Kitui County Governor Charity Ngilu has launched mandatory swimming lessons for all the Kitui County residents in an attempt to protect them from current and future rainy seasons.
Speaking after a deadly accident killed more than 20 people when a bus plunged into river Enziu in Nguni, Ngilu said that the rainy season had become a problem for the residents of Kitui County, and the best intervention is to ensure that people know how to swim.
“We have learnt to deal with drought by eating less and using foods that make the stomach bloated. We can deal with poverty by waiting for relief food. However, our people do not know how to deal with too much water. Instead of building bridges along the many seasonal rivers that we have, we should teach people how to swim. This is more sustainable and offers other benefits such as physical fitness.”
Ngilu said that seasonal floods have always killed people every year, and knowing how to swim could be a matter of life and death. “We want our people to be safe in the most economical way possible. A swimming county could also open up opportunities for people to win gold medals at the Olympics. Kitui will be rising from the floods.”
The governor also noted that other countries in Kenya had focused their efforts in building many bridges, an approach that does not add much value to Kenyans. “We already have to many bridges which are only used to help people avoid water. We want an intervention where all people will maintain meaningful interaction with water, has long term benefits, and it is cheaper.”
Already, the County Government of Kitui has advertised tenders for building of 6 Olympic sized swimming pools in each ward. These will be used for the training purposes, as well as water reservoirs for use during the dry seasons. Once constructed, the pools will wait for the next rainy seasonal to fill up with water, after which training will start.
Every resident of Kitui County (except those aged over 79) will be expected to take the swimming lessons within the next two rainy seasons.