The Nile Waters: How the most precious God’s gift is becoming costly in Juba City

Posted: March 18, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Economy, Junub Sudan, Thomas Akuith Ngong

The most precious God’s gift is becoming costly in our homeland: The Nile water and its consumption in Juba metropolitan city in our contemporary situation

By Thomas Akuith Ngong, Juba, South Sudan

juba-city-south-sudan

Juba, South Sudan

March 18, 2018 (SSB) — South Sudan, as one of the African countries endowed with the gift of Nile River as one of its key natural resources, is not adequately utilizing the Nile water. The other Nile-sharing countries are the ones having predominant versatile enjoyment. The oil resource has majorly been and is continuing to be the only naturally occurring resource paid political attention in South Sudan’s settings. But since the oil prices have lowered in the global market, South Sudan has faced a relentless economic hardship. That is the path in which we have erred economically and politically.

We should not be solely dependent on oil as the only main contributing source to our gross domestic product (GDP), but also on other available resources such as the Nile, which would equally contribute to our domestic economic growth. South Sudan is a land of great abundance as it is sung in our National Anthem. Other highly lucrative existing natural resources must be extracted and made us of to fill the financial gap. There are resources to do with minerals, wildlife, mountains, rivers and so forth which are negligently abandoned to foreign individuals to prospect and loot without our lookout. The remedy purely needs governmental initiative and lead.

I don’t know if I am the only Juba resident ached by the way the Nile water is being used/sold in a city that hosts over 500, 000 people, countless vehicles, livestock & factories. Majority of inhabitants rely on Nile water supply for domestic uses. There are no sufficient water points available that could help ease daily water burden, especially during dry season. Juba is a city populated by NNGOs and INGOs implementing WASH projects and yet they are not playing formidable roles in water supply and management.

Before I enter my factual explanation of Nile water usage in Juba metropolis, I would like to journey you through a succinct account of how I was affected by water shortage in our residential area in Juba. It was in early January 2017, when there was evanescent fuel crisis in Juba, that an old Ethiopian water vendor brought water to our residential area. I booked and hand-showed him the home. Instead, he ignored me and just quit. As a consequence, I didn’t hesitate to go after him as the condition of water unavailability was not favoring.

Upon reaching to where he stopped his water truck to serve other residential water vendees, I echoed vociferously, boss, I need water in our household! He failed to reply me instantly and after I repeated myself multiple times, he said no water young man in his incoherent Arabic. I visually verified and I found that the tanker was three-quarters full of water. Hence, I re-answered him back that boss, the water is still enough. Despite the fact I called him boss, he just left for the neighbouring households without serving me.

I tirelessly followed him and entered the truck in the front seat. By that time, he was being co-assisted by a certain Equatorian South Sudanese who acted as his technical assistant. I told him again then with my querulous voice that Mr. Vendor, I need water now at our house as it was the only remaining option.  The man insisted audaciously and finally I stopped the tanker and punched him in the cheek with my un-knuckled hand.

The nearby residents came in and offered him help as I stated early that he is an old man. In the end, we spent that particular day without water at home. Now, I realized that these Ethiopian water vendors are operating under special protection from some of our government officials. In addition, they supply water based on the mutual understanding with their respective residential dwellers.

Not only that our Nile water is sold on the basis of a door-to-door appointment as you have seen from my scenario, but it also has an awful lot of problems. Firstly, the water is sold expensively to our indigent local populations depending on distances of the location from the Nile River. Now with the dwindling devaluation of our currency, a water tank containing 250 L, costs between 250 to 300 SSP in Juba.  That means one liter of dirty water is 10 South Sudan Pounds. And the unit price for a full water tank or jerry can is not even fixed Juba wide. Secondly, the water that is bought and consumed carries a lot of disastrous health consequences.

These vendors just collect water anyhow and sell it costly without adhering to water safety guidelines. That is the worst part of visual mismanagement of our own resources.  They are supposed to apply water purification techniques and then sell it for a higher price as they are doing it now. As your patriotic medical student, I may not fail to remind or notify you that, ingestion of un-purified water leads to the acquisition of any of the so-called water-borne illnesses such as Hepatitis A & E, intestinal parasitoses, salmonellosis, guinea worm disease, etc. The cost of treatment and health complications may not be friendly and hospitable.

Thirdly, why is it that nearly 80% of local water vendors are foreigners? I fail to deeply understand the magic behind that undertaking. Does it mean the majority of our South Sudanese business groups don’t like that kind of business? Or do they lack the relevant skills in that field? Or does the water belong to Ethiopians as their government is preparing to build a dam, something that has economic impacts on Egypt? If these questions don’t relate to the logic behind the Nile water business domination by Ethiopians, then why is our own water price becoming seemingly unaffordable?

As you know so far that water is an essential life commodity that physiologically constitutes ~ 60% of human total body weight, then shouldn’t something be done to vitiate this catastrophic problem? I will not talk about chemically made water as it has some technical requirements involving its preparation. Therefore, it has to be expensive because it is clean and safe for human subsistence.

The Nile as the only longest river in Africa has obtained a multiplicity of uses to the countries that are proximal, around and terminal to its points. The so-called Nile basin countries are Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, South Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan and Egypt. The Nile itself or its water is used for domestic purposes, irrigation, riverine transport and military, fishing, hydroelectric power generation, recreation, and tourism. Those are very helpful uses to countries like South Sudan that is around the Nile.

But our concerned ministries are quiescently hesitant of planning and establishing water-related projects that would employ some of our jobless youth. I thought Juba City Council was going to intervene as a municipal body entrusted with the administrative management of Juba, but they are doing little. I am not happy at all about the manner in which our Nile water is being used by “Abbash”.

Conclusively, we have ample natural resources more than our neighbourhoods that claim to be richer than South Sudan. But one unique problem with us is lack of apparent will to extract and export them. This would have boosted and increased our national economy rapidly. I would like to close this article by saying that the Ethiopians who are major water vendors in Juba must be supplanted by South Sudanese and for you who just buy water; you buy from your fellow South Sudanese water vendors so as to change the game.

You know, when you mix an old and a new battery together, the torch won’t light well and longer. So, it is better we buy from our fellow South Sudanese who sell water so that we nullify the old battery and to shine our country.

The writer is a fifth-year Medical Student at the University of Juba and a critically concerned South Sudanese citizen. He currently lives at Jebel Dinka Residential Area in Juba City and is contactable via thomasakuiz88@gmail.com.

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. PaanLuel Wël website (SSB) do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

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