study in the waterlogged classrooms; they do not have an alternative option. The government, despite making promises to upgrade the facilities, fails to do so, and many a politician has been known to garner votes during the campaigns by promising to upgrade the slum schools and health facilities.  Once they get elected, however, it seems nothing changes.

Having students live in this kind of environment can be very frustrating. They already deal with so much strife, studying in such conditions makes their lives very miserable. The cold and wet conditions contribute to diseases. Malaria is a major killer especially to the young children. Stagnant water from the floods create a conducive environment for mosquitoes to breed.

Many of the students we mentor in the various schools come from an informal settlement. They experience better living conditions when they are at school. They eat three meals a day, have adequate beds and beddings, clean bathrooms and toilets; they have security. Overall, their general well-being is better at school than at home. They are lucky to study in schools that are either supported by the church, the government or are privately owned.

During our discussions at Kimuka and Njabini schools this past week, we reminded the girls to look at the positive situations in their lives and be grateful instead of dwelling only on the negative. There is so much to be thankful for, and they all agreed. Life at school may not be all they would like, but the fruits will be sweeter if they focus on the positive and have a good attitude towards life. Things are not as bad as they see them; they could be the unfortunate students studying in waterlogged classrooms, having to cross swollen rivers infested with crocodiles and snakes, but they have a better lot.

Students in a waterlogged makeshift classroom.

A slum submerged in water

Current situation in many rural areas in Kenya

A man carries his goat to safety as he crosses a swollen river due to flooding.

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