Money for nothing: Me and a group of residents of a village near the oil fields, where many people say they have been told to move repeatedly by the oil consortium operating there. An older woman living here said she has had her house razed twice in order to make way for drilling. Some compensation has been paid to the thousands of people displaced by the industry in the region over the years, but it’s been spotty and informally done. Many residents here had requested compensation from the state government, but so far, have been ignored.
Oil fields, Bentiu: I’m back in DC now, but one of the last things I did in South Sudan was visit what’s known as the Unity oil field outside of Bentiu in the north of South Sudan. Production at Unity is believed to have peaked, but it’s still the biggest oil field in the country. On the left is the pipeline that carries the oil from the south through the north to Port Sudan for export. There is no pipeline in the south, and figuring out the two nations are going to cooperate on exporting the south’s oil is a big unresolved problem.
On the right is a small skimming pond where the large amount of water that is pumped out of the ground is left for the oil and water to separate. It’s a normal practice in the oil industry, but the way oil is pumped in Unity generates an unusually large amount of excess water, and many in the area are worried about the the heavy metals in the vast skimming ponds creating problems with groundwater.
Shout out for Jared Ferrie’s radio doc on cattle vaccination in South Sudan, in which I provide the voice of a child bride who needs 50 cows for her dowry: http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0„6641569,00.html
Here’s the dispatch from my days with the rebel soldiers fighting the Sudanese army in Blue Nile on Time.com: http://ti.me/q8HhvF
Bentiu Forever! The U.N. compound, comprised almost exclusively of shipping containers, where I’m staying. There’s hot water and plenty of beer and whisky here, but not much fresh food, especially since Khartoum closed off the border between north and south this summer and trade ground to a halt. A guy I met paid $20 for two dozen eggs today.
Downtown Bentiu, the capital of Unity State, where I’ve been staying for the last couple of days. I liked this weird little outhouse in the middle of an open field. Bentiu used to be a garrison town of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) during the civil war, so a lot of the buildings are an Arab-influenced style of architecture that you don’t see further south. It’s definitely big sky country. The streets are wide, and long-horned cattle meander through the long grass around town. When I remarked on how many cows there were to a minister I traveled with today, he replied: “A lot of cows, a lot of problems.” True. Not far away, a community of 21,000 people picked up and abandoned their village after armed cattle raiders had violently attacked their homes.
U.S. troops will be deployed in Uganda, CAR, Congo and South Sudan to help hunt down the notorious leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, Joseph Kony. After seeing the amount of money the U.S. is spending in South Sudan and the depth of their involvement across sectors from police and army training to wildlife conservation, this doesn’t surprise me.
Juba moon. This is the courtyard in my guesthouse. After four+ years in hazy Hong Kong, it’s good to see this bright moon in the sky every night.
South Sudan’s national archives have been in a tent in the center of the city since 2007, when they were recovered from rooms that had been locked up for decades during the war. When they were finally opened, workers had to go in with masks and full body protection to recover them from a room infested with rats and cockroaches.