You have to be brave to go back to school near flooded Lake Baringo.
Many learners didn’t show up even today on second day after schools were reopened.
Some pupils of Loruk Primary School in Baringo North paddled their way in makeshift, leaky canoes to reach their school cut off by floods.
They risk attacks by crocodiles and hippos and their tiny craft could be swamped by waves.
Their school is among 18 affected by the swollen Lake Baringo owing to heavy rains since April.
Other flooded lakes are Bogoria and 94.
This forces some pupils to ride to school in improvised wooden canoes known as kaldich to attend class, Loruk Primary School headteacher Luka Kandie said on Monday.
Some children use motorboats to get to school but the Sh60 fare is unaffordable for most parents.
Kandie said pupils come from Chelelyo, Kiplelchony and Barchar Islands inside flooded Lake Baringo.
“Transport is very risky as young learners face the danger of attacks by fierce crocodiles and hippos. The light boats can capsize in heavy waves,” he said.
He said only 32 pupils out of 318 pupils turned up for class on Monday. Access is the major worry, Kandie said.
“Since the lakes water rose, most families were displaced and moved several kilometres away. This makes it hard for students to get to school and other facilities,” the headteacher said.
He said the learners who used to take five-kilometre shortcuts now must walk 15km around the flooded lakes to reach schools.
A spot check by the Star on Monday indicated more than 5,000 pupils were absent in more than 18 schools.
Late last year the government had promised to allocate funds to relocate the schools and rebuild them on safer grounds. Nothing has been done.
“The classrooms are beginning to crack due to effects of flood water, putting the learners’ lives at high risk in case the shaky structures collapse,” Loruk resident Harun Cherutich said.
The lakes have risen dramatically since April, flooding or submerging schools, health facilities, stores, churches, farms and homesteads.
More than 40,000 residents, including schoolchildren, have been displaced and are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including food, clothing, shelter and medicine.
The affected schools are Katuwit, Loruk, Salabani Secondary, Ng’ambo Girls Secondary, Lake Baringo Mixed Secondary, Ng’ambo, Sintaan, Leswa, Lorok, Loropil, Noosukro, Kiserian, Loruk, Ilng’arua, Ng’enyin, Sokotei and Salabani primary schools.
Loruk Boarding Primary School was partially submerged; the boys’ modern dormitories and latrines were flooded.
Major roads have also been submerged, preventing pupils from reaching their schools on foot.
“We’re trying our best to ensure all our learners report back to school but everywhere including the major highway, the Loruk-Chemolingot road, is submerged,” Kandie said.
Salabani Secondary headteacher Joshua Chemjor said the lake was about five kilometres away from the school last year, but it has now has swallowed up the entire institution.