Throughout 2021, insecurity and flooding have simultaneously driven large-scale displacement and prevented vulnerable populations, particularly in the Greater Luachjang region of Tonj East, from undertaking displacement journeys to access food and services. Greater Luachjang communities have reportedly been unable to displace to the north, east or south due to tensions with communities in the neighbouring counties of Tonj North, Mayendit (Unity State), and Rumbek North (Lakes State). Vulnerable groups also reportedly face substantial challenges displacing to the west, as this involves travelling through insecure areas where internally displaced persons (IDPs) have reportedly been robbed and killed. Barriers to movement in Tonj East have been further compounded by flooding, which has, according to focus group discussion (FGD) participants, prevented almost all movement out of Greater Luachjang.
Insecurity has reportedly prevented many households in Tonj East from cultivating. Households in Tonj East that have been able to cultivate have largely done so in close proximity to their homestead, and according to FGD participants, harvested food stocks are expected to be exhausted as early as November/December 2021. As such, communities in the east of Tonj East are likely to continue to experience atypically severe, widespread and prolonged food consumption gaps unless humanitarian access improves in the near term.
Access to livestock has been atypically low throughout the 2021 lean season, during which reliance on cattle is generally highest. Widespread insecurity has reportedly resulted in cattle raiding, particularly in Tonj East, and a change in cattle migration routes resulting in cattle migrating away from the homestead. Access to cattle is unlikely to improve in the near to medium term, leaving highly vulnerable groups without access to livestock products and cash.
Access to humanitarian services is likely to decrease further in the near-term. Throughout 2021, the caseload, ration size and duration of humanitarian food assistance (HFA) in Tonj South and Tonj East increased, however, the centralisation of distribution points from May onwards has meant that vulnerable populations have had to travel atypically long distances to access food distributions. According to humanitarian service providers, no further food assistance is planned post September. Continued provision of HFA will play a crucial role in reducing atypically severe food consumption gaps throughout the ‘harvest’ period, which usually runs from September until November, and the post harvest period.
According to humanitarian service providers, the provision of health and nutrition services has improved since May, however, persistent insecurity has limited the ability of service providers to transport medical supplies, particularly into, and through, the Greater Luachjang area of Tonj East. Service providers reported that all supplies for these communities are being moved through Wunlit, a settlement far south of the main road, causing substantial delays. Insecurity has reportedly deterred humanitarian service providers from transporting large shipments to minimise the risk of looting. Access to health and nutrition services is expected to decrease in the near term, as temporary facilities close at the end of September.
Findings suggest that community level coping capacity has been negatively affected by an erosion of livelihoods, and a consequent lack of assets redistribute. Mass displacement to populated areas has placed substantial pressure on host community reserves and IDPs displaced to Tonj Town consistently reported that host community members have been encouraging them to return to their settlements.