JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN
Last week, I sat down with Anna Mubarek, a SAHM/Plexus consultant in the notorious Juba neighborhood of Gudele, to discuss the growing water crisis in South Sudan.
She winces as she takes the last sip of lukewarm water from her plastic cup, the look on her face one of resignation. “We face many, many problems,” she says. “There are no Yeti Tumblers here in Juba. It’s normally the Amazon Prime which bring us Yeti Tumblers. At times, these shipments are delayed to one week, maybe two. At times they deliver the wrong size. At times they don’t come at all.”
In South Sudan, only 45% of residents have access to ice cold drinking water hours after filling their cup. And due to increased costs of production, Yeti suppliers in Juba are carrying fewer and charging more.
Those living in the suburbs of South Sudan’s largest cities, particularly those without a local REI, have been hit hardest. They can no longer afford to buy enough Yeti Tumblers. Those who still can afford them now spend twice as much as they did before the demands of the holiday season.
Mubarek continues, “I have family members traveling here for the holidays. I placed a bulk order for custom monogrammed decals months ago. Now I have nothing to put them on. Nothing.”
In an area that is struggling with a 30% increase in cost of living in 2015, ice cold water is taking a backseat to putting food on the table. As such, many residents of the poorest regions have turned to inferior products, such as the Starbucks Stainless Steel Tumbler or the “40 oz Stainless Steel Tumbler with Lid and Straw,” neither of which qualify for Amazon Prime. A close family friend of Mubarek, who does not wish to be named, confides, “I have had to accept that my ice will melt before I have had a chance to fully enjoy its frosty goodness. But I have learned to survive with what I have.”
Yet Mubarek states that others have turned to an alternative, more expensive solution. “I recently put an ISO for Yeti tumblers on the local neighborhood moms buy/sell Facebook page. At the price these women are asking for one, I could feed my entire family for one year. One mom even offered me a free sample of Beautycounter’s Hydrate Everyday Body Lotion, but unless it’s packaged in double-wall vacuum insulation, I just don’t see the use.”
As war in South Sudan rages on, a concerted effort by international donors is what is needed to help ensure that the Sudanese have access to ice cold drinking water for their families and preschool teachers. If you are one of the many, like Anna, who has been unable to find Yeti tumblers this holiday season, please consider donating to Water for South Sudan, and know that you have made a difference.