Philip Pitia is a 31-year old father of seven and seasonal farmer who resides in South Sudan’s capital of Juba. In recent years, Philip has struggled to find work during off-seasons. “I hustle around and make sure I get some income for my family,” Philip said. “[My family] waits for what I get for them.”
Jobs have been increasingly scarce in South Sudan as inter-communal violence surges throughout the country.
“The conflict in South Sudan has affected us economically,” Philip said. “We do not have jobs … the only thing is that we wait for the rainy season such that we go to farm. In fact there is no income generating activity that we are doing.”
Recent years have also brought historic levels of flooding throughout South Sudan, cutting off access to basic needs and creating ideal conditions for diseases like malaria to spread.
“The floods have affected us in terms of access and diseases like: – fever, Malaria and typhoid. Whenever it rains, there are a lot of mosquitoes and malaria cases,” Philip said. “And when it floods if one has no charcoal at home then cooking is difficult because we often use firewood. Access to the market becomes very difficult. This floods have affected us badly.”
Malaria is the leading cause of sickness and death in South Sudan, which is why Philip makes sure that his family is taking the proper precautions to protect themselves and prevent the spread of mosquitoes.
“I call a family meeting, sit them down and explain to them the importance of keeping our surrounding clean, covering stagnant water around the home,” Philip said. “We should not keep our homes bushy because mosquitoes breathe in bushy areas and stagnant water. I also advise them to drink clean water to avoid contracting diseases.”
Philip also works to educate the community on disease prevention.
“Whenever an NGO or any organization comes to our community, we call the whole community and explain the program of the NGO so that we can work together to protect our community,” Philip said.
Earlier this year, Philip’s community received a new malaria prevention tool, the Mosquito Shield™, thanks to a pilot project conducted by SFH Rwanda, SC Johnson, and South Sudan’s Ministry of Health. This project is featured in this short film:
Mosquito Shield™ is a low-cost, lightweight, and easy-to-use spatial repellent product, created by SC Johnson, that can be hung in semi-enclosed and enclosed spaces to protect against mosquitoes for up to one month. It passively emanates the active ingredient, transfluthrin, using natural airflow to protect people from mosquitoes in a specific area.
“The [Mosquito Shield™] has surely helped us because when you nail the Shield on the wall it scars away mosquitoes. You will sleep like your sleeping outside,” Philip said. “Surely when we had the Shield it helped in the reduction of malaria cases. Malaria cases reduced in our area.”
When asked what it would mean to him if malaria was wiped out in South Sudan, Philip said. “That will be a great news because we will not be spending money on treatment, secondly we shall now be saving money for other things. Because every moment a person is diagnosed with malaria that means money is being spent and keeps us poor.”
To learn more about the fight against malaria in South Sudan, visit beatmalaria.org/southsudan.