Three pupils drown in search of water to wash their uniforms

Kathita River near Marimanti town

Kathita River near Marimanti town, Tharaka Constituency, where three pupils, one a class eight candidate, drowned as they searched for a spot to wash their uniforms.

Photo credit: Alex Njeru | Nation Media Group

The search for water turned tragic for three primary school pupils who drowned in Kathita River in Tharaka Nithi County yesterday.

The three children aged 13, 12 and 10 from Gakuyu Primary School in Kirukuma Sub-Location had travelled for several kilometres to Gituma Sub-Location looking for water to wash their school uniforms in preparation for school reopening on Monday.

Gituma Location chief, Kibaara Muthungu, said the three children, one a class eight candidate were trying to cross the river to a place where they could wash their uniforms when they drowned.

He said they were four children but one managed to swim to safety while the other three were pushed by the strong current into deeper waters.

“The pupils from the neighbouring Kirukuma Sub-Location had comePupils Drown to wash their school uniform and bags when they drowned,” said Mr Muthungu.

He said the boy who cheated death by a whisker raised an alarm and the neighbours rushed to the river but unfortunately, the other three had already lost their lives.

The bodies were picked up by police and taken to Marimanti Level Four Hospital morgue.

Residents, Jared Mucee, Munene Kiura and Alex Karani who participated in the search for the bodies said the place where the three drowned is very deep and has rocks that have formed dangerous caves.

“The part of the river where the children drowned is very dangerous and the locals know that but unfortunately they were not aware because they come from far,” said Mr Mucee.

Gituma Sub Location assistant chief Josphat Muriungi said two of the deceased children were brothers and he urged parents to make sure that children are accompanied by an adult whenever they visit the river.

He said due to the ongoing drought that has hit the region resulting in the drying of most of the seasonal rivers that flow throughout the year, people are traveling for several kilometres to fetch water, wash clothes and water their livestock in either Kathita River or Tana River.

He said residents of many parts of Tharaka constituency are suffering due to lack of water and hunger and urged the government to provide piped water as a permanent solution.

He said schools are also expected to suffer due to lack of water and urged the county government to look for an immediate solution.

“Several permanent and seasonal rivers traverse our region including Tana River but people still suffer from lack of water unless those near rivers who are also at risk of drowning or even attacked by crocodiles or hippopotamus,” said Mr Muriungi.

Data by the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) shows that more than 38,517 people in the semi-arid parts of Tharaka constituency are in serious need of food and water aid.

Tharaka Nithi County NDMA coordinator Kiragu Kariuki told the Nation that approximately 7,704 households in the lower sides of Gatunga, Chiakariga, Mukothima, Marimanti and Nkondi wards are hard hit by the effects of the drought.

“We are currently in the stressed phase of the drought and people and livestock are suffering,” said Mr Kariuki.

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