Community Advocacy on Environmental and Social Justice

Friday, 20 February 2015

Tragedy of White Nile River: Politics,Land,Climate Change in South Sudan.

By: Gabriel Makuei Tor, JUBA, 

The natural resources in South Sudan (S.S.) have been defiled, so stop 
singing the “virgin land” song, like “a baby nation” clause in the 
mouths of S.S. corrupted officials. In our times when we were kids, 
way before 2nd civil war kicked in between South and North Sudan, over 
30 years ago, there were rare cases of sickness and natural death. 

Though we were drinking right direct from the rivers and rain waters, 
we still remained healthy than a kid living on the same today, but 
those days were true in their own style than these days! 

So what happened? What has changed? To answer these questions, you may 
have your own answers but let’s read through here below: 

You heard of the climate change; the religion of the 21st century. 
That everything we use has an effect and limitation, even the sun and 
the waters of the Seas. The air, soil and water are being polluted by 
human activities globally and here is looking through S.S. windows. 

The picture here below, shows trash being incinerated (burnt) in the 
stream that leads into the Nile River and not far away from the main 
river. The stream’s greeny far left has water that is use for 
irrigating crops planted by the River bank. 

The land of South Sudan is not virgin and the loss is being continued. 
Some of the land destructions are natural, whereas most of the impacts 
are man-made. Burning fires and waste dumping are playing a part. 

If the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans could be polluted by a coal 
power plant running in India, China, or elsewhere, then you know, 
River Nile is nothing to escape the change. No land is immune of 
hazardous emissions (the deposit of dangerous waste and exhaust gas). 

Some recent past research by the scientists had shown that people in 
the US State of Alaska have been contaminated by eating fish caught in 
the Pacific Ocean with mercury contaminants in its body. Some heavy 
metal like mercury are found to might have migrated to the US from 
Indian’s coal power plant operated in India; through smoke that is 
containing mercury. 

The smoke mixed in and formed a cloud and the cloud came down in the 
form of rains, falling into the Ocean, where fish live as home and 
feed in. The fish is contaminated and when eaten by a person, then the 
person gets the mercury toxic contaminants known for destroying human 
nervous system, causing major illness or permanent disability in 
humans. 

When pregnant woman eats the fish with a level of toxicity in it, the 
fetus may be harmed, which could lead to death before and after birth 
or a child born with deformities (life disabilities). 

The mercury for example, is found in plastic bags and water bottles. 
The picture here is of the River Nile tributary, not far from Juba 
airport and passers have used it as a dumping ground. See water 
bottles … 

White Nile tributary (Right) by the Juba airport (left) is seen used 
as water bottles’ dumpster. These pictures were taken in summer (Feb. 
2014) when the tributary was dry, when it rains, it washed all these 
trash into the Nile – where they remain as sediments. The black, blue, 
red and green colors you see on the left side are from planes’ tails 
at Juba Airport. 

Juba Trash in Tragedy 
You heard of people disappearing in cities like Juba. There are those 
being taken by crocodile, hippopotamus or other unnamed dangerous 
aquatic life. These are accidents, but there are people who 
disappeared without trace of being attacked by the wild lives in the 
Nile River or elsewhere. 

Other disappearances are blamed on the killers, who kill people and 
throw them into the river. There is nothing good in human eating 
human. Those who drink and bathe from the White Nile River may be 
eating other humans in the form of water usage, because of those dead 
bodies being thrown into the Nile. 

When the body degraded into waters of the White Nile; the water is 
contaminated, making it unclean for human purposes, including domestic 
animals, since they do not feed on human flesh. 

That is pollution. And this is one of the reasons why people are 
getting sick more frequently than in the past. 

Mid-Night Dumping (Illegal Dumping). 
Passing in downtown Juba, you will see piles of trash as high as 5 to 
6 feet high by and above some complex fences in Juba town. The trash 
is not getting dumped to where it is supposed to go. The stagnant 
garbage piled up close to some offices, homes and traffic routes, will 
carry its pollutants around in town and people will catch it and get 
sick later. 

Some midnights dumped garbage is found on the Juba–Nimule Highway, on 
the road side, right before you cross the bridge and this is in 
Kony-Konya area of Juba. Besides, the trash could be seen dumped at 
less than 200 feet from Juba–Nimule Highway in the Nasitu area by the 
road side. 

