Voices from the Villages Print

VfVBy Alfred Taban

Barely one month after the birth of the new nation of South Sudan, The People’s Voice travelled to Minyori village, which is located some seven miles outside of Yei town, to talk to villagers about their concerns and problems with a view to bringing them to the attention of the government.

We found that, among the many issues raised by villagers, such as lack of farming equipment and a dirth of medical and educational facilities, that the sorry state of roads in Yei River County is a key factor affecting all aspects of life, from being able to access health facilities to being able to get produce to market.

The residents interviewed said they were willing to invest heavily in food production to help boost their county’s food security but, were lacking support from the state. 40 year old Cosmas Lemi Eliyoba, a resident of Minyori village, explained that the agricultural sector in the area was almost collapsing due to the many challenges that farmers faced; most crucially, lack of farm implements. Eliyoba, who lost his parents in 1994 during the civil war, said lack of access to loans, poor roads and damaged bridges also contributed to the misery of the farmers.

“We travel nine miles from the village to access services and the raw materials we need.  The government should at least provide loans to business oriented citizens and repair the roads so that we can transport our products to the market,” said Eliyoba.  He added: “we try to repair the bridges on our own but, because we are not professionals, no sooner have we worked on them, than raging floods sweep them away.”

Besides agricultural issues, villagers are also pleading for better services. Lona Diko, 40, a widow whose husband died during the country’s civil war, said many women have poor access to health facilities and have to walk long distances to get medical services. “The ratio of the local population to medical facilities is very skewed, with many women walking long distances to get treatment,” she said.

With a population of 15,500 people according to the 2008 census, Minyori Boma is in dire need of basic health care services for its residents. “We have to trek several miles to access basic services but, worse still is that even the facilities that exist lack qualified medical staff”, said Mary Radoli, a mother of two. She added that she delivered her children at home with the help of traditional birth attendants due to the long distance between her home and Yei civic hospital. “The roads are just in a deplorable state and nobody would waste time even hiring a vehicle to come and take a patient to the hospital. This is the same scenario facing local farmers whose farm produce rots in store houses due to the poor state of roads in this area”, she lamented.

The area Chief, Mr Abel Sebit, summarized it well when he said: “We are no longer in the old Sudan, where young men only thought of war. Things have changed and we must build our new country.”