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Unemployment among South Sudanese leave trail of heavy drinking

By Tapeng Michael Ohure

The sight of a dead drunk person in broad day light is very common in South Sudan.

Alcoholism is taking its toll on the people, many of among them youths who cannot get employment and end up idling in drinking.

“I do not have work and cannot just sit the whole day doing nothing, I get bored,” Peter Paul Okello told Juba Echo in Gudele, a suburb of the country’s capital Juba.

He is a graduate in bachelor of social works and social administration from Uganda’s prestigious Makerere University and has never got a job in over nine years roaming the streets of Juba.

“I prefer to drink and pass time hoping something will work out someday,” Okello said while still hoarding hopes of getting a job.

Hundreds of thousands of people in South Sudan are in a similar predicament.

And the problem is that even teenagers are getting heavily involved in the dangerous habit.

In Gumbo, on the southern outskirt of Juba, Chief Martin Okodolu said alcohol is killing very young boys in the area.

“Alcohol has killed 9 of our boys here in Gumbo and there is no future with these current boys we have because their drinking habit is uncontrollable,” Okodolu told Juba Echo.

While the country regulates drinking time, it has been difficult to control the habit, especially as it picked up fervently during the years of crisis.

The crisis which began in 2013 effectively ended with a peace deal in 2018 but by then had left 400,000 people dead, displaced four million others and destroyed the economy.

Investments and businesses collapsed, many employers wound out and people lost their jobs in the hundreds of thousands.

With joblessness and frustration, people, especially the young men including the underaged turned to alcohol.

Alcohol related ill-health

According to a Juba based medical Doctor, Dr Atwine Anacle, continuous drinking of alcohol could lead to brain degeneration, a condition associated with Amnesia& Remensia.

“Excessive drinking of alcohol would cause a person to have poor memory even if he or she is still young,” Dr Anacle told Juba Echo.

When consumed in excess, it could also cause hepatitis and liver cirrhosis and lead to liver malfunction over time, he said.

He stressed that a person who entirely depends on alcohol would also develop renal effects on the kidneys and peptic ulcer diseases (PUD) in the stomach.

A research carried out in 2018 by the Norwegian University Cooperation Program for capacity Development in South Sudan shows that the rate of use of alcohol in South Sudan is high, despite decades of civil war and poverty.

The results indicated that over 14 percent of them were identified as harmful or hazardous drinkers.

Its conclusion was that lack of regular income and psychological distress were the main risk factors for alcohol abuse in the country.

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