South Sudan, is not considered to be a water-scarce country. However, civil war and hyperinflation have created a water crisis. To put things in perspective, the cost relative of water to income is six times greater than the internationally recognized five.
Providing clean drinking water in the country is proving hard. Water is available, but facilities and resources to purify it for drinking are lacking. The pipe infrastructure serves just 17% of Juba’s permanent population of about 370,000. The same infrastructure is also in need of repair and upgrading. The rest of the city depends on supplies from almost 700 mostly privately owned water tankers. These have also increased their prices due to the current economic crisis.
According to aid agency Oxfam, in previous years tankers were operating on a profit margin of 45%. These profits have since turned to sharp losses. Oxfam’s water and sanitation adviser Mariana Matoso gives this as the reason why an increasing number of tankers pump water straight from the river. This is preferred to getting it from a treatment plant.
The businesses have since resorted to selling dirty water pumped for free in a bid to survive. Furthermore, the fighting that erupted in Juba last year halted the Japanese-funded project for the city’s water treatment plant.
Rivers and swamps
Many households in Juba have cut their purchases of clean water by half, said Oxfam. This leaves them with less than five litres per person per day. This is less than WHO’s minimum of 20l necessary for basic needs. On the other hand, the cutting back on water has increased the risk of contracting water borne diseases. This is according to Haile Gashaw, water and sanitation specialist for the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF.