On December 15 2013, in the city of Juba which is the capital of South Sudan, on a pleasant winter evening, shots rang out, marking the beginning of a protracted civil war which continues to devastate the country over a year later. Estimates suggest that to date, nearly 10,000 people have been killed in the fighting, and over two million people have been displaced. The war has also meant that people lack the means to feed themselves because they were unable to plant before the rainy season which means there are no crops to harvest.
An impending food crisis
This means there is an impending food crisis that will affect nearly 6.4 million people in South Sudan during the first three months of 2015. It is estimated that a quarter million children are presently suffering from severe acute malnutrition. This is the worst kind of malnutrition and without treatment, could result in death. Fortunately Concern Worldwide is trying to do something about it.
Concern Worldwide emergency response
Concern Worldwide has been working in South Sudan since 1994, implementing emergency programs. When the civil war began in 2013, the agency immediately responded by trying to meet the needs of those that were displaced. The organisation began work first in Juba and then expanded its program to Bentiu where some of the worst fighting is taking place.
Heavy flooding hampers efforts
The Concern Worldwide team is working at a UN base in Bentiu were nearly 50,000 people have sought refuge. The base is located on a plot of land that was never supposed to house people and during the rainy season, the camp became heavily flooded. This led to the latrines collapsing, forcing people to live knee and even waste deep in raw sewage. People have no choice but to remain however, because the fighting continues unabated around the base.
Concern Worldwide is working to deliver clean water and sanitation in Bentiu. The agency is also distributing emergency supplies and treating malnourished children. In the aftermath of heavy flooding which destroyed the camp’s latrines, Concern launched an interim measure designed to improve sanitation using “PeePoo” bags which are fully biodegradable and self sanitising.
Concern is also working to reduce the impact of flooding in the camp by digging a drainage canal. The agency is also raising the shelters of those who are the most vulnerable. As soon as the dry season returns, Concern teams intend to construct more robust shelters as well as take a number of other measures which are designed to prevent severe flooding.
Relative stability has returned to the city of Juba in recent months, and every month Concern is distributing food to more than 15,000 people who live on a UN base. The agency is also treating those who have been malnourished and are living at the camp. There is still lots of work to do in South Sudan as the fighting in some parts of the country remains fierce. By providing Concern Worldwide with a donation, you could help make a difference.