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Coming face to face with poverty, hunger

By Kuyang Harriet Logo Mulukwat

I

 have done researches and assessments in different parts of South Sudan and each experience is different from the last. I am currently undertaking one that has brought me face to face with some of the challenges that the communities face. While the research objectives are designed to capture certain issues in the community and I must proceed with specificity or else I lose track, I cannot turn a blind eye to the plight of the people. The research I am conducting is in one of the former Equatorias and as our enumerators go out in the field to complete coded questionnaires, they also provide updates on the situation of things on the ground. On my part, I have experienced not just destitution in the little town that doubles as the state capital of the new state, I have come across situations that are bad and if nothing is done poverty, disease and hunger will kill people. In the streets of this little town, nearly everybody is a destitute and while most of the population looks to be in a bad shape, I am struck by the level of impoverishment of the little children. The children are begging for either money or food and they hover around all visitors. The incessant demand for help is nagging, but I begin to wonder why there are so many street children. I have seen the streets kids in Juba, but their level has not reached to the level of the state I am in.

I must say that I have been welcomed whole heartedly and for those reasons I cannot disclose the place I am in because all that I have seen and heard must be kept confidential. I the course of my stay – I have asked very simple questions relating to the status of the kids. I wanted to know why there were so may little kids on the streets. Is the reason because their parents and guardians cannot take care of them? Nobody gave me any answers in particular. So I started to make my own assumptions. For instance, it is only little boys on the streets. In the one week that I have spent in this place I am yet to see a little girl begging. So why it is that it is only boys that are on the streets asking for money and food?

Furthermore, I started to wonder where the parents of these children were, because no sane parent would let their little child loiter the streets and rummage through rubbish bags for food and in fact become a nuisance to people. I tried not to empathize with the situation of the little kids, but that’s a hard thing to do – the hunger in their eyes and the overall destitution is appalling- the leadership of the state needs to do something so that the children can be fed. Very soon the state would have to come with policies that will protect such children from exploitation on the streets. What I know is that as the little kids grow up, they become teenage children who are used to the streets and they can be easily influenced to join criminal activities or worse still remain on the streets for life. Aside from enacting policies, the national level of government must begin to mitigate the effects of the climate change that has caused drought over the whole of South Sudan. While the communities might not understand   the changes in the climate, government needs to have a food security programme to make South Sudan and the state in question food secure by a certain projected time. The communities are performing rituals so that the rains can fall, but so far the rituals to bring rain are yielding nothing and to the common man it means, something is terribly wrong. For the majority, they do not know what else to do, but hope that government will run to their aid very quickly.

The hunger and poverty are visible and if this continues then more hunger related deaths will occur.

The situation of the children is not good at all. While I have not mentioned the name of the state, it is important that government and all the state governments ensure that famine and destitution are eradicated from within their communities. It is not a good sight and it has been a very low point for me as I conduct the research.

If such children are the future of this nation, then what chances of competition do they have with other kids who are living normal lives? These children deserve a chance, one that might not be given to them by their parents, but a chance that is provided by government.

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