Last year, entire villages were wiped out by the worst flooding South Sudan has faced in years. Many of them are now abandoned and large areas have turned to swamps. The water still hasn’t receded in the majority of places – more rain keeps falling and it’s putting everyone at risk. Here is an update on what’s happening and how you can pray.
‘The flooding changed so many things for people in South Sudan,’ shares Anthony Rama, who leads Tearfund’s work in South Sudan. ‘People were forced to move around on boats, risk drowning or being attacked by crocodiles.
‘The harvests were also completely destroyed – all the crops and livestock gone. Last year’s harvest in July should have fed people until this spring. But it was all washed away. Hunger is a pressing issue now for too many people.’
Returning to nothing
Tabitha* fled with her family to a refugee camp in northern Uganda when the floods came. She returned earlier this year to find her house completely destroyed. Her family now live in an abandoned house – and are aware that the owners could return at any time. But it’s all they have.
‘Life is very difficult here,’ shares Tabitha. ‘I am now surviving through very difficult means, going out using the canoe to fetch firewood in the water and later on come and sell it to get little money to buy food for my children. My husband is not here, he is in Juba [the capital city] trying to look for a job but is getting nothing.
‘There is nowhere one can cultivate to grow crops for survival.’
And to add to this, Tabitha’s home is still surrounded by water – which keeps rising.
‘I lost everything’
Peter* and his wife, Martha*, have two young children aged three and one. They had to abandon everything when the floods came – relocating to another village.
‘Life before the floods was good because I used to cultivate sorghums [a type of cereal crop] and raised some cattle. I had about 40 cows and bulls, 20 goats and more than 35 chickens. But my village was flooded, I lost everything,’ says Peter.
‘Currently, my family survives by collecting and selling firewood and bundles of dry grass. Sometimes I go fishing. I sell these fish and collect some small money to buy food for the family.’
Peter and Martha hope to be able to move back eventually. But as the rains keep falling, there is no telling when this will be.