Cholera Outbreak Slowly Stabilizes in Southern Juba
JUBA—June 19, 2014— Juba, the capital city of South Sudan, is not an easy city to navigate. While a few of the main roads that connect government buildings are paved and cared for, the vast majority of roads consist of nothing more than dirt and dust. Since July 2011, Juba has undergone the most rapid urban expansion it has ever seen with tremendous population growth and infrastructural development. Unfortunately the expansion, along with the current political conflict, has made Juba one of the most chaotic and disjointed cities in northeast Africa.
These factors have played a role in the cholera outbreak that began just over a month ago in Juba. The city is lacking in vital resources to help keep its population safe and healthy:
“We are aware of the weak infrastructural situation. Only 30% of the population has access to treated water from boreholes and that water travels through old leaky pipes.”
-Peter Mahal Dhieu, Director of Rural Water Supply and Sanitation, Ministry of Electricity
The cholera outbreak is slowly stabilizing, but if the disease spreads past city limits, it could have grave consequences for the rest of South Sudan. Our Cholera Team is now concentrating its efforts in southern Juba where we have implemented neighborhood-wide awareness campaigns about the dangers of cholera. We have also been mapping high-risk zones for contracting cholera, and have held extensive meetings at schools and markets promoting safe hygiene practices.
Creativity is necessary when it comes to spreading awareness about these important issues. Francis, one of our hygiene promotion team members who was tired of giving speaking presentations at his meetings, wrote a cholera-awareness song that he now sings at every community meeting he attends. In our new neighborhoods in southern Juba, we are promoting cholera-prevention tactics. These areas have not been affected by the outbreak as drastically as others, so we are working community leaders to prevent it from becoming a serious threat.
Sadly, Juba is no longer considered the land of opportunity as it was three years ago when independence was first declared. For thousands of poor residents, there are little to no resources for them and food insecurity is rampant—it’s an issue we’ll be reporting on soon. The lack of support for Juba’s poorest residences can be seen on most streets—garbage collection is largely nonexistent. There are no government resources to implement such programs and many streets are becoming dangerously polluted. But even without government assistance, we see community members every day cleaning their neighborhoods on their own—sweeping the roads, collecting trash, and doing what they can to keep public spaces clean and safe for everyone. These communities are passionate about making the most of what they have, and your support helps us work hand-in-hand with them to stop the spread of cholera and provide them with the resources they need.
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