South Sudan

Additional investment in flood mitigation needed to avert climate disaster in South Sudan

News and Press Release
Originally published
View original

(Juba, 29 October 2021) As flooding continues to impact people throughout South Sudan, the humanitarian community is working with the Government of South Sudan to support the hundreds of thousands of people affected. Close to 800,000 people have been affected to date by rising waters across the country since May, in particular in Jonglei, Unity, and Upper Nile states.

On 28 October, a high-level visit to Bor County, Jonglei State brought together a diverse group ranging from the United Nations (UN) peace, development and humanitarian pillars, Government of South Sudan represented by the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC) and the Office of H.E. Vice President Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior, Embassy of Turkey as well as the University of Juba, to see firsthand the impact of the flooding.

“Through this visit, we heard the voices of the people, the government and teams responding to the flooding in Jonglei State,” Arafat Jamal, the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator ad interim in South Sudan, said. “We witnessed the devastating effects of flooding but also saw hopeful efforts in terms of flood mitigation which has saved countless lives.”

Affected communities spoke of entire villages uprooted as water inundated homes and farmlands, as well as a dramatic reduction in their access to essential health services, especially for expectant mothers. Concerns regarding the disruption to education were also raised, with parents increasingly worried about the impact of displacement on their children.

“Through the distribution of food assistance, shelter items, lives have been saved – but it’s not enough. The UN humanitarian response is just 62 per cent funded,” noted Jamal. The Resident Coordinator also pledged the continued support of the humanitarian community to the people of South Sudan and called for more intensive efforts to help communities adapt to changing weather patterns which has affected food security and sparked conflict as people seek safety on higher ground. “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.”

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 an unprecedented US $10million to support flood relief efforts, which will be implemented in partnership with the international community,” noted Jamal.

Climate adaptation projects also sent a positive signal, with early works on a 180km dyke, which is five meters high and 20 meters wide, now underway. The dyke will stretch from Bor to Malakal and will protect a huge swathe of territory including livestock, farmlands and all communities along the way.

Calling for the international community to build on the Government’s efforts to avert a climate catastrophe, Jamal underscored the UN’s commitment to save lives in the immediate term but also to look ahead. “Our desire to work together with the people of South Sudan and to help this country which is on the frontline of the global climate crisis. We are here to support communities as they deal with the increasingly frequent flood and drought events.”

For further information, please contact:
Allen Poni [Office of the Resident Coordinator]
Aoife Mcdonnell [UNHCR]
Anthony Burke [OCHA]

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit