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Water Scarcity Raises Risk of Cholera Outbreak in South Sudan, Oxfam warns


GOOBJOOG NEWS | RENK: The influx of people fleeing war-torn Sudan is posing a danger of cholera outbreak in neighboring South Sudan with more than 300 people sharing one water tap.

According to Oxfam, over 15,000 people stay in two centres designed to host only 4,750 people and that up to 5,000 more people are living in the open with no access to any clean water or proper hygiene.

The organization says that even prior to the recent conflict, there were 1,027 cases of cholera in South Sudan adding that the rains, together with a lack of proper water or sanitation, increase the risk of diseases outbreak and that currently, 100 people share just one latrine – more than double the minimum standard.

“I just came back from Renk where people are crammed in shelters in horrifying conditions. Many have to queue for hours just to use clean water or a toilet. Without an immediate injection of funds, the situation will explode into a full-blown catastrophe, leaving many more people at risk of diseases and going hungry. The upcoming rainy season in April will cut off major roads hampering vital aid and further limiting people’s transportation to shelters,” Oxfam in South Sudan Country Director, Dr. Manenji Mangundu, said.

The organization further says that over 80% of the population in South Sudan – four out of five people – are already in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and that overlapping crises including five years of floods and conflicts in some parts of the country have already devastated the lives and livelihoods of millions of people.

Bibiana Peter, a mother of five who was forced to flee her home in Sudan and now living in transit centre 2 in Renk, said: “The hunger is unbearable. My children eat only once a day if they are lucky. Their meal is a small bowl of lentils for the entire day, as I watch them suffer from malnutrition. I need to walk deep into the forest for firewood, facing multiple hazards such as snakes and the risk of being attacked. If I’m lucky I sell firewood to buy little food and if not, we sleep hungry and in the open leading to diseases and insecurity.”

Further, Oxfam warns that the upcoming lean season (April to July 2024) will force food stocks to hit their lowest level, compounding the already dire situation for the host community adding that over 7 million people in South Sudan face extreme hunger – including 79,000 facing catastrophic levels of hunger.

This number has increased by 22% percent while people experiencing catastrophic hunger has more than doubled. Despite a surge in the number of people fleeing the conflict in Sudan, and the worsening humanitarian catastrophe, funding has dwindled to an unprecedented low.

The UN appeal for South Sudan in 2023 has been slashed by half compared to previous years. Since the beginning of this year, less than 4% of $1.79 billion UN appeal has been raised. This low level of funding has severely curtailed humanitarian efforts.

 “With major global crises attracting attention, the crisis in South Sudan is forgotten. But the world must not turn a blind eye. We are racing against time but funding cuts at this time are stretching our capacity to the limit and are a recipe for disaster. Every day of delayed action means irreversible harm to a population that already suffered years of devastation and destitution,” added Manenji Oxfam, together with partners, has provided clean water and proper sanitation to over 70,000 people in the transit camps, but urgently needs $7 million to ramp up its operations and reach 400,000 people with lifesaving food, clean water and sanitation.