South Sudan's flood victims hit by food, water shortage

‘It’s a terrible situation without food, water and medical services,’ says chairperson of Jonglei Civil Society

Benjamin Takpiny   | 14.01.2021
South Sudan's flood victims hit by food, water shortage File Photo

JUBA, South Sudan

People who fled devastating floods in South Sudan’s Jonglei state to Mangalla in Central Equatoria state said they are now facing a new challenge -- a severe lack of food and water.

Waterborne diseases are also creating a nightmare among the group of about 96,000 people, Atem Akuoch, one of its leaders, told Anadolu Agency.

While some of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) are forced to trek long distances in search of clean water, others have resorted to drinking contaminated water from the River Nile, leading to disease outbreaks among them, he said.

The IDPs, mostly from Jonglei, fled floods in their area last year.

Countrywide, the floods have affected over one million people.

Most homes from the town of Bor to Twic East have been submerged in a devastating flood, displacing 200,000 people. The water level in Jonglei state has risen 1.5 meters (4.9 feet). Aid agencies believe the floods will aggravate food crises in the region.

“Women and children walk a long distance about one hour from where they stay to fetch water from limited boreholes shared with the host community, while other families have resorted to drinking from the River Nile,” Akuoch said.

“The water people used to take from the River Nile is not clean and causes a lot of diseases like diarrhea, malaria and typhoid,” he said.

“The Bari community is not happy now because people are moving to places the host community didn’t allocate to IDPs. But now due to the situation, people are moving there.”

While appreciating the support given to them by the government and humanitarian agencies, Akuoch said more should be done to help the suffering people.

He also said shelters and latrines are not enough for IDPs, with pregnant women delivering under trees.

“We don’t have a reception in the camp. People just come and go to the community straight away without being registered,” Akuoch said.

The government of South Sudan and humanitarian agencies should ensure the IDPs in Mangalla access food and drinking water, said David Garang Goch, chairperson of the Jonglei Civil Society.

“We want the government to rescue these people in Mangalla Payam,” Goch said.

Payams are the second-lowest administrative division, below counties, in South Sudan.

“Their being there is not their fault, but they have been displaced by floods which are a national natural disaster. Let the government come in and rescue them. They are really suffering,” he said.

Goch said access to health facilities is also a problem for the group.

“It’s a terrible situation without food, water and medical services. Those people are in dire need of humanitarian services,” he said.

“It’s now five months. They have not been given any services by the government, and we don’t know what the problem is.”

Goch also decried the insecurity affecting the people, noting that abductions and killing of children have taken place at the camp.

“The scarcity of water in Mangalla has become a major threat to people who are there. It’s now serious,” he said.

Aluel, a mother of three, said most of the people in the camp are staying without food and drinking water and if they try to drink from the River Nile, it causes diarrhea and malaria.

She urged the government to provide support with at least more water points like bringing in boreholes or hand pumps, although there is no food.

Manyok, who is 25 years old, said a lack of food, water and medication is a big problem for the IDPs

He said some of the IDPs are almost dying of hunger and nobody is giving them food to eat.

The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, however, said it is stepping up efforts to provide food to people affected by the floods.

Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management Minister Peter Mayen Majongdit acknowledged the looming hunger in many areas across the country caused by several factors including floods, pests and the effects of COVID-19.

Mayen said food prepositioning will start in Warrap, Eastern Equatoria, Jonglei and greater Pibor.

He assured of continued collaboration with development partners to mitigate future disasters.

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