Melut County is located in Upper-Nile
state. It is bordered by four counties in the same state: Manyo County
in the south west, Maaban County in the east, Baliet County in the south
and Renk County in the north. Melut County is situated in the Nile Sobat
zone and along East of Nile corridor which it shares with Manyo County
in the western bank of the river.
The county counts six administrative Payams namely Melut, Paloch, Bemichuk, Galdora, Wunamom and Panamdit. Administratively it falls into the jurisdiction of the central government, under the auspices of Government of South Sudan (GoSS) and Government of Sudan (GoS), that has headquarters in Melut Payam.
It is characterised by flat, low lying and vast plains, with black cotton soils. Savannah grasslands and acacia trees are the typical vegetative cover. The banks of Nile and its small seasonal tributaries such as river Awilwil and Thor Ager criss-crossing the county determine the settlement patterns of the villages. These rivers are the main sources of drinking water, fishing grounds and watering points for the community livestock especially during the dry season. River Nile is also central to long distance migration and transport into and out of Melut and the adjoining counties.
There are different communities coexisting in Melut County. The major ones being Dinka, Shilluk, Burun, Furs, Nubians and Nuer. Other communities are in minority (Murle and Anyuak). The population is estimated at 128, 571(1) persons.
The predominant livelihoods of the communities in this region are agro-pastoralism, formal and informal employment and small scale trading. Fishing is practiced on a small scale. An important proportion of the population relies heavily on kinship support.
Melut County is located along the migratory
path of the Nile River and road network. Therefore it counts many migrants
that are mainly settling in the cosmopolitan areas of Melut, Paloch and
This has a constraining effect on food security situation of the hosts, who provided kinship support. The movement of people into Melut was unprecedented and could have began as early as November 2006 as a result of conflict between Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) and Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in Malakal town, which, is not far from Melut town2. 60 in-migrants were reported to be coming to Melut Payam every week(3).
According to a Fewsnet report in January 2007, food security was expected to remain stable for most of the households in this region during the dry season (between January and April 2007), following harvests which started in October 2006. However, the arrival of displaced people in the area could destabilize the food security situation, by causing strain on available food and increased food prices(4).
The water and sanitation situation is poor as well: the water reportedly consumed in the region is untreated and there is no proper system of human waste disposal in the vastly populated human settlements, thus predisposing the communities to immediate and underlying causes of malnutrition such as diseases and poor child care practices respectively(5).
In the last two years ACF-USA implemented
surveys in Payuer, that is located in Melut County. Only Galdora and Panamdit
payams were covered. This year, the good security conditions allowed the
full county to be covered.
The results of the previous surveys are therefore not comparable to this one's, but are given are as an indicator (in Z-scores, reference NCHS):
April 2005: Global Acute Malnutrition:(GAM) 28.1% [23.4%-33.3%.C.I. 95%]; Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM): 4.5%[2.6%-7.4%]
March 2006: GAM: 20.8%; SAM: 1.7% (exhaustive survey).
In consideration of the food security context, population movement and past malnutrition rates, ACF-USA decided to undertake a nutrition survey to establish the nutritional status of the community in Melut County.
The survey which was implemented between 12th February and 14th March 2007 was guided by the following objectives:
- To evaluate the nutritional status of children aged 6 to 59 months.
- To estimate the measles immunization coverage of children aged 9 to 59 months.
- To identify the sex at higher risk to malnutrition. ? To estimate the crude mortality rate through a retrospective survey.
- To determine immediate, basic and underlying factors influencing the nutrition situation of the community.
- To identify priority areas in program implementation
(1) Source: SSRRC Melut 2007
(2) Southern Sudan Food Security update (Fewsnet) January 2007
(3) Med air Assessment July, 2006.
(4) Source: SSRRC Melut
(5) Med air Assessment July, 2006.