UN calls for more funding to mitigate floods in South Sudan

UN calls for more funding to mitigate floods in South Sudan
Arafat Jamal, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan (photo credit: courtesy)

The United Nations has called on the international community to support the government of South Sudan in setting up dykes, canals, extraction pumps to mitigate the impacts of flooding.

The UN attributed flooding which continues to affect people throughout the country especially those leaving along the river to climate change.

The agency said close to 800,000 people have been affected by the rising water levels across the country since May, particularly in Jonglei, Unity, and Upper Nile states.

On October 28, a team of delegations from the government and the humanitarian actors visited Bor County in Jonglei State to assess the impact of floods in the area.

The delegation included officers from the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC), the Office of the Vice President for Gender and Youth Cluster Rebecca Nyandeng, Embassy of Turkey as well as the University of Juba.

In a press release shared to media after returning from Bor, the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator and interim in South Sudan, Arafat Jamal, stressed the importance of additional investment in the construction of dykes, water canals, and extraction pumps to help address the disturbing flooding impacts. 

Jamal said the focus was on climate adaptation projects with early works on a 180km dyke. The dyke will be five metres high and 20 metres wide and will be constructed from Bor to Malakal to protect a ‘‘huge swathe of territory including livestock, farmlands, and all communities along the Nile’’.

To achieve that, the resident coordinator called for concerted efforts to help communities adapt to changing weather patterns, which has affected food security and sparked conflict as people seek safety on higher ground.

Making efforts         

“We are looking at what we can do better, including to re-orientate our assistance to development initiatives such as investment in dykes, canals, extraction pumps, and intensive dialogues with communities to ensure peaceful coexistence,” said Jamal in the statement.

Last week, members of parliament held a debate on the devastating impact of floods on the people across the country and resolved to treat the case as an urgent matter.

One of the MPs, David Okwier Akway, urged the government to build more water systems such as lakes and canals to reserve the excess flooding water for agricultural activities.

The UN chief said the delegation had a chance to interact with the affected people in the state, the government, and humanitarian teams responding to the flooding.

According to him, the communities whose homes and farmlands have been submerged by the water have highlighted limited access to essential services such as health. The impact has also led to the displacement of their children after schools were submerged.

“We witnessed the devastating effects of flooding but also saw hopeful efforts in terms of flood mitigation which has saved countless lives through the distribution of food assistance, shelter items, lives have been saved but it’s not enough,” he said.

“On the ground in Jonglei, the visiting delegation met with communities who have already established a system for disaster management, and also witnessed the government taking responsibility. 

“At the national level, the Government has committed the unprecedented US $10million to support flood relief efforts, which will be implemented in partnership with the international community,” Jamal added.

He said the humanitarian community will continue to work with the government of South Sudan to support communities as they deal with the increasing floods and drought in the country.