By Wek Atak Kacjang
Active Citizen South Sudan in partnership with the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) has on Thursday conducted a high-level stakeholders’ dialogue on environmental impact in the oil producing areas meant to educate the actors on framework to safeguard the environment and people during the ongoing floods.
The dialogue dubbed “Safe and Healthy Environment for Sustainable Livelihood” involved national legislators drawn from Unity and Upper Nile States, Ruweng Administrative Area, experts from the Ministries of Petroleum, Environment and Water Resource respectively.
“The flood has now become another pandemic like the coronavirus, and with this, we want to see how we can all advocate for safe and healthy environment for better livelihoods in the areas where our communities are left unsafe in the floods,” said Michael Biphal, the Executive Director for Active Citizen South Sudan.
“So, dear honourable members and ministers, this dialogue is basically about sharing ideas in the best interest of all of our communities. We are talking about our communities, our livelihoods and our environment,” he reiterated.
Earlier October, Unity State authorities revealed that, the counties were severely submerged by the floods caused by heavy rains including the main oil producing Melut County in Upper Nile.
The locals feared the flood water would spread anytime and carry petroleum wastes into the White Nile.
Mr. Biphal affirmed that it was crucial time for the actors to work together to respond swiftly in rescuing the deteriorating situation for both oil pollution and floods havoc.
“The discussion should further accelerate what we can do for our various communities in the areas which are affected by the floods. Our ideas will help them in fighting the floods,” he concluded.
A report from Sudd Institute showed that, most of the water in the oil producing states were not safe for drinking.
Mr. Biphal urged the members of parliament to formulate policies on how to protect the communities in the oil producing areas.
Rose Nyaboth, the Minister of Gender, Child and Social Welfare in Unity State said the debate was timely to help the communities in the current floods’ crisis.
“It is important to discuss all these crosscutting issues; the flood has become a serious disaster for our communities,” she said.
“The women are giving birth and there are no good services. So, we the key actors now need to discuss how we are going to save the lives of our people, without wasting much time,” Nyaboth urged.
According to the Minister, the flood has devastated most of the communities with local suffering.
“I was in Unity State for more than five months and during that time, the flood was very heavy, and we need to do something,” she said.
She called on the parliamentarians to push on how the people can be helped.
The campaign also focused on how to engage the oil companies to put into practice environmental protection measures in the face of the flooding situation to control the problem.
The participants engaged in presentations, group discussions and individual experiencing sharing to safeguard the locals in the oil producing areas.