By Deng Machol
The United Nations humanitarian agency has released 19 million U.S. dollars to help South Sudan’s prepare for the severe flooding expected during the rainy season this year.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said the funds will go to aid agencies to prepare and protect people in the Bentiu camp in Unity State for internally displaced people and surrounding areas, which was among the areas most exposed to the deluge by a flash flood.
In Unity State, expected flooding could put more than 320,000 people – over a third of whom are already displaced – at risk of further displacement, loss of livelihoods, disease outbreaks and food insecurity.
The South Sudan Humanitarian Fund (SSHF) and the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) have released the money before the flooding occurs to avert a humanitarian crisis, according to UNOCHA.
Sara Beysolow Nyanti, the humanitarian coordinator for South Sudan, said that three years of unprecedented flooding have devastated people’s lives.
“As the rainy season has started, this funding will enable humanitarian organizations to soften the blow of another crisis by preparing and protecting communities in Bentiu in advance,” said Nyanti in a statement issued Saturday evening in Juba.
Last year’s biblical flooding affected more than 800,000 people, according to the UN.
UNOCHA says as rains in South Sudan are starting again, large swaths of land in these areas are still under the water from the last rainy season.
With upstream water levels still high, even limited rains could flood farmland, wash away shelters and exacerbate waterborne diseases, according to analysis by the Centre for Humanitarian Data.
It said some 4 million dollars of SSHF funds will enable NGOs and UN agencies to reinforce dikes around vital access roads, displaced people’s homes, the airstrip and other infrastructure.
And the 15 million dollars CERF allocation will support people to protect their homes and key infrastructures, such as latrines and water wells, from floodwater, and thus aim to avert a public health emergency.
South Sudan is projected to suffer the fourth consecutive year of extreme flooding over the coming months.