Severe flooding in South Sudan has left more than a million people in need of urgent help. It’s the latest humanitarian crisis to hit the world’s youngest country.
Heavy rains have been falling for the past five months. Rivers are overflowing, roads are unusable, and airstrips are flooding. It’s becoming more difficult to reach people with essential supplies such as food, clean water, cooking utensils and materials to build shelters.
Half a million people have been forced to leave their homes because their crops are waterlogged and their animals have drowned.
South Sudan is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change, with flooding one of the main risks.
In the Twic East area, where Tearfund has a field base, the current flooding is the worst in living memory. The whole area is now under water and the only means of travel is either on foot or by canoe. Many houses have been submerged. Our staff have also been forced to relocate.
For the approximately 100,000 people who have lost their homes in the Twic East area since July, the temporary camps are crowded and uncomfortable. Access to drinking water is difficult. Good hygiene practices are challenging without toilets and clean tap water, which increases the risks of waterborne diseases, malaria, and coronavirus.
Eating once a day
‘Because of the flooding, it has become harder to feed my family,’ says Amer Kuol Ajang who is now living in a temporary camp in Twic East.
‘It’s equally difficult maintaining hygiene, keeping social distancing and using proper toilets, due to the fact that many people are gathered in this small place. Since moving to this camp, we have been eating once a day,’ says Amer.
Tearfund and our partners are responding. We’re building toilets, promoting good hygiene messages, and installing surface water collection systems. With the heavy rains there are more fish available in the rivers, so we are training people and giving them the kit to catch fish.
‘The water level in Twic East is as high as the hip at some points and movement is only possible by canoe,’ says Joseph Aloo, Tearfund’s Area Coordinator for Twic East and Pochalla.
‘The main dyke that protects the town keeps breaking every day and the community struggles to patch it with mud stuffed in bags.
‘I was evacuated with other humanitarian workers by a helicopter that rescued us mid-air without landing as there was no place to land. The experience has been very traumatising.
‘People are going to starve if humanitarian assistance isn’t provided urgently. The community has lost their livestock which is a key source of income, and are also facing the risk of waterborne diseases.’
South Sudan is already facing a collapsing economy, widespread malnutrition, violence and conflict, and the challenges of coronavirus. Please join us in prayer.