Although annual flooding happens each year in South Sudan, in the past few years it has become more severe and reaching places it did not before.
Along the roads, outside the town of Aweil in South Sudan, families have erected makeshift homes using branches and plastic sheeting. They were forced to flee to higher ground when heavy rainfall caused floods to gush through the streets.
Market stalls, offices and homes, often constructed using local materials such as mud, wooden poles and thatch, collapsed or were swept away. In the outlying farming areas, fields of mature sorghum, beans and groundnuts were completely submerged and destroyed. The heavy rain was relentless, pouring more and more water into the already stagnant flood areas.
“This is a terrible situation,” said one market-stall owner, struggling to speak in the shock of her sudden new circumstances. “I used to sell bedsheets in the market. Now that is gone. My children can’t go to school because there is too much water.” She points to her small shack, which now has to house her family of nine.
“There is no one to help me,” she said.
South Sudan is prone to annual flooding, usually from July to September, in certain areas and people have adapted their living and farming around this “wet season”. In recent years, however, flooding patterns have changed and has occurred in places where it never used to. Land is still submerged after the worst floods in 60 years struck in 2020. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced and their usual agricultural activities have been put on hold indefinitely.
“This will make these citizens face difficult living conditions and they will not find anything to eat in the coming days,” Information Minister William Nyuon Kuol said after visiting Aweil.
Floods also put people, especially pregnant and breastfeeding women and children, at risk of water-borne diseases and malaria. Water becomes contaminated quickly as people are forced to huddle together in confined spaces without adequate sanitation.
ForAfrika and partners immediately carried out a needs assessment and the initial findings were that in Aweil South, Aweil Centre and Aweil Town, at least 187,248 people have been affected; 35,994 of whom no longer have a home.
ForAfrika will provide lifesaving Non-Food Item (NFI) household kits to 1,000 flood-affected households. These comprise mosquito nets, mattresses, blankets and plastic sheeting.
“In all our programmes ForAfrika upholds the critical principle of actively involving communities in driving their own solutions. We will, therefore, conduct continuous assessment to determine how to support families in the recovery of their livelihoods,” says ForAfrika’s country director in South Sudan, Abeba Amene.
“Climate change is real and urgent. It is driving more extreme weather events that are negatively affecting people’s lives and livelihoods. We need to ensure that they are able to mitigate its devastating effects.”