News / Africa

Oxfam: Rainy Season Could Worsen Water Crisis in South Sudan

At the Jamam refugee camp, shows people gathering water at a man-made water hole, in South Sudan's Upper Nile state, where over 100,000 refugees have fled conflict in Sudan's Blue Nile state since September, June 15, 2012.
At the Jamam refugee camp, shows people gathering water at a man-made water hole, in South Sudan's Upper Nile state, where over 100,000 refugees have fled conflict in Sudan's Blue Nile state since September, June 15, 2012.
Gabe Joselow
NAIROBI - Refugees at camps in South Sudan are suffering from dehydration, diarrhea and other health complications due to a lack of drinking water.   The coming rainy season should be a relief, international aid agencies say the rains actually could make the situation worse.

Escaping danger

The United Nations refugee agency says 35,000 refugees have arrived in South Sudan's Unity State in the last month.  Mostly from Blue Nile state in Sudan, many have walked for days to escape fighting between Sudanese armed forces and a rebel group aligned with South Sudan - the SPLM-North.

Humanitarian agencies are scrambling to provide housing, food and medical assistance for the new arrivals before the rainy season begins in the coming weeks.

High demand for clean water

The humanitarian coordinator for the aid agency Oxfam in South Sudan, Pauline Ballaman, says one of the biggest challenges has been supplying water. “What we have seen in the last month of May are additional new arrivals and their health conditions are very, very poor and in fact some people, when they got to the transit site in Hofra, the medical services there have seen people dying from dehydration and from lack of water,” he said.

Conditions are especially dire at the Jamam refugee camp in Upper Nile state, home to more than 31,000 refugees.  Workers there are struggling to find new water sources as existing boreholes and wells are tapped out.

Water rationing

Ballaman says they have been able to provide about seven liters of water per person per day, which is less than half the amount aid agencies recommend for basic cooking, drinking and hygiene.

While the upcoming rainy season may seem like a blessing, Ballaman says the rain will likely do more harm than good. “The other challenge that we are facing is that most of this [water] is being taken to the camps through water trucking," he stated. "And once it starts to rain, there may be more rainwater available, but the trucks will not be able to move around so easily.”

Untreated rainwater, spread of disease

Ballaman also notes collected rainwater still needs to be treated to stop the spread of waterborne diseases.

UNHCR moved some 5,000 refugees to another camp in May to help relieve the pressure on water supplies in Jamam.  But that camp, called Yusuf Batil, has also experienced water shortages, and some of the refugees have been relocated to temporary transit sites to wait for another alternative.

You May Like

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid