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Mauritania: back to school in Rosso!

© UNICEF Mauritania/2010/Conrads
Schools are completely floated in Rosso - Mauritania

Rosso, Mauritania, 19 September 2010- It is end September and in a small village, just a few miles outside of Rosso, Bobo (right) and his friend Mohamed (left) are running around on a schoolyard.

They are playing with their friends, enjoying all together the last week of their vacation. But having fun at this place is quite dangerous and they have to be very careful; because the building they are running around, which used to be Bobo’s school, is completely destroyed…

As every year during the rainy season in August and September, Mauritania also this year suffered heavy rains mostly in the southern region.

Schools completely floated
Especially in Rosso, lots of families have been affected by major floods. Unfortunately, most of the schools are not built to cope with such rain masses.

Hence, during school vacations, the continuous rain has caused significant damages to the school buildings and yards – especially, because the water does not float off.

Some of the biggest and therewith most important schools in Rosso like Satara, Khaled and Taregh are completely floated and the buildings cannot even been entered.

Additionally, the water has destroyed all the latrines and significant parts of the fences that were supposed to assure security to the pupils.

Bobo is not aware of this dramatic situation. "School starts again next week and I am now moving to 2nd grade" he proudly explains.

While he enjoyed his vacation, the rain has also completely destroyed his school. At least it happened during vacation, so when the building of the school called "PK15" collapsed, no one was inside and therefore no child has been injured.

Bobo and Mouhamed want to get back to school
"But as our school building is completely destroyed, I have to go to another school for quite a while I guess…" Bobo adds reflective, looking first at the school building and then to his older friend Mohamed. But Mohamed, who will start his 5th year already, is in an even more difficult situation than Bobo, as he is going downtown to the school Satara, which is completely floated.

© UNICEF Mauritania/2010/Conrads
Bobo and his friend Mouhamed want to get back to school in Rosso-Mauritania

So compared to his friend Mohamed, Bobo is still lucky.

For his class at least a short term solution has been found and he will be able to go back to school – even if he has to travel a bit further than before to another school that has not been affected.

It is not always so easy to find solutions: Downtown in Rosso at the main schools with the current situation – no access to the floated buildings, no security due to missing fences, and no latrines – it is impossible to welcome children back to school – so there are around 4000 children like Mohamed in Rosso that will not be able to return to their primary education classes next week.

The situation is similar in the capital Nouakchott, where also at least 4000 children are being concerned.

The government is now with the help of UNICEF setting up at least the minimum urgency aid: Water pumps are needed to dry out the buildings and yards before sand can be provided for the leveling of the playground.

Last but not least minimum cleaning, disinfection and restoration of latrines need to take place before children can return to their schools – hopefully very soon.

By Sarah Conrads



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