Via The Guardian, an op-ed by Katrice King of Oxfam: South Sudan: More will die from cholera unless we secure clean water. Excerpt:
“I have no money to continue buying water. I will have to beg from those at the borehole or from the water trucks. Or else, I go back to the village,” a mother of five told me recently.
This is the agonising reality of families I have met in parts of Juba; they are struggling to cope with a worsening water crisis fuelled by the deteriorating economic situation in South Sudan. As a result, the city is now left exposed to the spread of deadly diseases.
Cholera has already claimed 42 lives since May – including seven children – and has infected more than 1,400 people. Most of those affected live in often-crowded conditions in Protection of Civilian (PoC) sites within UN bases, as well as poor neighbourhoods across Juba. Unicef warned in June that up to 5,000 children are at risk of being infected, and I fear that many more people around the city already have the symptoms of cholera, but have yet to receive medical help.
As an engineer, I know that to respond to the cholera outbreak and reduce the suffering of many, we must support and build life-sustaining services, such as safe water supplies and sanitation facilities.
Only 55% of people in South Sudan have access to safe drinking water. Within Juba, water is mostly provided through private sector water trucking, bottled water, a small public piped network, and boreholes.
But the war is devastating the country’s economy and has caused prices to skyrocket; the cost of food and water has increased by 40% since the start of the year and some families have told me they pay twice as much for water than they did just a few months ago. Most of the water people have is used for drinking and cooking, with little left for their personal hygiene.
High fuel costs have effected the production and distribution of water. Fewer vendors can afford to truck water every day, and some water bottling companies have reduced their daily production to just 10%. Others have closed shop altogether. One bicycle water vendor I met at a filling station along the Nile told me that he and most other vendors now eat less as they struggle to make ends meet.
If the water shortages continue, hygiene conditions in the most affected areas will worsen and people will have no alternative but to use unprotected sources such as rivers and open wells, exposing more people to cholera.