Archive for the month “February, 2013”

Sooper Juba. Lights are Going to Find You.

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.


Relaxing on the Banks of the Nile at Juba.

Relaxing on the Banks of the Nile at Juba.

It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it!

The Poor Children in Africa. They have Nothing!

On our last day in Juba at the end of the VSO conference, Linda and I decided to treat ourselves to lunch at one of the hotels that has been built right on the bank of the Nile.  The Hotel is nothing special, a series of fairly scruffy-looking chalets built under trees, but, the whole site is a wi-fi hot-spot, the food is good and the setting is beautiful.  As you sit in the restaurant, the River Nile, about 400 yards wide, flows steadily past on its way to the Mediterranean, a couple of thousand miles to the north.

Next to the hotel there is a village and, as Linda and I sat catching up on our emails and waiting for lunch, we could see the kids from the village just having a wonderful time leaping off the bank into the water, using yellow plastic gerricans as flotation aids, and not in the least bit worried about being swept away in the fast flowing water, the chance of contracting bilharzia or the possibility of being eaten by crocodiles, which are known to live on the edge of the river.

Just in front of us, a couple of urchins swam to the bank and clambered up into the shade of one of the trees.  They were technically on hotel property and if the security staff had seen them, they would have been chased off, but these kids are not afraid of crocodiles, so the occasional security guard, who probably can’t swim, isn’t going to worry them.  And why did they come ashore?  Well, the tree beneath which they were sitting was a mango tree and they had spotted the fallen ripe mangoes.  What a life! Unlimited sunshine, a huge river to play in, trees to climb and free, fresh  mangoes there for the taking.  Does life get any better?

At one point, a group of boys, braving the strong current, swam out to a little island in the middle of the river and occupied it like a tiny invading army of stark naked, dripping wet commandos, whooping and yelling in exhilaration, as they claimed their newly won territory.

Poor kids.   They have nothing.

A Simple ‘Tukul’.

A Simple 'Tukul'.

Most of the people around here live in houses built to this traditional design. Not much has changed in the last 1000 years.

T-Shirt of the Week # 9

T-Shirt of the Week  # 9

Does this ‘gross you out’ as much as it did with Linda?

Meet ‘The New Nation’.

Meet 'The New Nation'.

A remarkably good newspaper that comes out every two weeks and keeps everyone up to date on what is going on.
The Addis talks were the latest in a series of meetings between the Presidents of South Sudan and Sudan to try to agree on the conditions for re-starting oil production.
Oil revenue accounts for over 95% of South Sudan’s national income. For the past year, nothing has been flowing through the pipelines, which means that the Government has no money to do anything.

Some Days are Bad Days.

Some Days are Bad Days.

This was the incident that I mentioned in last week’s blog entry, when Linda was sitting at the airport listening to the fighting. The Governor has now been replaced by an Army General and, so far, things remain calm.

What Everyone Needs to Know.

What Everyone Needs to Know.

You never know when random knowledge will come in handy.

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