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Unity state women now brew alcohol for survival


September 23, 2013 (KAMPALA) – Women in South Sudan’s Unity state now sell locally-brewed alcohol to meet the high living costs and school fees demands for their children.

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Bentiu resident Tapitha Nyataba Mayang brewing alcohol, September 19, 2013 (ST/Bonifacio Taban)

Various women, in a series of interviews with Sudan Tribune in Rubkona and Bentiu towns, said they have benefited in several ways from the alcohol business.

Recently, however, floods resulting from heavy rains blocked roads and this forced many of these women to consider distilling alcohol the only survival means.

Nyager Gatkuoth, a resident of Chilaak village in Rubkona, said she has spent 14 years in alcohol trade and three of her children attend school.

"The reason why I make alcohol is because my children suffer a lot as there is no job opportunity. Making this alcohol has enable me send them to schools and make money to buy them food”, she said.

Averagely, Gatkuoth says she can make up to 70 South Sudanese Pound ($18) a day.

But Tapitha Nyataba Mayang says most women took to brewing alcohol in order to create their own jobs.

"Most of these women in this area use to make alcohol because of [the] difficulty facing them as majority [of them] lack jobs”, said the 35-year old hailing from Bentiu.

Poor service delivery was also another problem that forced women to brew alcohol in order to take their children to hospital when they fall sick, added Mayang.

Nyakume Chuol, who spent 12 years in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum told Sudan Tribune she began making alcohol to make ends meet after the 1996 death of her husband.

“I make this alcohol because these children have no father. The alcohol is my second husband after he died in the decade [long] war. I cook it to get some cash to feed them [children] and it has taken me long time since I was in Khartoum”, said Chuol.

Meanwhile, residents say they prefer the locally brewed alcohol, which is cheaper when compared to beers. While a 500ml beer bottle costs as much as SSP10 [about $2.5], one only need SSP2 [less than a dollar] to buy a 200ml of the local brew.

Several women, however, complained of too much competition in the business that has since attracted many people.

Last year, South Sudan initiated tough austerity measures in the wake of the country’s oil shutdown that resulted after a dispute over transit fees with neighbouring Khartoum. Revenues from oil used to account for 98% of the country’s annual budget.


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