Hot Spell: Heatwaves sweeps across the East African as experts warn of worse days

Experts say that the change in weather patterns are a clear sign of global warming rising temperatures as they warn of more frequent and intense heatwaves.

Experts also point to the broader influence of climate change, which is linked to global shifts in weather patterns. Rising temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns may be contributing to the unseasonably hot conditions gripping countries like Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, South Sudan and so on.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) forecasts higher heat stress across parts of Eastern Tanzania, eastern Kenya, southern Somalia & South Sudan from March to May. The significant portions of South Sudan are projected to experience elevated levels of heat stress during this timeframe.

For instance residents in Central Kampala, Northern, Eastern and some parts of Western Uganda are under an unexpected heatwave, with daytime temperatures soaring well above seasonal averages. Some areas have even recorded highs exceeding 35 degrees Celsius, making daily life a challenge for many.

The State Authorities in South Sudan also directed indefinite closure of schools across South Sudan starting Monday, March 18th, in response to a scorching heatwave expected to bring record-breaking temperatures.

The government has decided to take the following measures, one, close down all schools with effect from March 18, two, during the closure of the schools, parents are advised to stop their children from playing outdoors for prolonged periods and they should also monitor children, especially the young ones, for signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke,” said  Awel Yolanda Deng, Minister of Health

The joint decision by the ministries of education, health, and environment prioritises student safety. With forecasts predicting highs reaching a staggering 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit), officials warn of “serious health hazards” for children.

According to the Health Minister Yolanda Awel Deng confirmed the heatwave’s intensity, stating temperatures could remain elevated for “at least two weeks.” Sadly, the statement also acknowledged reports of heat-related deaths, though details remain unclear.

Mr Steven Mbidde, a Journalist from Nation Media Group who is currently in South Sudan confirmed that all schools in South Sudan have been closed by the government.

“Juba and most parts of South Sudan is experiencing a heatwave. It is forecasted that this heatwave will last for at least two weeks. Therefore it is critical to take proper safety measures during this humid and Hot period,” reads part of the statement.

Mbidde noted that even before the suspension of learning of schools, there have been schools taking lessons half day due to the massive heat waves even without the official closure of the school.

“Some school have been releasing learners during the afternoons without the official directive from government because they couldn’t leave leaners continue with classes. The students were being released at 1pm to go back home,” said Mbidde.

He further mentioned his experience in Juba saying that the degrees have been very high and it has been very hot in Juba to about 43 degrees  Celsius compared to Kampala, Uganda.

“The degrees are ranging 40, 41 and sometimes 43 and I think it is the right decision for the South Sudan government to close the schools. I got back to Kampala when it was 11am but we left Juba when it was very hot. I would sweat the whole day and the whole night and due to too much dust I contracted Flu and headache,” said Mbidde.

The authorities in South Sudan have also urged parents to keep children indoors during the hottest parts of the day and to monitor them closely for signs of heat exhaustion. Schools found defying the closure order risk losing their registration.

“Parents are advised to stop their children from playing outdoors, young children in particular should be monitored for signs of heat exhaustion,” reads in part of the statement.

Mbidde says it was good move by government to close the schools because the school are having to many children and there is a lot of crowding in those schools.

“There is too much heat in Juba and most of these schools are crowded with children yet there is poor conditions which makes it hard for the children to cope up with the conditions. There is too much dust in Juba for example on the Juba – Nimule road which is under construction,” said Mbidde Journalist working with Nation Media in Juba.

South Sudan, being one of the world’s youngest nation, faces a multitude of crises. Since gaining independence in 2011, the country has been ravaged by civil war, economic turmoil, and now, increasingly extreme weather events. Episodes of drought and intense rainfall are adding another layer of hardship to a population already struggling to survive.

This extreme weather event highlights South Sudan’s growing vulnerability to climate change. Heatwaves are becoming more frequent, adding to the country’s existing struggles with droughts, erratic rainfall, and the ongoing challenges of economic instability and violence.

Mr Mbidde noted some of the crisis developing from the Change in Climate and rising heat in South Sudan saying that there has been scarcity of basic needs like water.

“ Juba is facing a challenge of water scarcity; not many people are able to access clean water despite the fact that River Nile is following just near the capital. Clean water is transport in trucks but it’s expensive for the majority nationals who are already struggling with a weak Economy,” Mbidde said.

He also noticed Some Security personals  at road blocks and some local poor people wave at passerby vehicles asking them to stop and give some water for drinking.

Adding to the picture, the United Nations estimates that a staggering 80% of South Sudan’s 11 million people will require humanitarian assistance in 2024.


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