For 2020, the RAGFP is featuring the obstacles to peace in the world’s least peaceful nations. We want to demonstrate what efforts are currently being done to create pathways to peace and the positive peace impact Rotarians can wage in the regions that need it most. Here are the links to our first features on Afghanistan and Syria.
South Sudan, the youngest nation in the world, has suffered from many obstacles, including a 5-year civil war, little economic opportunity, as well as water shortages. In South Sudan, only 55% of people have access to safe drinking water. Due to increased costs of production, water providers in Juba are producing less and charging more, squeezing people’s access to safe water even further. People living in urban areas, particularly in poorer neighborhoods, have been hardest hit. They can no longer afford to buy enough safe water
Two years ago, Emmanuel and Rhoda moved to Gudele, a town on the outskirts of South Sudan’s capital city Juba, with their 5-year-old daughter. “We buy water from the blue water trucks every three days if the trucks come to Gudele. They used to come regularly, but not so much anymore.” Irregularities to the water shipments are due to expensive fuel prices and fuel shortages that happen regularly within the nation. When the trucks don’t arrive, their next option is to fetch water from the untreated water well. “Many people fetch water from there and the lines are always very long. Sometimes you can wait in line for hours and in the end walk away without water because it’s finished.” Locals often cannot afford to treat the water, leaving them vulnerable to disease. (Oxfam)
The 5-year civil war ravaged the nation, killing over 400,000 people and pushed its population to the brink of famine. That conflict nominally ended in September, with South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, and the rebel group led by Riek Machar signing a historic peace deal. However, South Sudan is limping through one of the world’s most severe humanitarian crises. Four million people have been displaced internally or externally, while more than two-thirds of the country, or 7.1 million, rely on aid to survive.
Water and Sanitation Crisis Endangering the Peace in South Sudan After the war, South Sudan’s vital infrastructure had been destroyed. Nearly 80 percent of the country has no access to clean water, but only 41% of the total population is under national water supply coverage. With climate change driving up temperatures, water resources for cattle and agriculture are also in dwindling supply. To survive, families may be forced to drink unsafe water, putting them at risk of waterborne diseases such as cholera and diarrhea, which remain leading causes of death among children in South Sudan. The situation is further aggravated by poor hygiene practices.
The most affected group of population for the water crisis are women and children. Often, they are in charge of fetching water supplies even if it means crossing long and dangerous journeys. Along the way, women risk dying of thirst or hunger, as well as being attacked. Thereby, the water crisis endangers South Sudan’s hard-earned peace.
Alongside the water crisis the sanitation state of South Sudan is very poor. About 63% of the population practices open defecation. Only 11% of the population is under coverage of national sanitation program The poor sanitation practices create serious challenges for hygiene and health for a large population. The water crisis further aggravated the situation. As a result every year thousands of children and adults suffer from water-borne diseases, like cholera and diarrhea. The government is not capable of providing safe sanitation facilities and communities do not have enough resources to practice safe sanitation due to clean water shortages.
Groups taking Action Oxfam runs several water, sanitation, and hygiene programs (WASH) within South Sudan. Throughout Juba, Oxfam is fixing boreholes, supporting effective chlorination of water delivered by water trucks and increasing water treatment infrastructure for bicycle vendors to increase the supply of safe water throughout vulnerable communities. Protection of Civilian (PoC) has a site within a UN base in Juba, where over 28,000 people live in crowded conditions, Oxfam is promoting hygiene education practices, such as hand washing and the cleaning of water storage facilities. Oxfam is also installing handwashing facilities at strategic locations within the site and working with restaurant owners to raise awareness about the importance of using clean treated water for cooking and selling food.
UNICEF and its partners have been working in South Sudan for several years to help the community for improved Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services. In 2019 UNICEF ensured that 463,439 populations are provided with safe water as per standard. 189,124 populations are provided with the standard sanitation facility. 319,349 populations were reached with safe water and sanitation awareness messages.
The initiatives taken by the international and national agencies are insufficient to meet the demand for safe water and sanitation services. Rotarians can play a significant role in improving the water and sanitation situation in South Sudan. Rotarians can work with the local or regional Rotary clubs and take up small-scale projects for the community that focuses on establishing tube wells, water pumps, and water purification plants. The immediate supply of water purification tablets, kits, and the materials for building safe latrines/ urinals are also constantly needed in these communities. However you and your Rotary Club can contribute, the high positive peace impact will benefit these communities in South Sudan to continue their path to peace.
Want to wage peace in South Sudan but don’t know where to start? Take the survey below.