02 May 2015

Drinking Water Crisis in South Sudan

Last week in South Sudan, drinking water supply came into crisis. The capital city, Juba, provides no safe public sources of drinking water. Residents rely on bottled water. However, bottled water companies have come under pressure to be able to purchase the material, which they import, to make the bottled water. The rising value of the US dollar plus ongoing internal governance problems in the fledgling country are the reasons given for bottled water companies shutting down. There may only be two bottled water companies still operating. As a result, there are bottled water shortages.

In the shops, the last of the supplies are being sold. Shopkeepers are rationing what is left. People are resorting to drinking Nile River water, which is not hygienic or safe. There are tanker trucks pumping Nile River water to serve the citizens, but the rising cost of the US dollar has caused a shortage of fuel, which is all imported, so there are sections of the population that will not be served by this method at all. Even though unsafe, humans cannot go more than 3 or 4 days without water.

South Sudan is under pressure from the UN to stop fighting and get it together, or else there will be sanctions. This happend just hours ago. 

Thanks UN - yet another example of how absolutely removed the organization is from reality. We have witnessed the result of sanctions over and over again - and it hurts common people, while doing little to rattle the chains of the power hungry who are more concerned with securing their own place in history, rather than taking care of the country they want power over. In other words, the leaders. But this is just my opinion and that is why I put it in italics.

Getting water to citizens is a critical, but difficult situation for a fractured government and a brand new country. This is not just a problem in Juba with the current bottled water crisis. This is something experienced in other parts of the new South Sudan, such as in Pibor. Refugees fleeing the ongoing fighting in Sudan and South Sudan - a war that has been going on and on and on for more than 30 years - are numbering in the hundreds of thousands. An estimated 260,000 Sudanese have fled to South Sudan as refugees, while an estimated 200,000 South Sudanese have fled to Ethiopia as refugees!

Water security in South Sudan is in crisis.

Human security in South Sudan (and Sudan) is in ongoing crisis.

This situation with water shortages has happened in other insecure and war-torn places. Water security, as understood by the scholars, has very little to say about crisis events and insecure conflict zones. Solutions are few. The International Red Cross is one of the few actors on the international community scene that enter a country in crisis and attempt to solve the water security issues in cities and villages without safe access. However, the water security issue is still not coordinated by the international community in a transparent way. and people resort to river water in places where those same rivers serve as places for bathing, washing, feeding cattle, and dumping wastewater. There must be another way.

In Iraq today, water supplies are threatened by shortages, drought, mismanagement, and occupation by this ISIS crew. ISIS has taken much of the territories where wheat is grown and eyes the water supplies that are already insecure in Iraq due to upstream neighbors in Turkey. In 2007, Iraqis were bemoaning the collapsed government, and tanker trucks were using the Tigris-Euphrates rivers for drinking water supply distribution. This UN page illustrates the progressive water issues over time, since the US invaded Iraq in 2003.