South Sudan and Sudan experiencing severe seasonal flooding with their relief pipelines at risk of breaking, warns the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
Almost half a million people are affected by flooding along the Nile and Lol rivers and Sudd marshlands so far in 2021. Immediate pipeline breaks are expected in water, sanitation and hygiene supplies, emergency shelter and non-food items in coming months if not replenished, said Jens Laerke, OCHA’s spokesperson, at a news briefing today at the United Nations in Geneva.
“In South Sudan, OCHA has received reports of almost half a million people affected by flooding along the Nile and Lol rivers and Sudd marshlands so far this year”, Laerke said. He added that “Humanitarian teams are helping those in need. Jonglei, Unity, Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Upper Nile are the worst affected states. These are also states with a high proportion of people facing crisis and emergency food insecurity.”
The UN and NGOs have been responding with food, water purification tablets, plastic sheeting for temporary shelter, mosquito nets, medical supplies and other assistance.
According to Jens Laerke, “access is a major challenge, though, with most of the flood-affected areas inaccessible by road, and the transport of aid by air is very costly.”
The people affected by flooding reflects a 23 per cent increase in the numbers of people reported to be affected since the end of August.
“Some of the flood-affected counties are also affected by ongoing violence, which creates significant challenges for the people affected and the humanitarians who try to respond to their needs”, Laerke said.
Rapid needs assessments have been completed in 15 of the 22 counties affected by the flooding in South Sudan. Humanitarians are responding to the needs of people in most of the flood-affected counties. “Dikes repaired in Bor South and Pibor ahead of the floods seem to have helped to protect many areas from flooding since May”, Laerke noted. “However, water levels are now dangerously high in both counties and many dikes are close to overflowing. If that happens, the impact on people already deemed vulnerable due to previous years of flooding, violence, and food insecurity will be devastating.”
The US$1.7 billion response plan for South Sudan is currently 61 per cent funded.
In Sudan, more than 314,000 people have also been affected by heavy rains since July.
Fourteen states out of 18 in Sudan have been hit by the floods and the number of people affected has increased more than five-fold since the end of August. White Nile, Gedaref and Aj Jazirah states in the south-east are the worst hit.
The UN in Sudan has made projections for the remainder of the year and warns that without additional resources, 330,000 people would not receive adequate water, sanitation and hygiene support, 290,000 would be left without a shelter response; and over a quarter of a million people would be deprived of essential health services.