UNICEF calls for urgent back to school in flooded areas in Benin
Cotonou, Benin, 30 November 2010 - The floods that hit two thirds of the country two months ago, has seriously jeopardized children’s education for this school year. To date, only a few schools have resumed academic activity.
The floods have damaged 7.3% of schools in Benin, accounting for 104,415 students at pre-school, primary and secondary school. Even though many schools do not serve as shelters to the homeless anymore, some are still out of reach due to degraded roads, mud or water, particularly in Southern communes.
Children are ferried to school in pirogues or float on makeshift rafts, in hazardous conditions. Classrooms and schoolyards in flooded areas are not considered safe places yet, as the children still run the risk of snakebites and are exposed to various threats.
Continued rainfalls are accentuating the vulnerability of schools usually located on flood-prone land. Apart from difficult access conditions, there is a crucial need for potable water within schools and for food as school canteens are closed.
Therefore, numerous children attend school for half a day or leave their house hungry. Furthermore, in many schools that are no more flooded, basic educational supplies such as schoolbooks were damaged, and cannot be used anymore.
UNICEF is assembling supplies to prepare school kits that will be distributed to 104,415 students in damaged schools. It also committed itself to provide 2,000 kits for teachers to allow them to resume normal academic activities, despite the state of the facilities and roads.
In this difficult situation, parents have made education a high priority and they are making their best to overcome various obstacles, and send their children to school.
"This is very encouraging" UNICEF Representative, Dr. Souleymane Diallo asserted.
"This is why, with our partners we plea for accelerating the return of children to school as the school year officially started on October 4. We have to support the process in order to fulfil the right to education for all children".
In addition to that, UNICEF is advocating with its partners to prioritize the rebuilding of schools among early recovery activities.
The ongoing response to the crisis also includes food, shelters, water, water containers, sanitation facilities and mosquito nets, as water recedes.
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