Searching for water was a disaster for three primary school students who drowned in Katita river in Taraka Nithi district yesterday.
Three children, aged 13, 12 and 10, from Gakuyu Primary School in the small town of Kirukuma traveled a few kilometers to the Gituma area looking for water to wash school clothes in preparation for opening school on Monday.
Gituma District Chief Kibaara Muthungu said the three children, one a candidate, were trying to cross the river to wash clothes when they drowned. He said they were four children, but one managed to swim to safety. The other three were pushed into deeper water by the strong current.
The bodies were taken away by the police to the morgue of Marimanti Hospital Level IV.
Residents involved in the search for the bodies, Jared Muce, Munene Kiura and Alex Karani, said the area where the three children drowned was very deep and had rocks that formed a dangerous cave.
“The part of the river where the children drowned is very dangerous and the local people know that, but unfortunately they don’t, because they come from far away,” Mr Muce said.
Josphat Muriungi, Assistant Head of Gituma Sub-location, urged parents to ensure their children are accompanied by adults when they go to the river. Many seasonal rivers flow throughout the year, and people travel several kilometers to fetch water, wash their clothes, and water their livestock in the Katita River or the Tana River.
He said residents of many parts of Taraka Constituency are suffering from water scarcity and hunger and urged the government to provide piped water as a permanent solution.
He said that schools are also expected to suffer due to lack of water and urged the government to find an urgent solution.
“Several permanent and seasonal rivers cover our area, including the Tana River, but people suffer from lack of water near the river at risk of drowning or being attacked by crocodiles or hippos,” Muriungi said.
Data released by the National Drought Management Authority shows that more than 38,517 people in the semi-arid areas of Taraka Constituency are in need of food and water assistance.
According to Tharaka Nithi County Coordinator, about 7,704 families in Gatunga, Chiakariga, Mukothima, Marimanti and Nkondi wards were affected by the drought.