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Widespread flooding and deadly landslides damage schools in KwaZulu-Natal

Mr S.V. Malinga – NATU Acting President

A flooded classroom at Brentwood High School in Durban. Structural defects, broken windows, drainage system blocked and furniture badly destroyed by floods.

The National Teachers’ Union wishes to express her deepest sympathy to families, friends and all who are affected by the torrential monsoon rains, widespread flooding and deadly landslides in the Province of KwaZulu-Natal. Over 320000 learners are estimated to be impacted and in urgent need of our support. 448 people have died and others are still missing. NATU has noted the report indicating that 630 schools are affected, 101 are not accessible, 57 learners deceased, 5 learners missing, 1 educator deceased, and 1 food handler deceased.

NATU has sent her delegation to join those who are on the ground working close with government officials and humanitarian associations to scale up its responses and support to the immediate needs of the affected children and their families. Many areas remain inaccessible due to damaged roads and bridges. The most urgent need for children is clean water, hygiene supplies to prevent the spread of diseases, food supplies and safe places in evacuation centres for children to play. This situation is devastating and it has a potential to produce high levels of stress and anxiety, therefore we request our government to provide mechanisms for the victims to rebuild their lives through the provision of psycho-social support interventions.

As part of NATU’s immediate response, we shall consider the needs assessment report and pronounce on the next course of action. Approach will focus on immediate needs of families and vulnerable children, provision of teaching and learning materials, repair of damaged physical structures, procurement of tools and machines that can assist in ensuring that teaching and learning continues without hindrances. Although we are a non-profit organisation we believe that there is something we can do to lend a hand to those who are in need. NATU wishes to request all her members, social partners, and the public at large to play a role in providing assistance to the victims of these devastating floods, through donations and working together with humanitarian organisations.

As NATU we are noting the large impact of these floods on livelihoods caused by the destruction of homes, therefore transitional shelter programme is very important for re-building livelihoods. Other factors that impact livelihoods include environmental changes and changed opportunities. Our country and the world continue to experience a growing number of floods which negatively impact on human life, driven by:

  • Changes to catchment (such as deforestation or urbanisation) that lead to increased runoff;
  • Population growth in areas at risk of flooding;
  • Climate change, which increases the variability and severity of weather, such as record-breaking rainfall and possibly more severe tropical cyclones.

We are praying for healing and mercy to all those who are grieving as a result of this devastation. Praying for those who are injured, who have lost their homes and livelihoods. We pray for wisdom and safety for those who are responding to the people in need and many challenges left in the wake of the event. May we all work together in our quest to defeat climate change.