News

    Alcohol a Growing Problem in South Sudan

    One year ago, a peace deal between Sudan's northern Islamist government and southern rebels turned Juba city into the capital of a new autonomous southern Sudan.  Locals say the biggest changes are social freedom and increased trade.  Freedom and trade have also brought cheap beer that has flooded the city's markets, and led to an increase in social problems.

     It is barely noon, but the music is blaring in a small tin-roofed shack in Juba's Custom Market.  There is no electricity in Juba city this day and even government offices are darkened; but there is power here.  The shop owners have a generator.

    They need electricity to keep their stocks of beer cold, and the beer business is steady.  Cheap Ugandan brew is sold to everyone, even to young boys and men who are clearly inebriated.

    With the opening of a trade road between Juba and Yei in the south, Ugandan beer flooded into the city.  Before, suppliers say, the price of beer could be as high as $6 per bottle.  Now it is about $1.

    This is freedom say southerners, who lived under Islamic law called Sharia imposed by the northern government in 1983.  Sharia forbade the consumption of alcohol.  But with the signing of a peace deal in January between southern rebels and the northern government, a tacit agreement was made not to prosecute those who drink.

    Juba is more fun now, say residents, but drunkenness has led to a variety of social problems.  On any given afternoon drunk men and boys stumble down streets.  Some of them are aggressive; many of them are looking for a fight.

    Juba County Commissioner Peter Jerkis says his citizenry is largely traumatized by years of war.  He says alcohol and trauma are a dangerous mix. "This war made many people traumatized, mentally sick," said Mr. Jerkis.  "And so they do not behave the way expected.  We need to come out with counseling programs so they know that war is over.  We are in peace, what they are doing is not good."

    Now, southern Sudanese have to determine how to clamp down on drunkenness without stopping the fun.

    One thing is certain, says Mr. Jerkis, Southern Sudanese are not about to give up their hard-won freedom.  "We are on our way to correct the situation," he added.  "But we are not going to prevent the coming of alcohol to Juba town.  We are not applying Sharia law here.  But they need to be regulated.  We do not want that kind of consumption.  At least we have to say there are times to take alcohol, in the evening after work.  And then also we will have to regulate it to the extent that children will not take (it)."

    But for kids here, alcohol is an escape from bad memories and boredom.

    Pitia Wani, Director of Education for Equatoria State, says alcohol is affecting his schools. "Most of our disciplinary problems in secondary schools have been students getting drunk," he said.  "Most of our secondary schools are surrounded by displaced people, and these internally displaced live on selling alcohol.  Most of our students during breakfast time run for a quick glass or two glasses of beer, and most of the time they come drunk to classes."

    Mr. Wani says a law needs to be passed forbidding children under the age of 18 from drinking.

    Most residents are well aware that there is a problem with alcohol in Juba.  Local government officials say they are trying to start counseling programs and the city's priests now talk of the dangers of alcohol in their sermons.

    On a Sunday after church, men and women flock to a wholesale beer supplier in Juba to buy crates of beer for $20.  The store is being run by two young men who are barely in their 20s. Mogga James says he will do great business, but he says he does not drink.  Asked why not he laughs, and says he is young.  He has his future to think about.

    That attitude is not shared by all in Juba.  Many residents are still used to living one day at a time, as they did during the long civil war.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    NATO to Target Migrant Smugglersi
    X
    Jeff Custer
    February 11, 2016 4:35 PM
    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in the likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of the city. They vow a siege will not be over quickly. But their plans are not being helped by squabbles breaking out among insurgent commanders.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Co-Ed Selective Service Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.