South Sudan

Canal-Pigi County Rapid Assessment: Jonglei State, South Sudan, October 2021

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  • Flooding has reportedly led to displacement since November 2020, with the majority of communities moving to the highlands along the Nile and Sobat rivers, as well as along the Jonglei canal. According to KIs, displacement has led to the emergence of new settlements and has substantially increased the size of other settlements in these areas.

  • Focus group discussion (FGD) participants commonly reported that the food security situation was worse than in previous crisis years. This is reportedly due to a combination of factors, including the compounding impacts of two years of consecutive flooding in 2020-21, increased insecurity incidents, reduced ability of households to plant key crops (such as sorghum), and a limited number of households that had received humanitarian food assistance over the past year.

  • Flooding has led to widespread collapse of livelihoods, severely affecting the ability of households to cultivate and maintain livestock, and decreasing community and household coping capacities. Canal-Pigi is situated within the Eastern Plains Sorghum and Cattle livelihood zone, where livelihoods depend on cultivation of sorghum and livestock rearing in a normal year. As flood waters remained high during the dry season in 2021, very few households were reportedly able to plant any crops and no sorghum harvest is expected in 2021.

  • FGD participants reported households’ inability to rear livestock due to depleted cattle herds resulting from cattle raiding, and diseases as a result of the recent floods. In addition, with most remaining herd reportedly having moved away due to fears of continued flooding, access to cattle remains atypically low and is unlikely to improve until the flood waters recede.

  • Fishing remained a primary food source. However, according to FGD participants, strong currents and high water levels during the rainy season meant that only a few households with access to canoes and fishing nets were able to fish. Wild foods have reportedly become the main food source for those households that were unable to fish. Findings indicate that market functionality also remains minimal due to the limited purchasing capacity of consumers.

  • In addition to reliance on fishing and wild foods, FGD participants reported that community members were engaging in extreme coping strategies such as begging, restricting consumption of adults, only eating one meal per day, and skipping meals for consecutive days.

  • All the while, findings suggest that communal coping mechanisms, such as communal sharing and chiefs courts, have degraded substantially, due to a decline in the proportion of middle class and wealthy households, limited availability resources to share, and reduced power among chiefs, further limiting their ability to facilitate resource sharing.

  • Humanitarian service providers reported that provision of aid has been challenged by the floods, with disruptions and delays in services. Flooding and insecurity have also created several barriers for communities to access humanitarian food distribution points, especially in the payams of Alam, Mat, Atar and Wunlem.

  • According to humanitarian service providers, at the time of the assessment, health and nutrition services remained severely affected with restocking of supplies being a key challenge.

  • Infrastructure for health care services in Canal-Pigi was reportedly extremely basic, with only Primary Health Care Units (PHCU) functioning. Most severe illness cases were reportedly referred to Malakal. However, as journeys to Malakal remain costly and time consuming, most KIs reported households were not able to make the long journeys to access health and nutrition services within the county.

  • According to humanitarian service providers, the county does not have a Stabilisation Centre (SC) to treat children with medical complications due to Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM). Without any functioning SC, children suffering from SAM are unlikely to recover, which could result in excess mortality, especially amongst vulnerable groups. With limited information on excess mortality, a SMART survey would be essential to understand the severity of SAM and Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM).

  • FGD participants reported consuming wild foods for two years in a row now. Dependance on wild foods has reportedly led to sickness, particularly amongst younger children. With inadequate dietary intakes and no access to SC, excess mortality cases could increase.

  • KIs reported that there have been no registrations of host communities since 2019 and IDPs were last registered in August 2021. Findings indicate that humanitarian response has not factored in recent movements of populations, while locations and size of settlements changed considerably since the last registrations.