Hundreds of thousands affected by heavy flooding in the South


Heavy flooding has affected an estimated 380,000 people in South Sudan, with overflowing rivers submerging homes and displacing families in the impoverished country, UN aid agency OCHA said on Tuesday.

Almost three-quarters of those affected are in two states – Unity and Jonglei – OCHA said in a briefing note, warning of “more heavy rains and flooding expected in the coming months.”

“Access is a major challenge, with the majority of flood-affected areas inaccessible by road,” the agency said, as aid workers struggle to get supplies to displaced populations.

Michael Gai, who fled with his family to Bor, the capital of Jonglei, said many people were unable to move to safer areas.

“The floods are coming from all directions, east-south, north and west,” he told AFP.

“A lot of people have left some of the flooded areas, but there are people who have stayed because of their vulnerability, they cannot get out of the place,” he said. The elderly residents were in a particularly precarious condition, he added.

Rising waters triggered by the early seasonal rains inundated farmland, killing livestock and destroying fragile thatched huts, a year after record flooding affected some 700,000 people.

About 100,000 of those displaced in last year’s disaster have still not returned home, while relentless rains have left farmland submerged for more than a year, OCHA said.

Soaring costs

The devastation also spiked prices, as damage to roads severely slowed agricultural production and hampered transport, said Bol Deng, a resident of Bor.

“Local production is very low (…) (transport) is somehow blocked so nothing comes to local markets,” he told AFP.

“So as a result, things got very expensive,” he added.

OCHA warned of limited supplies and a lack of funding, saying more cash was “needed to scale up the response to reach communities affected by the combination of shocks.”

The agency said it had only received 54% of the $ 1.7 billion (€ 1.4 billion) needed to fund programs in the country.

Four in five of South Sudan’s 11 million people live in “absolute poverty”, according to the World Bank in 2018, while more than 60% of its population suffers from severe hunger due to the combined effects of conflict, drought and floods.

Since gaining independence from Sudan in 2011, the young nation has been in the throes of a chronic economic and political crisis and has struggled to recover from the consequences of a five-year civil war that claimed nearly 400,000 people. dead.

While a 2018 ceasefire and power-sharing agreement between President Salva Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar is still broadly valid, it is under strain, with little progress being made in meeting terms. of the peace process.



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