By Roger Alfred Yoron Modi
Part of Bor town seen in floods [Photo by Jacob Aluong]
JUBA – The government and humanitarian agencies should speed-up humanitarian assistance to the victims of the ongoing flooding in Jonglie State, activist and founder of Nonviolent Youth Initiative Jacob Aloung who just returned from Bor town and witnessed the devastation says.
“I have been moving between Bor since this flooding started. I have a small team of Nonviolent Youth Initiative volunteers that I have set up to help the most vulnerable people. So I travelled there on Saturday to meet them and encourage them on what they are doing and also help them distribute some items to the most affected people,” Aluong said on Sawa Sawa Network’s program The Weekly Review hosted by the author of this article on Monday.
“The floods started earlier between June and July and it has devastated the whole of Jonglie State. When you go to Pibor Administrative Area, people are crying. In the northern counties in Jonglie like Uror or Fangak people are really affected and people are leaving the area. The flooding also devastated Bor, Duk and Twic East, some counties are completely deserted. Counties for example like Twic East is completely deserted except few people who are still camping in the headquarters of the County in Panyagor. They are camping in Church premises and schools that are still not affected. They have surrounded themselves with dykes…You can travel for hours between Bor and Twic and you just use the main road as the guide to take you to Twic East. We don’t use vehicles anymore or the main Nile. We just use the main highway using the light boats. And that describes how the level of water is very extreme this season.”
The activist lamented that the level of response since the flooding started have not been to the expectation as the parties to the revitalized peace agreement were stalled in forming the unity government, especially at the state level.
“That gap created a lot of challenges. The coordination of humanitarian activities were not done well. And that has led to the movement of people randomly. Some decided to come to Mongalla where there are no humanitarian agencies or even the government of police protection until recently,” Aluong said, adding that other challenges as a result of the flooding include hunger, increase in prices of goods and lack of easy access to medical facilities.
“Farms have been completely destroyed. People will not expect any harvest. This was supposed to be harvest season. But farms have been entirely destroyed by the floods. So people are likely to starve in the next few months. People of Jonglie are Agro-pastoralist. They cultivate and also keep cattle,” he said.
“Cattle have been driven out of the State as we speak. And that has also excavated the level of malnutrition among children who used to depend on milk. They are now struggling to survive. The flooding has also cut people out from accessing medical facilities and markets. Markets are running out of supplies and the few goods that are available are very expensive as hundreds of thousands of people are fighting over those few items.”
According to the activist, in order to help rescue the people affected by the flooding, the government should consider setting up mobile clinics at the outskirt of Bor, establish a hotline to help pick people and procure speedboats to help ferry patients with complicated cases to the main hospital.
Tensions with Host Communities over Cattle
Further, on the same Show, Aluong lamented that he is “very worried” over the “ongoing tensions” between host communities in Eastern and Central Equaoria States and cattle keepers who migrated from Jonglie because of the flooding.
“That is not healthy for our co-existence. They used to come in smaller numbers but this time they are completely swept out and they will be disturbing the host communities and that is worrisome. That is one of the challenges that have come with the floods this year,” he said.
The activist called upon all the communities to recognize their needs and keep communication between themselves, adding that he expects those from Jonglie to stay like guests, not as owners of the areas.
Aluong said: “They need to talk, they need to understand that they all have needs and they all need each other as people of South Sudan. Cattle keepers should not allow their cattle to encroach to farms because those communities depend on those farms.
“I would like the leaders of all the communities to find common ground where they can always interact and maybe agree on some issues. Should a cow cross into someone’s farm, they need to find how to deal with that. Maybe levy some fines on those who have failed to look after their cattle and maybe create certain zones where cattle will be kept far away from the farms.
“The host communities could help the cattle keepers by informing them about the best area for keeping cattle far from farms. That will be helpful if they can share that information. The leaders of the cattle keepers also need to tell the host communities that they are in their area temporarily, they ran away because of the flooding and when the water recedes, they will be very happy to go back to their state.”
The full program is available on Sawa Sawa Network’s Youtube Channel and the below and its Facebook page.