South Sudan

Pibor Rapid Markets Assessment: Markets in Crisis, February 2021



• Findings suggest that the combined shocks of insecurity and flooding have resulted in low market accessibility and limited market functionality across assessed marketplaces in Pibor county. This is exacerbated by poor road infrastructure within Jonglei State and the subsequent difficulty in transporting goods.

• Changes in road access, in the past two years, have limited various supply routes that were common in the area.

• High prices of commodities in Pibor appear to be driven by high transport costs resulting from reliance upon Juba as a supply market.

• Findings suggest that engagement in productive incomegenerating activities has declined in Pibor since 2019, reportedly due to the limited access to the main livelihood activities as a result of flooding and insecurity.

• As a result, purchasing power among the communities has decreased and engagement in alternative incomegenerating activities, such as fishing, charcoal making, and selling wild foods, cannot provide households with sufficient income.


In October 2020, 70% of the population of Pibor county was determined to be in at least crisis level food security conditions according to the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC), with 11,000 people reportedly facing catastrophic levels of food insecurity. IPC analyses projected that the percentage of the population in crisis conditions would climb throughout the dry season and early wet season to 85% in July.

Within the county, and particularly the western payams, food insecurity has been driven by conflict and climatic shocks (Figure 1).

Pibor County witnessed atypically severe flooding in both 2019 and 2020, exacerbated the worst year of violence recorded since the 2013 civil war (Figure 1).

In February 2020, armed clashes broke out in Lekongole and the surrounding areas, resulting in mass casualties, widespread displacement and the further disruption of lifesaving humanitarian service provision, right at the height of the lean season.

In addition, the violence resulted in destruction of critical civilian infrastructure, including boreholes (often the only source of water), schools, markets, and shelters, as well as loss of livestock through raiding. The violence subsided around July, but was followed by flooding across many parts of the state, which reportedly decimated the remaining livestock holdings and forced populations to once again seek refuge.

Market systems have reportedly been negatively impacted by these shocks, with marketplaces in Pibor, Gumuruk and Lekuangole facing widespread physical damage and limited access to supply routes.

To assist humanitarian organisations to understand local market dynamics, REACH carried out a rapid market assessment in Pibor County, between the 10th and 18th of February 2021, which consisted of 6 focus group discussions (FGDs) with consumers, 5 FGDs with trade unions, additional informal key informant (KI) interviews with traders, local authorities and humanitarian partners, as well as direct observation. Directly assessed marketplaces include Pibor, Gumuruk and Lekuangole. These locations were chosen because of their importance to the overall market system in the region, and to adequately represent various sub-systems that exist within the region. Findings from the assessment are not generalisable with a known level of precision, and should be considered indicative only.