Caught in the storm of climate change, school in Baringo South facing closure

School facing closure
Everline Keter from Education Ministry (in specs) HM Japhet Kimuge (Centre) and Gilbert Maggut of Nema (in specs) brainstorm about the future of Chelaba Primary school

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Baringo County Director for National Environment Management Authority (Nema) Gilbert Magut has warned that unchecked mismanagement of Wetlands and water sources in the county will adversely affect the availability of water for all in the near future.

“The swamp near Lake Bogoria is a natural Kidney that not only cleanses the water but also stores and protects the water.

The swamp must be jealously protected because all over the world, clean water is becoming scarce mainly because of the effects of climate change.

Very few people can afford to buy bottled water” Nema boss revealed.

Under this discussion, it is noted that the communities living around Lake Bogoria or neighboring the swamps should consider that too many ‘human development activities’, however well the intention led to the death of Kesubo swamp.

For that reason, Lorwai/ Kiborgoch/ Kapkuikui swamp may eventually suffer the same fate.

Maggut was addressing the management board of Chelaba primary school near Lake Bogoria, to discuss the future of the institution built on a wetland, the vast Kapkui kui -Lorwai or Kiborgoch swamp.

The school with a population of 151 pupils is not only seating on a wetland but on a 12-acre wildlife corridor.

The establishment of the semi-permanent institution has sparked serious protests from local Environmental activists, mainly drawn from the vocal Endorois Welfare Council (EWC).

The activists are keen to have the institution relocated, away from the wetland that is not only home to many species of wading birds, but the pythons and countless zebras.

The wetland is also hosting a natural salt lick.

The Council through Wilson Kipkazi and Richard Kamworor launched a complaint to the Government authorities, concerned that the institution will negatively impact the safety of water draining into the swamp, pointing out that fecal matter can easily drain into the swamp and poison the water.

Joyce Chepkurui, a public health officer based in Baringo South was present during the stormy meeting and fully supported the concerns raised by the Endorois Welfare Council.

“It is time to discuss and weigh the benefits of a child’s right to education, and safeguarding the future of humanity.

The swamp must be protected at whatever costs” Endorois Welfare Council told the charged meeting.

The school head teacher, Mr. Japhet Kimuge was very emotional over the possibility of shutting down or relocating the institution due to environmental concerns.

In the Kalenjin language, Chelaba means giver of light, and therefore, the school is considered a source of light by the host community.

The head teacher pointed out that without Chelaba Primary School, many children from poor families will not access education.

He said because of climate change leading to the rise of waters in the lakes within Baringo South, many schools now seat on wetlands and wondered why his school has been singled out for ‘persecution’.

Mr. Kimuge revealed that because of overpopulation in the neighboring schools, his institution is attracting more pupils because modern parents understand that with few pupils per class, their children can easily get the attention they deserve from their class teacher.

Online scholarly articles point out that rapid population growth worsens the impacts of climate change by straining resources and thus, exposing more people to climate-related risks, and this is more prevalent in low-resource regions.

According to Sammy Chepkuto, board chair of Chelaba primary school, the school started as an ECD center in a village called Mborong. That is way back in the year 2006. In the year 2012, the community moved away from the private land hosting the ECD, and settled on the present location not only because it is regarded as a public utility, but as the only way to fight off potential land grabbers!

Because of the rigid land adjudication process in the county Government of Baringo, homegrown land grabbers are taking advantage of the loopholes and circumventing the law in registering and transferring various lands into their ownership.

“Chelaba Primary School is not only giving knowledge to our children but is also acting as a shield against powerful cartels.

Every time of the day in Chelaba, land grabbers who are keen to invest in the Hotel industry stop near the school with their fuel guzzlers.

They hover all around Lake Bogoria, ready to lay claim to any unutilized, or underutilized community Land” Joseph Kipteroi, a community leader told the meeting.

Everline Keter, representing the Marigat Sub-County Director of Education said her Ministry is concerned about the future of Chelaba Primary School, and especially the right of every child to access basic education.

She pointed out that her office will deeply look into the matter and reach an amicable solution. The school is operating using a temporary certificate and already, the teachers service Commission has posted three teachers.

The meeting was also attended by local assistant chief Mr. Dennis Rotich of Chelaba Sub-Location.

By Jeremiah Chamakany

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