20th April 2019
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S.Sudanese have no access to clean water since 2005

Author: Emmanuel Joseph Akile | Published: 4 weeks ago

A mother returns home after fetching dirty water from the nearby stream. Photo: GlobalGiving

Members of the public say they still do not have access to clean drinking water, since the establishment of the government in South Sudan 13 years ago.

The concerns come on the World Water Day, today.

According to the UN, billions of people -worldwide -are still living without safe water – their households, schools, workplaces, farms, and factories are struggling to survive and thrive.

Marginalized groups such as women, children, refugees, indigenous peoples, disabled people and many others – are often overlooked, and sometimes face discrimination, as they try to access and manage the safe water they need.

In South Sudan, drinking contaminated water is said to be responsible for more than 5,500 reported cases of cholera in the past years.

Limited access to water and sanitation has also contributed to poor child health – a third of children under the age of five suffer from diarrhea, as well as a source of much of the internal conflicts between communities, according to UNICEF.

OXFAM reports that people living in urban areas are not spared from the lack of clean drinking water. It notes that people can “no longer afford to buy enough safe water, and those who still can afford it, now spend twice as much as they did [before].”

“Putting food on the table becomes the priority. Buying safe water often and quite understandably takes second place,” OXFAM said in a 2015 report.

Some Eye Radio listeners -especially in Juba and Aweil say they buy unpurified water from water dealers.

One resident in Aweil says they continue to drink polluted water because the price of chlorine used to purify water is unaffordable.

“We are using river water, but contaminated. Even the chlorine for water here is very expensive. We don’t have clean water here where I live. We don’t have clean water,” said a resident of Mudiria in Aweil town.

In Juba, water for home use is supplied by commercial tankers, who either fetch directly from the Nile river, or from a purified point. The water is then sold to the residents at a price determined by the existence of fuel in the country, and the distance from the river point to the residential area. When fuel becomes scarce, water prices shoot up.

“We are using salty-water, and sometimes when you drink this water, you spit immediately because of the taste. They bring this water sometimes directly from the river, it is causing us diseases such as Cholera,” said a resident of Jebel Dinka at the suburb of Juba.

The government in 2012 signed a cooperation agreement with Japan to help supply piped clean-drinking water to residents of Juba. That project was suspended after violence resumed in Juba in 2016.

But this resident believes it is the sole responsibility of the government of South Sudan to invest in the water sector -owing to the abundance of the Nile river waters passing through Juba, and most towns across South Sudan.

“God has given us the Nile, we are supposed to make good use of this water. Our government should have provided clean drinking water to its citizens,” said another resident in Juba.

Before the 2013 conflict, towns like Wau became among the first to supply clean drinking water to its residents.

Japan recently expressed willingness to resume its suspended projects, which also includes the construction of the Freedom Bridge along the Nile river in Juba.

The World Water Day is being celebrated under the theme: “leaving no one behind.”

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