South Sudan closes schools due to scorching heatwave with highs of 45ºC

South Sudan closes schools due to scorching heatwave with highs of 45ºC
Authorities advise parents to keep children indoors during extreme heatwave, expected to last two weeks

Juba, South Sudan | By Michael Wandati | Starting Monday 18, March 2024, the Government of South Sudan has taken the decision to close down all schools in anticipation of an upcoming extreme heatwave expected to persist for approximately two weeks.

The Health and Education ministries jointly issued a statement late Saturday, advising parents to ensure that all children remain indoors during this period, as temperatures are forecasted to reach as high as 45 degrees Celsius (113º Fahrenheit).

In their announcement, the ministries emphasized that any school found operating during this period would face consequences, including the withdrawal of its registration. However, they did not specify the duration for which the schools would remain closed, stating that they would continue to assess the situation and provide updates to the public accordingly.

Peter Garang, a resident of South Sudan capital city, Juba, expressed support for the government’s decision, suggesting that schools should have access to electricity to facilitate the installation of air conditioning units to mitigate the effects of extreme heatwave.

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South Sudan, despite being one of the world’s youngest nations, faces significant challenges exacerbated by climate change. While heatwaves are common, temperatures rarely exceed 40ºC. The country has also been plagued by civil conflict, alongside droughts and floods, creating harsh living conditions for its inhabitants.

According to the latest country brief from the World Food Program (WFP), South Sudan continues to confront a severe humanitarian crisis, compounded by violence, economic instability, and climate change.

Additionally, the influx of people fleeing conflict in neighboring Sudan has further strained resources. In January 2024 alone, the program provided food and cash-based assistance to 818,000 vulnerable individuals in the country.