From an eye witness account
"Chol O. Giel"
Pattern of rains behind the current flooding
This year, the rains started sporadically in May, picked up in the last week of June and became frequent and heavier in the month of July. The table and chart below depicts the contrast between 2006 rain falls as opposed to 2007 according to Oriny Rain Gauge records.
||2006 rain gauge records in millimetres "mm"
||2007 rain gauge records in millimetres "mm"
It is clear from the table/chart above that the rain falls this year are higher by over 170 mms compared to the same period in 2006.
Nature and extent of the current flooding
All the known ponds and the seasonal rivers in the area such as Agod, Oriny, and Wij Padikwor were dry until the end of May 2007. They started to fill up with rain/floods waters in June. Subsequently, with increasing rain falls, the ponds and the rivers overflowed their banks and all the farming land and the outlying forests were affected as well.
Now, the waters in the ponds as well as in the rivers are at the neck level or above the head of the average height of the local man/woman prompting the people cross them to swim across when travelling/passing through the flood affected areas.
In Oriny, parents living far away from the school in Oriny such as in Yony, Kwom and Nyigir villages have to cross such deep waters with children on their shoulders if they had to attend classes in Agworo "Oriny" where the school is located.
In the bush/forest where the farming fields are normally located, the water is almost at the adult knee level according to the reports of the people getting in or out of Oriny.
For instance, one health worker from Aburoc Primary Health Care Unit "PHCU" who recently "7th August 2007" came to Oriny to collect his salary said that "he had to swim in order to cross Pabo River".
On the 9th August 2007 while flying over the area on my way out of Oriny, one could see miles upon miles of waters interspersed by little islands of villages. From Oriny to the White Nile, 90% of fields are seen standing in water.
Estimate of the area affected by floods
All the inland area lying between Aburoc, 60 kilometres North of and Pabur, 40 kilometres South of Oriny is affected by the current floods.
Therefore, an estimated area of 30 x 100 square kilometres is submersed in floods waters affecting all the inland villages of Wicrek, Nyigir and Detwok payams.
Due to the current flooding, all the cultivable land is covered by water resulting into total suspension of the farming activity in the area.
However, some high land areas along the White Nile and on the main road from Malakal to Kosti are reported to be slightly affected by floods and therefore, have some farming activity going on there.
Though not included as part of this report, information reaching us from some of our health workers in Aweth Primary Health Care Centre "PHCC", which is about 40 kilometres North of Aburoc, show that Kwoj and Athidhwoi payams in Manyo County are affected as well.
Estimate of the affected population by floods
An estimated population of 5,000 people "1,000 households" occupy the area affected by floods. Please, note that this may be an under/over estimate as there are no accurate population records available yet in the area.
According to Oriny SSRRC officer, 47 people returned to Nyigir Payam last year "2006"and further 29 people to Wicrek Payam this year "2007". These are the only people who reported to Oriny SSRRC office on return and therefore, the only ones in records.
So far, no Internally Displaced Persons "IDPs" known to Oriny SSRRC office as a result of the current flooding in the County.
In Oriny, the Primary School has to close down its operation as a result of the floods extending to the school compound and damaging some of its classrooms. Further more, quite a number of homes have either collapsed or on their way to do so in the flooded area.
Origin/source of current floods in the area
Though it is apparent from the analysis of the given table/chart in the text, that the rain fall this year is over 50% higher than last year's; the frequent and heavy rain fall in the high lands of the Nuba Mountains, to the West of Fashoda County, has a major contribution to the current floods in the low lands of the Collo region.
The flooding waters came from the West rather than from the usual East of the area where the White Nile is normally located.
It is only now that the White Nile waters are linking up with and contributing to the rains/floods waters from the west as confirmed by catching of some mud fish in Kwom "Oriny" on the 7th August 2007.
However, the current flooding in the area fits in very well with the predictions provided in KHARTOUM, 10 July 2007 (IRIN) as per quotes given below:
- "The Sudanese government has warned that heavy rains expected in various parts of the country could lead to further flooding and displacement, but said it was doing all it could to contain the situation"
- "The civil defence authority forecast a severe rainy season this year, based on reports from international weather stations"
Steps taken in relation to the floods
Tearfund DMT South Sudan, which has a base in Oriny, and supports Primary Health Care "PHC" Programme in the three Counties of Makal, Fashoda and Manyo, has been monitoring the floods situation in the area and accordingly up dating its head office in Juba on the progress.
The Juba Tearfund office in return has been feeding a consortium of UN and NGO agencies that monitors and reports on the flood situation in South Sudan.
In light of that, about 90,000 aqua tabs for water sterilization has been projected to and requested from PSI to provide safe drinking water to about 1,000 house holds in the floods affected area of Fashoda County. This move is to prevent the anticipated outbreak of diarrhoeal diseases as a result of flooding.
In addition to the above, there are also large quantities of ant malarial drugs projected to, and released by PSF to Tearfund recently in anticipation of the rising level of malarial cases in the area. These drugs are provided through the twelve "12" health facilities supported by Tearfund in the three Counties mentioned earlier.
This is besides distribution of Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets "ITNs" to all children under five attending for immunization, pregnant/lactating women and all people testing positive for malaria in the health facilities as well as in the community.
The floods waters are good breeding grounds for mosquitoes that transmit malaria and whose prevalence is expected to rise in relation to the rising and expanding floods in the region.
Conclusion and recommendations
So far this is how the current floods started, progressed and established itself in Fashoda County within a span of less than three months.
With August and September normally being the months of heavy rain fall in the area, it is anticipated that more areas and population will be affected sooner or later as the floods capture more ground.
Therefore, in order to avoid the grave effect of this eminent disaster, the following recommendations need to be given high importance and priority by the local, county, state and regional governments either individually or collectively.
? Assess the scale of the current floods to establish the exact extent and population affected by it
? Know and encourage adoption of local/traditional coping mechanisms during such disasters where applicable
? Relocate the worst affected population to more higher grounds wherever feasible
? Provide both food and none food items to the population and areas affected
? Mobilize extra/additional external support to supplement the internal one
? Encourage the civil society especially the churches to commit the people to prayer and strengthen their faith and trust in the Father.
God bless you all in the service of his ministry,
Chol O. Giel,
ECS Compound, Juba
Thursday 9th August 2007
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