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 On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid