South Sudan Floods Pose New Threats to Children and Families
Nov. 9, 2020
South Sudan is in the grip of a humanitarian crisis following torrential rains and flooding. In recent days some 572,000 people have already received urgent food assistance - yet other significant needs remain.
Flooding is just the latest crisis to affect South Sudan. People in the country have already been affected by internal armed violence, displacement, economic crisis and the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
Crises like the recent floods frequently prove to be the last straw for vulnerable people - particularly unaccompanied children, orphans, child-headed households and children experiencing illness or disability.
In search of safety
War Child is active in some of the most heavily affected areas of South Sudan - including Bor County in Jonglei State. The White Nile has burst its banks causing over 58,000 people to abandon their homes and seek safety on higher ground. In total some 366,000 people are displaced across the country due to the floods.
Most of the houses, schools, Child Friendly Spaces, markets and other community and government facilities in four settlements along the River Nile in Bor Town and surrounding areas have been completely flooded or destroyed.
Crops, cattle and other sources of livelihood have also been decimated.
For the children and their families in the Bor area already affected by more than a decade of armed conflict, the devastating flood is fuelling additional threats to their health and wellbeing.
Displaced families whose homes have been rendered uninhabitable have found their way into schools, churches and other government and private structures on high ground.
The people affected are primarily women, children and the elderly. Their humanitarian situation is particularly dire – marked by loss of livelihoods, poor health care, inadequate water and sanitation facilities, lack of essential non-food items, poor protection and inadequate mental health and psychosocial support.
Addressing urgent needs
“This flood, the worst in almost 60 years, is hitting children hard,” reports Kevin Ndemera, War Child’s country director in South Sudan. “We are doing our best day and night to support affected communities - working with local authorities and other humanitarian agencies to reach out to children.”
Of the eight Child Friendly Spaces and community centres War Child supports, three are now fully occupied by internally displaced people (IDPs) and five support IDPs and host communities. War Child is currently providing protection and psychosocial support activities and cash assistance in Agrobar, one of the IDP settlements we are active in.
Training front line workers
War Child has been working with government authorities and other partners to train frontline workers and facilitators in child protection and psychosocial support. This includes parenting and psychosocial sessions for caregivers, life skills and recreational activities, case management support to vulnerable children, cash assistance and referral to other services.
War Child is now urgently working round the clock to extend this support to the remaining three IDP settlements - and respond to the most immediate child protection, psychosocial support, cash support and livelihoods needs of the most severely affected children and their families. These efforts will encompass the upcoming six to 18 months and beyond.