Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Kenya's swelling lakes disrupt class, push crocodiles into town

Caleb Kemboi at the Thomson Reuters Foundation: At Salabani primary school on the shores of Lake Baringo in western Kenya, teacher Rehema Lewer holds a Swahili lesson under an acacia tree. But the students aren’t outside to enjoy the fresh air - they have been forced by the lake's rising waters to leave their school and move to higher ground.

Over the past two years, Kenya's Rift Valley lakes - the freshwater Lake Baringo and saltwater Lake Bogoria - have experienced unprecedented increases in their water levels, resulting in calamitous flooding that has inundated entire villages. After the latest heavy rainfall in April, the swollen lakes cut off three health centres, several tourist lodges and 10 schools, including Salabani.

"Teaching under the trees is safer," said teacher Lewer. "But it is marred by a lot of challenges." Those include crocodiles.

As the water's edge creeps closer to villages, crocodiles swim further up onto what was once dry land. They can be seen crawling through village streets, and napping outside people's front doors. One resident said crocodiles had eaten her only two goats, while a fisherman said he and his team had already survived several attacks as they tried to work on the lake shore.

"Pupils who come from a distance have to use canoes to reach their schools, so they are prone to crocodile attacks," said Lewer. "This makes it difficult for them to attend classes daily."...

A croc on the banks of the Mara River in Kenya, shot by Lip Kee, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr,  under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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