Women in flooded states struggle to sustain families

Women in flooded states struggle to sustain families
A family affected by floods in Ganyiel area in Unity State relocates to a higher ground (photo credit: ICRC)

The majority of women in the flood-affected states have been hit hard as they struggle to provide food for their families.

Nyarieka Malual, a 46-year old mother of 12 from Nyaatuat village in Old Fangak, Jonglei State, is one of the women bearing the consequences of the floods. 

The City Review caught up with Malual who narrated how she had been adversely affected by the flood that she said had swept away crops and left people with limited food sources. 

 “In August before the rain started, life was really good. We had millet, sorghum, maize and cattle. We used to milk the cows and get milk to feed my mother and the children,” she recalled.

 “When it came to financial needs, in case you did not have money for buying a soap or salt, you could just go to the forest and collect firewood and then take it to the riverside and sell them and then you get money to buy other things for the children,” she added.

The nostalgic Malual further revealed that the harsh overflowing water had robbed them of their property, hence compounding their problems.

“We even had our properties and we were feeling good we had no problems dealing with hunger’’.

But now, the floodwaters have overwhelmed the paths leading to farmlands, leaving Malual—the sole breadwinner of the family—with little choice of having to feed her family on water lilies.

“Food is not enough anymore and we keep eating the same type of food like water lilies which we get from the river.”

“Sometimes we try fishing although it is very difficult without a fishing net. So, at times you will go and try to fish and you end up returning home with no fish and you end up eating the lily flowers every day,” Ms Malual said.

The flooding has affected a larger portion of the country, with experts drawn from the United Nations linking these changes to climate change. 

The same grim story applies to Nyantiet Bijien, 40, a mother of six from Pagwer village in Unity State, who also recounted her sorrows inflicted by the floods. 

Things have changed…         

Like Malual, Bijien also relied on scavenging on pieces of dried firewood which they sell to earn a living to buy essential commodities for the family. But things have now changed. 

“We had enough food by then but today we don’t have enough food. The only meals we are having are water lilies, which we get from the river.”

“Sometimes we do fishing, but when you lose a fishing net, that means that you will have no fish.”

“We come and dry up the water lilies and then we start grinding it so that that is the source of food.”

Malual’s home has been submerged by floodwater and her family lost everything including their clothes and bedding.

“We used to sleep very conformably but now that has changed. As you can see inside my house, there is a bed but no mattress. We had enough mosquito nets but they are no more; we used to walk in our compound but now we can’t”. 

The dykes that were meant to protect women from floods have now become a safe refuge for them. 

However, Malual always lives in constant fear in case the dykes break all the remnants of her belonging would be washed away.