Farmlands submerged, homes erased in floods re-displacing South Sudanese

By Deng Machol

The number of South Sudanese affected by heavy floods in the country is into their hundreds of thousands and is re-displacing thousands of people returning home from an earlier displacement.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said heavy rains have damaged infrastructure, limiting physical access to areas affected by floods across the country.

UNOCHA said flooded farmlands are also increasing the risk on food insecurity and is bound to exacerbate needs for food assistance in the future.

“My house is standing in water with everything – it is a terrible situation,” Mary Aker Gai, a mother of three children, told Juba Echo from Bor town.

The floods are hitting at a time when food ration to the needy people has been drastically reduced.

Like Aker, 426, 000 people have been affected by the floods, getting worse especially in the States of Jonglei, Unity, Upper Nile and Northern Bahr el Ghazal.

She has joined an exodus of people seeking displacement again in higher lands. Most of those affected were just returning home after six years of crisis which left 400,000 people dead and displaced four million others.

Dykes in the areas prone to floods are no longer working as water levels keep surpassing their heights.

According to the UNOCHA report, vulnerable people need food assistance, emergency shelter, clean water and provision of non-food items and services of sanitation and hygiene.

“Heavy rains, infrastructure damage and reduced physical accessibility, funding constraints and insecurity have hampered the flood response,” the UN Agency said.

Canoes and boats are the most reliable means of movement as roads are all cut off.

In all places including towns of Bor and Kuacjok, thousands of houses have been submerged.

Gabriel Anyar, the chairperson of the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC) in Warrap State said a three-year-old boy died and 10 people were injured when their houses collapsed following a heavy downpour in Kuajok town.

“The destruction is heavy as a three-year-old child has died when a hut fell on him with his parents who sustained serious injuries,” Anyar told Juba Echo by phone.

Anyar said at least 641 houses collapsed and 3,546 locals displaced by floods, taking shelter at the school promises and public places in the town. 

In Bok County in Jonglei, a similar devastation is ongoing.

Jacob Mawut Ajak, the Deputy Coordinator for RRC in the County said 3, 464 are seeking shelter in Bor town.

“The situation is seriously deteriorating – we can’t fix the broke dyke now because the water is too much,” Ajak told Juba Echo.

“The residents have evacuated the flooded areas and resettled in high grounds and are in dire need of humanitarian assistance specially shelter, food and medication,” Mawut said.

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