Restoring hope to flood affected people

By: Ochan Joram David

More than 3,000 flood-affected households from Tonj East Payams in South Sudan were provided with Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) items including dignity kits as part of Islamic Relief’s emergency response to disaster affected people.

The unexpected scale of flood devastation in late 2019 left several payams in Tonj East in a dire humanitarian crisis. Houses were destroyed, existing water sources contaminated, schools and health facilities damaged, crops washed away while thousands of people sought safety in high ground.

The Government of South Sudan declared a state of emergency in the areas affected as the crisis deepened. Islamic Relief through its emergency programming gave out Jerri cans, water buckets, mosquito nets, basins, washing and bathing soaps, water treatment tablets, and a complete set of dignity kits. The distribution to vulnerable mothers in Thick, Makuac, Palal, Paweng, Pagol, Jalwoa(Wunlith), Paliang, and Ngabagok Counties was done with support from the Sweden aid. 

Despite huge humanitarian gaps, the project-flood emergency response (FER) is addressing the fundamental needs of the people including the provision of emergency latrines, hygiene promotion, rehabilitation of damaged and contaminated water sources, distributing non-food items and dignity kits.

Rebecca Nyanajok Jacob is a mother of eleven children. Born in 1979 she became a mother at the age of sixteen and has since then lived in Nabagok with her family. Nyanajok described 2019 as a bad year for the people of Tonj East citing several encounters like constant inter-communal revenge killings, flooding, and cattle raiding.

The only sources of income for Rebecca’s family was a small restaurant where she used to bake bread, cook local food but was looted during a communal raid in Nabagok,  “I didn’t repair my house this year because of lack of access to grass which is located at the other side of warring communities,” she explained.

Nyibul is another beneficiary of a dignity kit. She lives in Wunlith where she practices farming to provide basic needs for her family, ” before I fear public places during a menstrual period, these items I received from Islamic relief will improve my hygiene ” she reveals

The high demand for water In Tonj East counties has exposed women and young girls to high risks in the form of revenge killing. “These items I received from Islamic relief will help my children to fetch water, we walk two hours to access water,” said a mother in Thick County”

Killings, hunger and sustained insecurity are what define the people in Tonj East since 1999 when the first peace conference between the Nuer and Dinka was held in Wunlith village.

In 2004, Islamic Relief first intervention was in Warap and Tonj North Counties through an integrated humanitarian project and development components of peace mobilization. 

As the country recovers from the burden of protracted conflict, South Sudan still suffers the evolving grief of climate change. One million people have been affected by what the United Nation described as severe heavy flooding in late 2019, mostly in remotes provinces across the country.

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