We hope you are staying safe and well during this time of social isolation, and that you were able nonetheless to enjoy the Easter weekend.
As of today, South Sudan has 4 confirmed cases of Covid-19. As we reported last week, the South Sudanese government has formed a Task Force, informed among others by the University of Juba’s high-level committee and technical sub-committee, which include experts from the diaspora.
The vice-chancellor shared the committee’s preliminary report with the Friends of Ibba Girls' School (FIGS) team last week, thanks to the strong working relationship between the University of Juba and FIGS. The report makes a number of recommendations to the Task Force, based on South Sudan’s unique demographic patterns, the prevailing national conditions and capacities, cultural values and social norms. Comprehensive consultation with local populations and stakeholders is key both to the committee’s deliberations and to the successful implementation of measures to curb the spread of the disease. As the BBC has reported today, localised solutions and public ‘ownership’ of them were shown to be the most effective means by which sub-Saharan African countries have dealt with previous outbreaks of disease, including most recently the Ebola epidemic.
Some early assumptions about Covid-19 have sadly not been borne out. For example, the Ecuadorian coastal city of Guayaquil has recently seen a spike in cases, despite its very warm tropical climate. And although 70% of South Sudan’s population is under 30, assumptions about the age profile of those who are vulnerable are unlikely to hold where immune systems are compromised by malnutrition, limited diets, diabetes, or HIV/Aids and other diseases. Household sizes are also much higher than in the global north, and in crowded cities like Juba can “easily exceed 15”, according to the preliminary report. One thing in South Sudan’s favour is its relative lack of urbanisation. 81% of the population live in rural areas, and the recommended approaches include minimising the movement of people from cities into the countryside, while retaining sufficient access to markets to protect supply chains and livelihoods.
We will continue to keep you updated as the situation evolves, and thank you as always for your ongoing support to all of us who are Friends of Ibba Girls’ School. Please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions using [email protected].
Mark Simmons, CEO