Carla Fibla Garcia-Sala is currently serving as our communications officer in South Sudan, reporting on the humanitarian crisis and our response.
To Combat Cholera, Community and Humanitarians Unite
JUBA—June 12, 2014— The Action Against Hunger Cholera Emergency Response Team is working in the Tongping, Amarat, Gonya, and Ministries neighborhoods of South Sudan’s capital, Juba; these are four neighborhoods where cholera is present.
The latest report from the Ministry of Health indicates that there have been 1,500 diagnosed cases of cholera and 31 deaths since the outbreak began. Although cases of the disease are projected to remain in coming weeks, our Emergency Response Team and local volunteers have come together to help control the outbreak. Our team meets daily in the local Quarter Council’s office—a simple building made of wood, broken bricks, stones and mud. Hosting neighborhood training courses on proper hygiene, weekly meetings to share concerns and develop strategies to enhance our effectiveness on the ground, and daily updates on the status of the outbreak, this humble structure has become the home base for our vital efforts to stop cholera from spreading any further.
Trust and confidence are crucial in our outbreak response, and we are working hand in hand with local council members to ensure that everyone is aware of our role in the area. Christine Yada, a local science teacher and proud Juba City Council member, is spearheading our community outreach efforts and helping find solutions for many of the local challenges. Always looking to help those in her community, she is quick to remind families she meets that the cholera outbreak is a serious risk, and that there are simple precautions they can take to avoid illness.
Kumi Tobiolas, our Deputy Program Manager for our emergency response, works closely with Christine to coordinate our many hygiene promotion activities in schools, markets, restaurants and households in the area. Kumi understands the needs of his community and recognizes the importance of creating sustainable solutions to the challenges South Sudan faces.
“This is my community. It’s important for me to get involved and try to stop this disease from spreading any further. We must also work with government officials to create a system in which we can be self-reliant and continue the progress we have made on our own, as a community.”
—Kumi Tobiolas, Water, Sanitation & Hygiene Deputy Program Manager, in Juba
Our Emergency Team, consisting of 17 people, is fully operational and has started a mass hygiene promotion campaign in the area. After training 44 volunteers on cholera prevention strategies and community messaging, these volunteers visited high-risk areas and held community-wide awareness campaigns to ensure that people were taking steps to protect themselves from the outbreak. With the help of crucial community members like Christine and Kumi, our team will continue to promote these practices and conduct detailed assessments of at-risk neighborhoods to determine how to tackle the many risk factors in this outbreak.
Download the PDF: ACF USA Statement 06 12 14
Editor's Note: For more information on the area of Tongping and our work there, watch the interview below with Roberto Arranz, Emergency WASH Coordinator based in Juba.