Juba, the capital of South Sudan, is a scruffy place. My God is Juba a scruffy place! It must be home to at least a million people. It has no mains electricity, no piped water, practically no street lighting and only a rudimentary system of rubbish collection. The main source of water for the city is the Nile. There is no water treatment plant, so anyone who can afford it and who doesn’t want dysentery, drinks bore-hole water from plastic bottles. There is, of course, no recycling, so discarded plastic bottles are everywhere. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when the rains start, because there will be thousands upon thousands of plastic bottles washed down into the drainage ditches that will just block up the whole system.
Interesting piece of useless information: 40% of the rubbish collected in Juba is made up of plastic bottles.
At night, people tend to set fire to the piles of rubbish that have accumulated around their houses, so there is fire and smoke all over the place in the early evening. I love the smell of burning plastic in the evening!
Water is delivered to houses and hotels by tanker and when we were in town last week, we saw long lines of these tankers all parked up on both sides of a long road, waiting their turn to fill up from the unlimited waters of the Nile. The tanker water is then pumped into storage tanks on people’s roofs or on the roofs of the hotels and guest houses.
You are warned to be careful not to let the water get into your mouth when you are showering or washing your face, as it is completely un-treated and could contain all sorts of interesting microbes. Those who don’t have the money to install a tank in their houses and buy water from a water tanker, either use a communal water pump or walk down to the Nile with a bucket.
And every morning you will see women sweeping the earth outside their houses to clear away the rubbish. The first time you see this you wonder why they bother, but the fact is that they do.
And in the midst of all this, on a couple of roads leading up to the Memorial to John Garang, the founder of South Sudan, there are the most wizzo solar powered street lights I have ever seen anywhere. Sooper Juba. The lights have found you.