United Nations Humanitarian agencies have warned of dire hunger in South Sudan as torrential rains and flooding submerge villages, gardens and livestock.
World Food Programme in a statement on Wednesday said the floods have created the threat of “catastrophic” levels of hunger and left hundreds of thousands homeless with 700,000 people already in severe crisis.
“There is a very significant flood, which is covering vast areas of the country. More than 36 counties of the country are under water, submerging entire villages, homes, farmsteads, killing livestock and putting an end to livelihoods,” said Matthew Hollingworth, WFP Country Director.
According to UN agencies, across the greater Jonglei and Unity State, homes and clinics have been submerged, communities stranded, animals dead in the fields and schools taken over by homeless locals.
The WFP official described the flooding as likely the worst in 60 years and explained that this year’s rains had begun before last year’s flood waters had receded fully.
The devastation has adversely pushed the number of vulnerable people in need of humanitarian assistance to 5.5 million people, which is half of the total population.
It should be noted that the 2019 flooding was already unprecedented and had led to the expansion of wetlands, the Sobat and Nile basins and this year’s crisis is expected to be even more severe, as the peak of the flood season still lies ahead.
WFP is particularly concerned that crops have been lost in worst affected Jonglei state, where 85,000 people have been displaced by rising waters and some 230,000 people have experienced flooding more than once.
“We have seen harvests being decimated in Jonglei state as 45 per cent of all the land that was planted with cereals and sorghum – the mainstay of the diet – have been lost this year. That comes in addition to what we saw very similar last year,” said Hollingworth.
He added: “This flooding crisis is coming on top of a very grim hunger situation in Jonglei, where already this year 1.4 million people were suffering from acute and severe hunger, in addition to over 300,000 children under five who are acutely malnourished.”
The current crisis is exacerbated by the political turmoil in the country characterized by armed conflict since December 2013.