South Sudan closes schools owing to extreme heatwave

Monday March 18 2024

A street in the South Sudan capital, Juba. FILE PHOTO | NMG


The government of South Sudan has indefinitely closed all learning institutions beginning Monday, March 18 due to the current heatwave that is also sweeping across eastern Africa.

Read: Why Kenya is experiencing hot weather

The government has also instructed parents not to allow children to play outdoors and asked them to report any signs of heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

In a joint statement by the Health and Education ministries, the authorities warned that any school found open would have its registration withdrawn.

“The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry will continue to monitor the situation and inform the public accordingly,” the statement read.

According to the Environment ministry, the capital Juba and most parts of South Sudan are experiencing a heat wave with temperatures forecast to rise to as high as 45 degrees Celsius. This week temperatures could rise to 41 degrees Celsius.


The extreme hot weather is expected to last at least two weeks.

Earlier the Health ministry had issued an advisory stating that “extended periods of high day and night-time temperatures create cumulative physiological stress on the human body”.

This, the ministry said, exacerbates the top causes of death globally, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus and renal disease.

“There are already cases of deaths related to excessive heat being reported,” authorities said in a statement on Saturday.

The Health ministry advised people to reduce the heat load inside the apartment or house, close windows and shutters especially those facing the sun during the day and turn off artificial lighting and as many electrical devices as possible.

The residents are also required to hang shades, draperies, awnings or louvers on windows that receive morning or afternoon sun, and hang wet towels to cool down the room air.

“Electric fans may provide relief, but when the temperature is above 35 degrees centigrade, may not prevent heat-related illness. It is important to drink fluids,” the advisory says.

Those living in air-conditioned houses were advised to close the doors and windows and conserve electricity not needed to keep them cool, to ensure that power remains available and reduce the chance of a community-wide outage.

For beddings, the ministry urged use of light bed linen and sheets, and no cushions to avoid heat accumulation.

People were advised to drink water regularly and avoid alcohol and too much caffeine and sugar, which are dehydrating.

They were also urged to eat small but frequent meals and to avoid foods that are high in protein.

The ministry urged people to be their brothers’ keepers, checking in especially on family, friends, and neighbours who spend much of their time alone. Vulnerable people might need assistance on hot days, it said.

“If anyone you know is at risk, help him or her to get advice and support. Elderly or sick people living alone should be visited at least daily. If a person is taking medication, ask the treating doctor how it can influence thermoregulation and the fluid balance,” the Health ministry advised.