South Sudan | November 2022
South Sudan has been facing an unprecedented environmental crisis since 2019, with relentless rain seasons causing widespread flooding and destruction throughout the country, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee their homes. The situation is so severe that multi-year inundations of this scale have not been seen in South Sudan in more than six decades.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the devastating floods have impacted nearly one million people directly, leaving them with no access to medical care, food, safe water, and other basic needs. The floods have caused extensive infrastructural damage to roads, bridges, schools, sanitation, and hygiene facilities, making it difficult for humanitarian organizations to provide direct assistance to the affected communities. The already challenging access to basic life-saving services has been further worsened by the floods.
South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, gained independence in 2011 following a referendum in which the majority voted for secession from the north of the country. However, the country has been struggling to find its footing in the aftermath of a devastating 40-year civil war, compounded by major famines that caused over two million deaths. The country’s political struggles and ethnic violence led to a bloody civil war less than two years after its independence.
The climate crisis has only exacerbated the already vulnerable situation in South Sudan, bringing the country ever closer to collapse. Mayendit, one of the villages heavily impacted by the floods, has become an island surrounded by floodwaters, with access only possible through an 8-hour canoe journey. The floods have disrupted markets and livelihoods, further worsening the already precarious situation for the affected communities. Two-thirds of the population has fled to the dryer and more stable ground, becoming internally displaced persons (IDPs), while those who remain are struggling to survive.
Mayendit, one of the villages in South Sudan impacted by the recent floods, is facing an extremely challenging situation. The residents spend most of their days extracting floodwaters from the dry land, fishing, and collecting water lilies to survive. Children are suffering from severe malnutrition, with many showing symptoms of ascites, a condition characterized by a swollen abdomen filled with fluid. Adding to their struggles, water and vector-borne diseases such as malaria are on the rise, further exacerbating the dire situation.
Mayendit is now submerged underwater as far as the eye can see, with no sign of reprieve in sight. The people of South Sudan are in urgent need of immediate assistance to combat the dire consequences of the climate crisis and prevent further devastation.