Holiday in Juba, Part 1 – before the troubles

In International Development, South Sudan, Travel on December 20, 2013 at 3:42 pm

I just returned from an eventful trip in South Sudan. Below is what I wrote before the so-called “attempted coup”. The next post will be my experience during that time.

12-6-13 MABAN

I flew up to Maban, Upper Nile State, South Sudan yesterday. My overall state of mind is weary, as I was informed on Wednesday night after I got to Juba, that on the Tuesday just before, another NGO’s car got shot at in the same quarter of town where I’m staying and where our office is. Apparently the South Sudanese police/security haven’t been paid for a couple of months, and it’s the Christmas holidays, so they might as well intimidate and steal. I will likely leave South Sudan before my original leaving date.

In any case, I’m finally up in Maban, where all the real work takes place. It reminds me a lot of Dolo Ado in southern Ethiopia – what used to be a medium-large village basically doubled in population within a 5 year period due to refugees form the Blue Nile state in Sudan. What makes this situation unique is that the refugees are living basically right by the town in big organized new villages. It’s got it’s plusses and minuses. As they’re refugees, they have no property rights or work permits to have normal livelihoods here. But they are not locked up in camps, they are free to circulate and come into the markets, and the host community can easily reach out to them to do any kind of commerce.

However, the refugees are getting all the services, while the host community is left with less aid. The local government administrator told me as much yesterday.

As I write this, the sun’s rising and Maban is waking up. Sounds like anywhere else I’ve been in Africa. People chatting, footsteps outside the compound wall. Billions of chickens, the roosters have been crowing since around 4-something. The RI compound here is actually pretty nice, I was pleasantly surprised. It had been in pretty bad shape a year ago, but the guest house is now well equipped, I’m in my own room with a private bathroom. The generator got turned off at 10pm; it got hot really quickly. It’s nice and cool outside, I kind of wish I could have slept outside, but it doesn’t seem they do that. I’m currently wondering how I will get my coffee this morning… regretting not buying a bunch of those Starbucks Via packets that are at least better than Nescafe… We fly back to Juba today around 11am. It’s about a 90 minute flight. Then over the weekend I’m expecting to work with my CD on various financial and administrative issues.

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