Poverty stares at flood-struck Jonglei farmers

Poverty stares at flood-struck Jonglei farmers
A homestead devastated by flooding in Jonglei State (photo credit: Sheila Ponnie)

The recent heavy rainfall and devastating flooding have caused serious havoc in the Old Fangak County of Jonglei State.

Jonglei state remains one of the most-hit areas.  Farmlands have been inundated with huge hectares of crops waterlogged and animals marooned in their camps. For example, crops like millet and sorghum have been completely submerged into water.

Crisis felt

Kuong Wuol, a 32-year old husband of two wives, said life in the community has drastically changed due to the flood menace.

Wuol, who works as a security guard in one of the NGOs in the area, added the whole village was sunk in the water, hence restricting movement.

He revealed that he relied on a boat to sail through the Rive Nile to earn a living for the family.

 “Life has really changed, I planted maize, okra and even vegetables and we used not to buy anything but now when my children come; we have to buy everything from the market.”

He added that everything has been lost including his family property.

 “My children can no longer go to school because the roads are flooded even the feeding situations here have changed.

“I used to harvest crops from home and not think of buying any food items from the market, but now everything is so difficult we have to buy even Okra something that I had before.”

Wuol said he has to work day and night to meet the family demands.

“Life was better in the village here before the flood but now we are buying food from the traders yet even the money is too little you have to work day and night.”

Joseph Nin Jal, 60, a farmer in Nyaatuat village, Fangak County, said: “My farm is affected by the floods; my millet, vegetables, tomatoes have all been submerged.”

Joseph, who is a father of 15 children and husband of three wives, is now counting losses after the torrential rains hit his village, leaving a trail of destruction.

The old man is not just counting the losses of food crops but also the livestock that he considered the source of wealth and prestige have gone. Several kraals including those in the neighbourhoods have submerged into a swamp of water.

Joseph said he lost about 100 cows which he said had made a dramatic negative change to his life.

“It’s not me alone who has been affected by the floods, the entire village has been affected,” he said.

“I used to live together with my children and all my property but now my children are not with me,” he added.

“Some of them went to a place where it is dry and now I live alone here and some of my property was destroyed by the floods,” Joseph said.

Farmlands have been stripped bare as farmers like Joseph struggle to salvage what they can to survive.

However, several people including Joseph have now embarked on fishing as an alternative means of survival. He said, “there is food in that boat and that food is fish, which I will feed with my children.”

Impending danger

According to him, what worries the village is the stagnant water that is now providing breeding grounds for diseases.

“We now have diseases like malaria and typhoid that are affecting us.

 “The food that the children will have is there inside the canoe. That food is fish. But even that it is really difficult because getting fish can easily result in attacks by snakes,” Joseph said.

He said even the canoe is in very bad shape and he had no idea of what might happen in case it breaks down.

Despite all the challenges people like Joseph still harbour the hope that someday, they would revert to farming to feed family and eke a living.

“I plan to build dykes and when the area becomes dry, I will plant Okra, mangoes, and other crops that my children survive.”

The 60-year-old appealed to the government and humanitarian agencies for basic needs such as food and medicines and mosquito nets.