Three years ago there was jubilation across South Sudan as it finally became an independent country. The third anniversary of independence is almost here (9th of July) and all that excitement has been dampened by a growing realization of the enormous challenges facing the world’s youngest country. South Sudan remains one of the hardest places in the world to be a child; conflict, displacement, food shortages, natural disasters and a severe lack of access to even the most basic of services all interweave to threaten children’s survival. But with the highest rate of maternal deaths in the world, the fight for children’s survival in this harshest of contexts begins even before birth.
These are the photos from the photo essay The Child Survival in South Sudan.
Regina uses beads and a stopwatch to the count four-year-old Lochebe’s breaths. This is a simple technique that helps women like Regina, who are illiterate and innumerate, to spot warning signs in children. Moving one bead with every breath the child takes, if she is left with a red bead at the end of one minute she knows that the child is breathing too rapidly and needs immediate medical attention.
A year and a half later, Tereza has benefitted from Save the Children Cash for Work programme that provided her with monthly cash payments in exchange for her work on community improvement efforts. Tereza was able to invest some of her money in livestock and use the rest to buy food and medicine for her family. Here she is purchasing medicine for her daughter Sarah who has been suffering from malaria.
Regina, 45, diagnoses four year old Lochebe with pneumonia in Kapoeta North, South Sudan. Regina is a Community Based Distributor trained by Save the Children to diagnose and treat the three main killers of children in South Sudan; malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia. Before women like Regina were trained to provide this vital service, mothers would have to walk for many hours to the nearest health clinic when their children were ill and many died on the way.
Three years later, Alice holds Malisi, now three years old, who is healthy after receiving regular health care at the clinic set up by Save the Children. In South Sudan there is a one in eight chance that a child will die before their fifth birthday, often as a result of easily preventable and treatable illnesses such as malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia.
Mother Nyayalny walked for two hours with her sons Pagak, 3, and Duolduet, 6 months, to the Primary Health Care Unit supported by Save the Children in Upper Nile state, South Sudan, because Pagak has been suffering from a fever and diarrhoea. Nyaylny also had two older children but when they fell ill with diarrhoea there was no health clinic she could take them to. She said, “When my older children fell sick there was nothing I could do and both of them died.” With only half of the population of South Sudan having access to clean water and 80% having no access to toilets, diarrhoea is a serious problem that often proves deadly for children.
(all photos ©Colin Crowley/Save the Children)