South Sudan President Kiir Warns of Environment Degradation

President Kiir

By Deng Machol

Juba – South Sudan President Salva Kiir has admitted the East Africa’s youngest nation’s environment is degrading at a rapid rate. 

Speaking at a belated World Environment Day celebration on Thursday in Juba, President Kiir says some human activities in the country are causing one of the most worrying environmental degradation.  
The World Environment Day is celebrated annually on June 5 to create awareness and action to preserve the environment, under the theme is: “Reimagine. Recreate. Restore” and its focal point is ecosystem restoration.

“I can sadly admit that our Environment is degrading at a rapid rate”, said Kiir. “This environmental degradation comes partly from human activities such as charcoal burning, other contributing factors include disregard from the public about the proper waste disposal methods”, he said. 

On the same event, Ms. Josephine Napwon, minister of the environment said armed groups are also to blame for deforestation; decried illegal logging of trees by armed groups.
“All the groups that rebelled against the government use the forest to generate income to support the rebellion,” said Napwon.

Following 2013 war, it is not only human who have been displaced in South Sudan, Kiir says animals are also fleeing the country in large numbers into neighbouring countries because of the environment is no longer safe for them. 

“Even animals that were staying in our forests are now disappearing and this is not good”, said Kiir. “Let us protect our animals, forests, let us protect our environment. This is the only way.”
Plastic bottles harming Nile ecosystem. President Kiir used the occasion to also rebuke disposal of waste such as plastic bottles into the Nile. 

“For those of you who had a chance to sit along the River Nile, you would have seen massive plastic bottles floating in the River. These plastic bottles waste poses a serious harm to River Nile ecosystem especially upstream including the Sudd mud land, he said”.

President Kiir stressed that the Nile is a source of South Sudan’s livelihood and calls upon the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to work closely with the Juba City Council to address the issue of waste disposal into the Nile.  
“Please use all administrative tools at your disposal to address this issue of plastic bottles and other waste in the Nile once and for all”, Kiir ordered. 
Environment Audit

However, Minister Napwon further called upon president Kiir to put an end to the country’s oil companies “blockade” of the country’s pending environment and social audit
The Minister stated that the oil operating companies have often refused to allow her team to review their mode of operation and activities in the country.

“Your Excellency, we should not make money at the expense of the people,” Napwon told Kiir during the belated commemoration of World Environment Day. “These people are not adhering to the environmental aspects, especially in the oilfields.”

Napwon’s appeal comes nearly two months after she threatened to take legal action against oil companies over negligence to protect the oil-producing areas against pollution.
She urged President Kiir to assist her in compelling the oil companies to cooperate with the ministry of environment.

In April, the Minister of Petroleum launched the auditing of the oil firms. But so far, no reports have been made public.
Climate change is considered a long-term change in the average weather patterns.
She had also said the companies would lose their licenses if they did not protect the environment and people there.
There have been reports of oil spillage and deformed child-births, mostly in Ruweng Administrative Area.  The impact of climate change is being witnessed by the extreme heat, drought and insect outbreaks in South Sudan.

Major parts of the country witnessed serious flash floods in 2020 after months of drought.
The country has also witnessed locust invasion last year. This has reportedly resulted in nearly 8.3 million people being food insecure in fragile nation. 

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