I had seen some solid waste sitting by the river bank, next to the 
crops planted by the Nile River bank in Juba. Some garbage, by the 
streams that run into the Nile River when the rains fall, during the 
wet season. 

The trash on the road side which many travelers had seen on numerous 
occasions, would get flown onto the neighboring homes and public 
areas, when the wind blow, while the trash by Nile bank goes into the 
river, where fish could be contaminated with hazardous waste (e.g. 
medical waste) deposited into the River. 

When the contaminated fish is consumed by humans, people get sick and 
start seeking medical care. You might have seen people doing the same 
that are done in Juba being carried out all over the country South 
Sudan. 

People are washing cars into the Nile as well as washing their bodies 
and clothes during the bath with soaps. This activity must be 
considered illegal and dangerous to do so. 

The use of soap and other related agents into the Nile River is 
unhealthy because of the nature of toxicity in them. So why wash dirt 
and chemicals into the pure water of the Nile to contaminate it? 

There are ways for people to designate areas for washing and bathing. 
Cars have aerosols – some hazardous chemicals from car’s parts and 
fuel apparatus are considered contaminants. Garbage should be dumped 
at a faraway landfill from homes, low laying grounds and away from 
waterways. 

Water Bottles and Cans 
Water bottles, plastic bags and soda cans are being thrown anywhere, 
anyhow in Juba and other towns. Water bottles and soda cans look like 
cattle egrets behind fences and in open spaces in Juba town. This is 
not a good start for modernization or industrialization. 

And you do not tell me “baby nation is still waiting to crawl. “A day 
is more than a month” according to South Sudanese saying and the 
country existed as Free State for more than 10 years!! 

Can we control our waste to protect our environment? Konyo-konyo’s 
town ground is covered with water bottles and soda cans deposited over 
the past years. Could this be cleaned? 

The danger of mismanaging bottles and cans is that they don’t 
biodegrade, per an organization known as “Water Project”. According 
this same report, water bottles and soda cans do not break down and if 
they do decay, it took 1000 years for bottles and cans to break down 
and mix with soil. 

Long time indeed, no one would want to wait that long, but the right 
waste disposal and management would do. 

What are the ministry of environmental services, health and other 
educated South Sudanese residing in Juba, Nimule, Wau, Malakal, Bor, 
and other localities, doing to protect their natural resources, their 
environment (the water, land and people) from being polluted from 
imported goods?? 

All kinds of batteries from Automobile and electronics equipments 
carry toxic chemicals like mercury and cadmium among other toxicity 
ingredients. 

Forest Combustion during the Dry Season 
Burning the forest or few bushes is welcome by many cultures as forest 
“renewal and change” – with fire considered as “nature’s housekeeper” 
but this practice could be disastrous. 

The fire can clear the forest for passage; get rid of old parts and 
plants, but it takes away the most fertile part of the land – the top 
soil is burnt to ashes: Fires killed humus and other nutritional top 
soil ingredients. 

When the top soil that is rich with dead plants and animals is gone; 
the land is not productive for agriculture, grass growth for cattle 
grazing and this could make the burned land or forest incapable of 
replenishing itself. 

Fires destroy wild animal’s homes and lives – no country with 
responsible leaders and scholars would want to see their wildlife gone 
forever. This could lead to wildlife extirpation, or extinction. 

No one would be willing to see the wild animals in his/her home areas 
getting all killed or displaced to neighboring countries, where they 
will never return when they find peace there. 

Most of the South Sudanese burn their regions’ forests and grassland 
down, during the spring and summer seasons. The smoke from fires 
carries exhausted gases, hindering oxygen flow to all kinds of people 
and blocking sun light from hitting the earth. 

In this case, people with asthma and children have their breathing 
airways made so hard for them to breathe well, due to forests fires’ 
smoke, and fine particles floating in the air. 

The way to prevent this harmful practice is to make forest combustion 
illegal, unless it is absolutely necessary to burn the forest. South 
Sudan forest management must act now in regard nature integrity and 
protection. 

The few details expressed here are not the only impacts to South Sudan 
environment, but a few of enormous environmental issues of concern. 
Healthy environment means healthy people. This picture shows how the 
Nile is utilized as well as abusing it. 

Please, Keep Nile River Safe and Clean. If the Nile waters are 
polluted, the fish, land and the crops would too be polluted, among 
other natural resources, since it is the same Nile waters that serve 
the land and its production, either by the rain, irrigation, or flood. 

By GMT 
Author contact: maku...@yahoo.com 
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