Tag Archives: clean water

UN refugees in S. Sudan face perfect storm of woe as war drags on

UN refugees in South Sudan carry goods through a waste canal in Bentiu camp, July 13. Photo by Jason Patinkin

When war broke out in South Sudan last December, the United Nations opened its bases to civilians fleeing the violence. That policy has saved tens if not hundreds of thousands of lives, and today more than 100,000 people shelter under peacekeepers’ protection.

But the UN bases are not meant to house large populations for long periods of time – and seven months later, the camps are proving untenable.

This situation is most dire in Bentiu, the capital of oil-producing Unity State, where more than 40,000 people shelter in the UN base in appalling conditions.

In Bentiu, three children under age 5 die every two days from preventable diseases, and more than 250 people have perished since May. Fights break out frequently in the cramped, politically charged quarters. Rains, lack of funds, and insecurity mean aid agencies can’t get supplies in fast enough. The camp is so poorly supplied that civilians must venture outside to forage for firewood, vegetables, or water, risking rape, abduction, and murder by waiting soldiers and mercenaries tied to different ethnic groups. Even the fortified base itself has come under their fire.

But with the war showing no signs of stopping, and UN peacekeepers delayed, civilians have no other option for safe haven in South Sudan.

“My children are sick, we’re living in the flooded area, there are mosquitoes, we are sleeping with no bed, the smell is awful,” says a mother of six named Angelina, whose 1-year-old daughter recently recovered from malnutrition and malaria.  “But if there is no peace, I can’t go out.”  Read more…


Through Illegal Pipes and Shady Cartels, Water Flows Into a Slum

A water hauler with his cart. Photo credit: Jason PatinkinMike Techara wakes up at five o’clock every morning to haul a cart loaded with bright yellow jerrycans of water to dozens of families living on the edge of Kibera. He makes this trip up to five times a day, dragging a heavy load of twenty full twenty-liter jerrycans as far as a kilometer along bumpy roads to his clients. During the low-demand wet season, when people can collect rainwater for washing, he charges ten or fifteen shillings (about nine cents USD) for one can, but in the higher demand dry season, the price shoots up to twenty or thirty shillings, the highest in all of Nairobi. Read more…