Floods caused by torrential rains have worsened the living conditions of South Sudanese people in many parts of the country in the past few months. Some of the areas affected include Lafon, Torit and Kapoeta South counties in Eastern Equatoria; Ayod, Akobo, Bor South, Duk, Twic East, Pibor, Pochalla and Uror counties in Jonglei; Aweil Center and Aweil North in Northern Bahr el Ghazal; Abiemnhom, Mayom, Mayendit and Panyijiar in Unity; Maban in Upper Nile; and Gogrial East, Gogrial West and Tonj North in Warrap.
The heavy rains have inundated shelters, water sources, crops and crucial productive assets in many areas. They have also damaged essential service infrastructure like schools and health facilities, impacting women and children in particular. The floods have rendered many roads impassable, constraining people’s access to markets and humanitarians’ ability to move across affected areas. Thousands of families have temporarily relocated from worst-affected to safer areas. The flooding has increased the risk of diseases among the communities. The most commonly reported ones include acute watery diarrhoea, respiratory infections and malaria.
Across the country, authorities and aid organizations have reported that an estimated 234,800 people have been affected by the floods in the past months including about 132,800 people in Jonglei, 52,000 people in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, nearly 37,000 people in Unity, some 8,000 people in Eastern Equatoria and 5,000 people in Upper Nile. In Warrap, a joint needs assessment by partners to assess needs and ascertain the number of people affected by floods in Tonj North, Gogrial East, Gogrial East and Tonj North counties commenced on 11 September. Local leaders continue to report new affected areas and people daily.
The government with support from the humanitarian organizations are currently responding to needs in locations including Aweil Centre in Northern Bahr el Ghazal; Ayod, Bor South, Duk, Twic East and Pibor in Jonglei; Maban in Upper Nile; Torit and Kapoeta in Eastern Equatoria; and Mayendit in Unity.
Humanitarian response to floods is based on assessed needs and vulnerability index developed by the Humanitarian Country Team. According to the agreed criteria, response is triggered only if over 5,000 people have been affected; at least half of individual property has become uninhabitable as a direct result of the floods; the flooding is combined with more than one other event, such as conflict, disease outbreak, inter-communal conflict or cattle raid; the affected population is experiencing emergency or worse levels of food insecurity; more than 50 per cent of water infrastructure and health and nutrition facilities have been destroyed; and more than 40 per cent of productive assets and cultivated land have been lost.
In many parts of South Sudan, strong coping mechanisms are already in place to deal with annual flooding. Humanitarian and other organizations are working with local communities to support resilience initiatives as a sustainable solution to the flood emergencies and to reduce
need for humanitarian assistance. These include community sensitization about appropriate locations for planting and cultivation.
Despite the challenges, floods also bring some positive benefits to affected communities, including increased fertility of farmland and availability of fish.