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Displaced people in Unity state at risk of catching cholera due to open defecation

By Chondok Stephen Magei

Hundreds of internally displaced people (IDPs) in several temporary makeshift camps of Unity State are increasingly at risk of catching communicable diseases such as the deadly cholera due to open defecation.

Dr. Santo Malkal Kuol Ngundeng, Rubkona County health official  disclosed those (IDPs) at most risk are living in Bimruor IDP camp in Rubkona town, and Kuerboni IDP camp located in Bentiu town.

 “Lack of communal latrines in newly set up flooded IDP camps has resulted to serious practice of open defecation which puts the population at risk of catching cholera, and diarrhea,” he told Juba Echo in Bentiu on Tuesday.

Unity State is among the most flooded regions in South Sudan since May last year, when the worst-floods-in-decades were reported by the United Nations Office for Cordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Over 800,000 people were affected by heavy flooding, uprooting them from their homes, thus worsening the already dire food insecurity in these parts of the country.

Kuol revealed that people living in seven counties of Unity state are at risk of catching cholera due to open defecation.

In March, Humanitarian WASH partner Concern Worldwide conducted an awareness campaign on open defecation by digging 60 latrines in a bid to minimize the risks of open defecations.

Kuol said the aim of the campaign was to minimize the risks of cholera outbreak and diarrhoea.

“Construction of latrines will be the only way to limit the outbreak of cholera and high practice of open defecation. We have to know prevention is better than cure, as we all know many children and elderly people suffer from diarrhea linked with open defecation,” added Kuol.

Latrine coverage in Unity State is limited because many latrines have been washed away by floods.

Nyariaka Kuol Jal, 42 –year-old displaced person in Bimruor camp, said the lack of latrines has increased the risk of contracting diseases in the flooded IDP camp.

We are in poor condition as you see many children are now defecating in undesigned areas, this is because we have no single latrines,” said Jal.

 “Water is also polluted because some people defecate in the flooded areas, MSF is trying to conduct some WASH activities, but just cleaning the nearest parts of the camp,” Jal disclosed.

Nyagany Juan Chuol, a 54-year-old woman living in Kuerboni IDP camp, said that many people in the camp openly defecate which puts her and others at risk of getting sick.

She said she fears for the health of her 9-months old baby who was treated recently for acute diarrhea in Bentiu State Hospital.

Chuol said she is wary of her baby contracting another disease, due to the exorbitant medical expenses she has to meet to treat the baby.

“My baby has recovered from diarrhea after four days admission in Bentiu hospital for treatment,” she said.

“She suffered from diarrhoea, and it was because of open defecation which caused poor hygiene in the camp,” added Chuol.

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