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DEATH-Knell in wetlands due to oil exploration

Hon. Josephine Napwon Cosmos

By Lodu William Odiya

The Minister of Environment and Forestry, Josephine Napwon Cosmos has said that the exploration of oil and the possible resumption of the Jonglei canal project poses a major threat to the existence of Africa’s largest wetlands, the Sudd.

The Sudd system stretches from Mangalla to the Sobat/White Nile confluence near Malakal and covers an estimated area of 57,000 square kilometres. About 1 million people live along the Sudd and depend on it for fishing and water for their animals among others.

Several blocks where oil lies within the Sudd wetlands.

At the event marking World Wetlands Day in Juba yesterday, Minister Napwon said the possible resumption of Jonglei Canal and oil exploration could reduce the wet and dry season flow of water and impact the ecology of the wetlands.

“The Jonglei Canal project, which is currently on hold could reduce wet and dry season flow by 20 and ten per cent respectively, thus impacting the wetland’s ecology and consequently its inhabitants,” Ms. Napwon said.

The Sudd wetland is regarded as a giant filter that controls and normalizes water quality and stabilizes its flow.

Ms. Napwon said the Sudd system provided water for domestic, livestock and wildlife use, and was also an important source of fish.

“The Sudd wetland is internationally recognized for its unique ecological attributes that include various endangered mammalian species, antelope migrations, millions of Palaearctic migratory birds and large fish population,” she said.

Ms. Napwon revealed that her ministry would develop a sustainable wetlands strategy and management plan to address the challenges faced by Sudd wetlands.

“It is urgent that we raise national and global awareness about wetlands in order to reverse their rapid loss and encourage actions to conserve and restore them”

The undersecretary in the ministry, Joseph AfricanoBartel said that Sudd which was the largest wetland in the region could be able to reduce the impact of climate change.

“Anything that happens in the area simply means it will be emitting carbon then it would exaggerate the problem of climate change, because of climate change, flooding would increase,” he said.

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