Crisis in South Sudan: 300+ Share a single water Tap, Cholera Risk Soars

The influx of over half a million people fleeing Sudan’s conflict meant that transit centres in Renk – a border town in neighbouring South Sudan- are swelling with people four times their capacity, with more than 300 people sharing one water tap. The lack of clean water and sanitation is increasing the risk of cholera, warned Oxfam today.  

Over 1500 people are arriving every day from Sudan to these transit centres- with now nearly 15,000 people staying in two centres designed to host only 4,750 people.  More people are living in the open, at times up to 5,000 people, with no access to any clean water or proper hygiene. 

Even prior to the recent conflict, there were 1,027 cases of cholera in South Sudan. The rains, together with a lack of proper water or sanitation, increase the risk of disease outbreaks. Currently, 100 people share just one latrine – more than double the minimum standard.  

Oxfam in South Sudan Country Director, Dr. Manenji Mangundu, said:    

“I just came back from Renk, where people are crammed in shelters in horrifying conditions. Many have to queue for hours just to use clean water or a toilet. Without an immediate injection of funds, the situation will explode into a full-blown catastrophe, leaving many more people at risk of diseases and going hungry. The upcoming rainy season in April will cut off major roads hampering vital aid and further limiting people’s transportation to shelters.” 

Over 80% of the population in South Sudan – four out of five people- are already in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Overlapping crises, including five years of floods and conflicts in some parts of the country, have already devastated the lives and livelihoods of millions of people.  

Bibiana Peter, a mother of five who was forced to flee her home in Sudan and now living in transit centre 2 in Renk, said: 

“The hunger is unbearable. My children eat only once a day if they are lucky. Their meal is a small bowl of lentils for the entire day as I watch them suffer from malnutrition. I need to walk deep into the forest for firewood, facing multiple hazards such as snakes and the risk of being attacked. If I’m lucky I sell firewood to buy little food and if not, we sleep hungry and in the open leading to diseases and insecurity.”  

The upcoming lean season (April to July 2024) will force food stocks to hit their lowest level, compounding the already dire situation for the host community. Over 7 million people in South Sudan face extreme hunger – including 79,000 facing catastrophic levels of hunger. This number has increased by 22% percent while people experiencing catastrophic hunger has more than doubled.  

Despite a surge in the number of people fleeing the conflict in Sudan, and the worsening humanitarian catastrophe, funding has dwindled to an unprecedented low. The UN appeal for South Sudan in 2023 has been slashed by half compared to previous years. Since the beginning of this year, less than 4% of $1.79 billion UN appeal has been raised. This low level of funding has severely curtailed humanitarian efforts. 

“With major global crises attracting attention, the crisis in South Sudan is forgotten. But the world must not turn a blind eye. We are racing against time but funding cuts at this time are stretching our capacity to the limit and are a recipe for disaster. Every day of delayed action means irreversible harm to a population that already suffered years of devastation and destitution,” added Manenji  

Oxfam, together with partners, has provided clean water and proper sanitation to over 70,000 people in the transit camps, but urgently needs $7 million to ramp up its operations and reach 400,000 people with lifesaving food, clean water and sanitation.  


Note to editors:

  • The current capacity of Renk Transit Centres (Both Old and Extension – commonly referred to as TC1 and TC2 respectively) is 4,750. TC Extension with a capacity of 2750 individuals currently hosts nearly 15,000 individuals (almost 4 times its design holding capacity)
  • The 2024 Humanitarian Needs and Response Plan for South Sudan indicates that 9 million people will need humanitarian aid in South Sudan including more than 1.6 million children who are at risk of acute malnutrition.
  • The IPC South Sudan Acute Food Insecurity Malnutrition Sep2023 July2024 report confirms 5.83 million people (46% of the population) are currently facing crisis and worse levels of hunger (IPC 3+) which is set to go up to 7.1 million during the lean season starting in April 2024.
  • South Sudan’s Humanitarian Response Plan was 51.4% funded in 2023 according to OCHA FTS. In 2024, to date, the Humanitarian Needs and Response Plan is only 3.6% funded (as at 27 February 2024).
  • UNOCHA FTS funding levels for 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 show that 2023 was comparatively the lowest funding provided in proportion to the needs and even in light of the amount raised.
  • In 2023, the $1.05 billion raised is less funding than raised in any single year between 2014 and 2022.

Media contact

Vita Sgardello, manager, Communications, , 613-799-0234.

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