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عربي

Heavy rains block roads, threaten health in Yei County

O. Hannington
While rain is good news for highland farmers, recent downfalls have devastated South Sudan’s Yei County.
28.08.2014  |  Yei
A vehicle stuck in Yei County, South Sudan, August 14, 2006.
A vehicle stuck in Yei County, South Sudan, August 14, 2006.

Forecasts show the extreme weather will continue until late November, threatening infrastructure, homes and the rapid spread of water-borne diseases.

Roads and bridges have been blocked by the heavy rain. Citizens of Sopir, like the other suburbs of Yei town, complain they are cut off. All the three bridges that connect us with town are swept away. And now the rivers burst their banks. It is difficult to cross to the other side,” Abao Margret says.

All the three bridges that connect us with town are swept away.”
Abao Margret
She worries about her seven year old daughter who could drown after rains swell the rivers as she crosses the bridge on her way to school. I wait for her on her way back from school to help her cross the bridge,” she says, adding that any child crossing the bridge on their own could be killed.

Yei town is surrounded by rivers but most of its bridges are in need of repair. The task of fixing them, however, is left to citizens who, Abao says, lack materials that can withstand swollen rivers.

We have always mobilised ourselves to fix Sopir and the other bridges. But they do not last long. The wood is usually swept away during the over flow,” she says. I wish the government would intervene.”

But Bullen Pitiya Abraham, County Area Commissioner for Roads and Bridges, says he was unable to help. Unfortunately there is nothing much I can do in response to the need. I do not have the equipment, money and human resources,” he explains, blaming the war underway in the country since last December.

I do not have the equipment, money and human resources.”
Bullen Pitiya Abraham
He says most of the funds are being directed to fighting the war against rebels, which has displaced more than 1.5 million South Sudanese. This comes at the cost of not being able to maintain and build basic infrastructure, which is sorely needed across the country.

Apart from roads and bridges, latrines and houses have collapsed in the rain and health experts warn the floods might spark an outbreak of water-borne diseases.

Laboratory technician, Judith Lesuwa, runs the local clinic Agape and fears the worst. Faeces from the collapsed latrines are usually carried along by flowing water into the rivers,” she says. This can cause Typhoid fever, dysentery and other diseases.”

Cases of typhoid fever have more than doubled, especially among children, she says.