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.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora