When you have solved one problem, a new one is arising.
South Sudan is a never-ending logistical challenge that could discourage even the most experienced logistics expert.
Moving goods by road is the cheapest and most environment friendly way of getting essential medicines and equipment to people in need. Out of the estimated 17,000 km of roads in South Sudan, only 200km are paved. During the rainy season, which is half of the year, 60 per cent of the roads become impassable. Floods destroy bridges and other much needed infrastructure. The solution is often to move cargo by air.
234 airstrips are dotted around this country which is the size of France. They are essential for moving cargo quickly over vast pieces of land.
However, only four of them have tarmac, the rest are dirt strips with no light or fancy equipment. During the rainy season, planes can often not land because the airstrip is too wet and urgently needed medicines will have to wait until the sun has done its job. It can be a day or a week- sometimes longer.
The mighty River Nile is snaking its way through South Sudan and carries great potential for moving supplies. However, the majority of the 60 docking sites along the river are hard to access and offer limited capacity as they don't have the infrastructure needed to move large amounts of cargo.
Even though the peace agreement from 2018 is largely holding, the country is still seeing a lot of insecurity. The first half of 2020, intercommunal violence increased by 300 per cent compared to the same period in 2019. Humanitarians are risking their lives while moving life-saving commodities. Staff transporting goods along the roads and on the river are most at risk.
Despite all these challenges, UNICEF is able to deliver essential medicines and medical supplies to some of the most remote areas in South Sudan, including Upper Nile and Jonglei where UNICEF and the World Bank has partnered to improve access to health care.
Every quarter, UNICEF dispatches medicines and medical equipment to the 191 health facilities dotted across the two large states. We are taking you along when we are delivering to Fashoda.
We are starting the journey in the temperature controlled warehouse in Juba.
Look out for the box with the red X throughout our journey.
We are moving north
to Malakal, the state
capital in Upper Nile.
In the belly of the plane there is almost a ton of medicines and medical supplies. Throughout the project which started in 2019, UNICEF and the World Bank have delivered no less than 587 tons to health facilities in Upper Nile and Jonglei worth USD 10.3 million.
In Malakal, all the cargo is offloaded to a truck and brought to the docks where a boat is waiting. We are ready for the next leg of the journey.
The river is our main road.
This is what is inside all these boxes
680 Packs of 135mg malaria medicine, 3 tablets/pack
730 Packs of 270mg malaria medicine, 3 tablets/pack
340 Packs of 270 mg malaria medicine, 6 tablets/pack
154 Packs of 67.5 malaria medicine, 3 tablets/pack
8 Packs of blood grouping regents
1 Centrifuge hematocrit machine for analysing blood samples
5 Boxes of blood sample containers
10 boxes of cover glass slides for analyzing blood samples
2 Boxes of 1mg epinephrine (Adrenaline)
375 Boxes of eye drops
1 Hemoglobin starter kit
1 Post exposure prevention kit
2 safety disposal boxes for used syringes and needles
1 Roll of masking tape
730 Maternal and Child Handbook on safe pregnancies, deliveries and child health
10 Boxes of micro curvette for blood samples (glucose)
25 Boxes of Oxytocin (used to start or improve contractions during deliveries)
2 Pregnancy wheels showing the course of the pregnancy
10 Report books
4 Boxes of HIV test kits
6 Boxes of syphilis test kits
1 Box of sealant compound for sealing capillary tubes prior centrifugation
1 Box of stool sample kit
5 Boxes of frosted microscope slides
1 Box of basic medicines for Primary Health Care Centres (for larger health centres)
5 Boxes of Primary Health Care Unit kits (for smaller health centres)
6 Boxes of antibiotics (Sulf. 100mg + Trimet 20mg disp.tab) 100 tab/box
6 Boxes of antibiotics (Sulf. 400mg + Trimet 80mg disp.tab) 100 tab/box
2 Boxes of cotton tip swabs
1 Wall clock
For every leg of the journey, a large number of people are involved to move the many boxes with medical equipment and medicines.
The last leg of the journey is from Kodok to Fashoda.
Only a tractor can handle these roads.
"Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity"
Author: Helene Sandbu Ryeng
Videos: Mark Naftalin
The provision of Essential Health Services Project is implemented in partnership with the World Bank.