South Sudan

UNMISS engineers construct new dyke to protect Bor residents from floods

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MACH SAMUEL/FILIP ANDERSSON

Engineering troops serving with the the United Nations Mission in South Sudan are constructing a second dyke to protect residents in Bor from the floods that have plagued Jonglei State over the last few months.

“The situation in Bor municipality is critical. At the same time, I am equally concerned about the population in Pibor and elsewhere, because they are also suffering from floods caused by a runoff of rain water from the Ethiopian highlands,” says Deborah Schein, head of the peacekeeping mission’s field office for Jonglei State and the Greater Pibor Administrative Area.

Described by Ms. Schein as a “stopgap measure to prevent more people from being displaced”, she stresses that much more will have to be done to keep citizens safe in the long run.

“Once the floods subside it will be necessary to repair the dykes, and for Bor municipality to develop a plan to protect the population from flooding in the future,” she says.

While only a temporary solution, the construction of a second dyke, following the peacekeeping mission’s creation of a 7-kilometre-long one to protect Bor’s market back in 2013, offers hope to many a worried citizen, including Ayen Madhor.

“I was thinking about where to relocate my children, but now I am relieved. My house has not been flooded and I believe it will stay that way,” he says.

Although some locals will have to use canoes to cross flooded roads to reach essential places and services like the main market and the hospital, they should no longer need to worry about their homes being inundated. The new dyke, estimated to be completed within three weeks, will stretch around several residential blocks and thus protect their inhabitants.

Over the last seven months, floods have caused enormous disruptions across Jonglei State. According to the South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission, a government humanitarian agency, they have covered some 80 per cent of the state’s land and displaced more than 403,000 of its citizens to higher ground in less struck areas.

Houses have collapsed and lives have been lost, while farming and other livelihoods have also been badly affected. The same is true for humanitarian operations in the state.

According to the national Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources Management, the outpour of water from the Owen Falls Dam in Uganda that caused the banks of the White Nile in Bor to burst has decreased by approximately one third since last month.