eapt out of bed after a bad night’s sleep, dreaming of snakes and scorpions. We’d been warned that there are a few venomous species living in this area and there had been several deaths in children due to snake bites. Imagine, walking for weeks, more than your little legs could bare, but you survived the journey only for a snake to end your life.
Today I liaised with the current coordinator of outreach workers for me to take over her team. Outreach workers are local people familiar with the local populations and able to communicate in the local language. We employ them for a range of tasks such as health promotion and education, vaccination campaigns, nutritional surveys and active case finding. I will be using them for almost all these tasks but my priority is mortality surveillance.
We want to set up teams that will visit each household in Jamam camp and count the number of people and number of deaths but finding local people that can count and write is a challenge. Literacy levels are low in South Sudan after years of neglect and particularly low in women. We will need to be imaginative, employing people that can translate Ingassanna, the local language, into Arabic and then employing additional workers that can translate from Arabic to English. We then need to make sure we have the right combination of languages and gender in the teams (ideally one woman and one man).
In the meantime the transfer of refugees from KM18 (the temporary site 18km from Jamam camp where refugees making the perilous journey from violence in Blue Nile State, Sudan, were able to find water) to the new camp at Batil continues. UNHCR is using huge trucks to transfer 2000-3000 refugees every day. It is a race against the clock. The drinking water is running out, the rains will start any day now and these people have no shelter and the roads will be inaccessible by truck. Yet the influx of refugees has put a strain on the water supply.
They are only receiving about 5L per person per day, far below the 15L per person per day recommended supply. Batil, Jamam and Doro camps cannot absorb even more people. Even if UNHCR manages to put thee refugees onto trucks, where should they take them? MSF is providing emergency medical care at KM18 and along the road from El Fuj (the border), transferring the most ill and vulnerable. Those remaining are at the mercy of the elements until we can return the next day.