Opinion | The eye-catching change brought about by the incumbent minister of water resources and irrigation
"The current ministerial moves and plans interrogated that the water management system in the country will never be the same any longer. Water shortages are frequently a source of conflict at local level and problems associated with water quality are on the increase. But all these seem to improve in a short while."
OPINION – The Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation H.E Manawa Peter Gatkuoth is one of the great rising young leaders in South Sudan. His role in redrawing the national water resource management policy has inspired many countries and international water companies in developing far-reaching deals with the young nation. And as a result, some old-broken bilateral ties with certain countries have apparently improved once more.
It is very much appreciated that a water policy has been developed and improved than ever before and I believe the impact will be realized effectively by all when the current efforts for developing a water strategy and plan of actions are completed by the ministry. More importantly, it is more rewarding that the progress in this direction is also given a priority by the government of South Sudan.
As matter of fact, I have been so much inspired by the recent ministerial move that made South Sudan a respected signatory to several international protocols which are important for development and implementation of water policy in the country.
South Sudan contains a wealth of water resources in form of rainfall, surface water (in rivers, lakes, and swamps) as well as groundwater resources. However, the monitoring systems of these resources and their data processing, analysis, storage, and dissemination of the information need considerable attention to develop a sustainable hydrological information system (HIS) contributing to an effective Water Information System (WIS) which I believe the incumbent minister shall bring about.
On the other hand, the breakdown of structures for managing common water resources during years of conflict has led to siltation, degradation and pollution of surface and groundwater sources in many areas with negative impacts on environment and socio-economic activities. But the current ministerial moves and plans interrogated that the water management system in the country will never be the same any longer. Water shortages are frequently a source of conflict at local level and problems associated with water quality are on the increase. But all these seem to improve in a short while.
Meanwhile I have also been inspired by the following ministerial plans to protect water bodies and resources in the country:
Practical mechanisms for systematic water quality monitoring and pollution control . And in this regard, all commercial and industrial enterprises and other waste water generating concerns shall be required to incorporate waste water treatment in their designs.
Issuing of permits shall take into consideration the need to protect ecosystems and conserve biodiversity in areas such as the Sudd wetlands.
Effective management of water resources for the benefit of all based on recognition of full social and economic value of water in all its competing uses, and taking deliberate efforts to ensure sustainable utilization of finite resources.
Specific measures will be taken to ensure poor water users are not disadvantaged. Water saving technologies, rainwater harvesting and waste water recycling shall also be promoted where appropriate.
“Even though the country is still on the path of severe crisis to which the water crisis is part of I still believe in the gradual effort possessed by the incumbent minister of water”
As matter of fact, South Sudan is suffering from a water crisis. The constant conflict within South Sudan has left the country’s water systems neglected or destroyed. The poor rains and flooding in some parts of the country and the decreasing value of South Sudan’s currency contrasted with the rising price of living, has depleted the country’s clean water supply, and made it difficult, and expensive, for the population to access clean and safe water.
When clean water sources are scarce, it is left to the women and girls to make the journey to find clean water – disrupting or halting the girls’ attendance at school, and preventing the women from working, which in turn places the families under further economic strain. For those in Juba City, who live too far from a clean water supply to walk, they must rely on water deliveries, which continue to increase the price of their water. Sometimes, these water distributors do not reach everywhere they are needed due to the rising cost of fuel. Some families that are struggling financially cannot afford to buy clean water, and so they have to either use dirty water, or go without. So this is so horrible and I’m sure it must improve.
South Sudan’s water source is trans-boundary waters, meaning it shares its water with the surrounding countries. The Nile River Basin, South Sudan’s main body of water, is shared by 10 countries, in fact. This causes extreme water stress on other hand, which is when the demand for water exceeds the amount available, and this in turn has intensified the already pre-existing political and economic tensions. But all we need is to have a perfect water management policy which is on the run from the current ministry.
For so long South Sudan has predominantly relied on aid organisation for water help, however, this has not been enough, and only 55% of people in South Sudan have access to clean water, with this figure set to fall as water becomes increasingly expensive and un-affordable. Without available clean water, the population has no choice but to settle for dirty water which dramatically increases the likelihood of catching disease and infections. Due to this, South Sudan remains host to 98% of the world’s remaining Guinea worm cases, and a third of children under the age of 5 suffer from diarrhea. Thus, making improvements to water access and sanitation is crucial for the country’s future. The issues of conflict, water scarcity and economic hardship debased all the systems in the country for long but hopefully all these shall cease sooner than later.
All we need as inhabitants of this great territory is an active and able public servant with commitment and plans for his duty ,like the Current effort brought in by the Hon. minister that delineate the formal procedures for assessment and monitoring of water resources development across the country ,the renovation plan for the severe damaged pipelines and the new water treatment policy. So those are great hopes for the citizens across the country. Good number of households within the national capital has recently gain access to safe water after long water crisis. Hence as South Sudanese we must learn to recognize and appreciate the little sacrifice made by our few devoted stakeholders. Big shout outs to our young, energetic servant Hon. Manawa Peter Gatkuoth as well as to the rest of young South Sudanese committed leaders who are trying their level best to put the country into a new bright trajectory.
The author is an activist, a student leader and a concerned citizen of South Sudan. Reach him via: email@example.com.
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