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Heavy rains pour gloom on lives in Kenya's slum children

19 November 2015, 21:30

Nairobi - The little schoolboy in Soweto, a slum on the east of Nairobi, Kenya's capital, held onto the wall of a shanty as he tried to navigate through a spot full of mud water.

It was raining heavily on Tuesday evening and the boy who was from school was determined to reach home about a kilometre away.

He had no umbrella and his books which he stuffed in a nylon bag like him had been rained on. But all that did not deter his quest to reach home.

Tired of holding onto the walls of the shanty, the boy started to walk inside the pool of water. A man, however, shouted at him to stop when he reached a certain point.

Apparently, an electricity wire had fallen inside the water, thus, he was warning the boy to watch-out lest he gets electrocuted. With no money to pay for power connections, residents in the slum, as many others in Nairobi, have illegally connected electricity into their homes.

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This practice becomes dangerous particularly during the rainy season as some of the wires are exposed.

It is one of the dangers that children in slum districts in Kenya are exposed to during this rainy season. The slum children are facing a myriad of challenges that makes life hard for them particularly as the El Nino rains pound Kenya.

From flooded homes and roads to insecurity and hanging electricity wires, it is a tough time being a child in the Kenyan slums.

The Meteorological Department, warned parents not to leave their children unescorted when it rains as flash floods are common, particularly in the poorly built urban settlements.

However, escorting their children to and from school when it is raining is the last thing on most parents' minds as they have to work hard to fend for their children.

"I have warned my boy to be careful when he is going to school or coming home because of the rains. He is in Class Three and he has to take care of his sister who is a class behind him," said mason George Ogola, who lives in Kayole.

Ogola said due to the nature of his work, he cannot monitor his children as they go to and from school when it is raining.

"The school is about a kilometer away and they have to navigate through several shanties and even cross a small river. It is certainly risky for them but mine is to talk to them because I leave home early morning and return late evening," he said, adding that their mother is a fish monger, who starts her business early evening.

Ten-year-old Brian Waweru, a Class Three pupil noted that the rains have made life difficult for them.

"I wish these rains could stop because life is becoming unbearable. Most of the times I am rained since I do not have an umbrella and my mother cannot trust me with one because I lost another," Waweru, who stays with his parents in Mathare slum, said.

Since the rains began late last month, Waweru arrives at school not only late but dirty due to the muddy roads in the slum. Besides, being rained on exposes him to pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.

Social worker Salome Wanjiku, who is based in Mathare, one of Kenya's biggest shantytowns located in Nairobi, noted that rains bring a torrent of misery to residents, particularly children.

"Children are the worst hit. They cannot play, go to school or stay in their houses comfortably because of the rains. Sometimes their houses are flooded or it gets too cold because of the tin walls."

The El Nino rains in Kenya have killed at least 10 people, mainly children, in different parts of the East African Nation, according to the Kenya Red Cross.


- Xinhua


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