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Opinion South Sudan

Opinion: Warning of Another Looming Flooding Disaster and Oil By-Products Waste Pollution in Unity State

The Case of Panyijar, Mayiandit, Koch, Guit and Leer Counties. 

By J. Nguen Nyol,

April 17, 2021(Nyamilepedia) — The purpose of this article is to sound an alarm and warn the general public, the leaderships of this country, and more importantly, the government of Unity State that there is an imminent looming deadly flooding destined to reoccur in Panyijar, Mayiandit and Leer Counties, respectively. 

Oil-spills in parts of South Sudan (Photo credit: unknown)
Oil-spills in parts of South Sudan (Photo credit: unknown)

The article also alerts the government of Unity State, particularly the leaderships of Koch and Guit Counties of a possible unreported overflow and spill over of oil by-product wastes and chemicals to residential areas and farmlands. 

After this brief introduction, allow me to discuss in detail the imminent flooding and possible unreported new pollution which likely occurred in Koch and Guit Counties. 

The Imminent Flooding in Panyijar, Mayiandit and Leer Counties.

First and foremost, I would like to remind my readers that a similar flooding which occurred and is about to reoccur in Panyijar, Mayiandit and Leer, Unity State was also reported in Jonglei and Upper Nile States, respectively. 

However, the article focused only on Unity State simply because the flooding in Unity was under reported and largely ignored by all governments. No single government has reported the flood or paid closer attention in order to save lives and alleviated humans’ suffering. 

In retrospect, it has been 8 months since Panyijar, Mayiandit and Leer Counties experienced deadly flooding. Evidence showed that both counties are still submerged in knee and chest-deep water. 

In terms of human and property costs, the flooding has affected hundreds of thousands of people and destroyed a lot of properties. However, due to the fact that the State and national governments largely ignored the flooding, no one knows how many people and animals have died from the flood or the properties destroyed.

Hence, for the purpose of this article, the rainy season ended last year in November 2020. This gave way to a brand new summer, which is almost ending. Now, a new rainy season is about to begin and yet the flood water from the previous flooding showed no signs of receding. 

For instance, in Panyijar, Mayiandit and Leer Counties, people are still living on high grounds, in shacks and depending largely on humanitarian aides for survival, and this is concerning and troubling. 

It is extremely concerning that people are still living on the high grounds during the dry season. For that matter, I am worried and convinced that there is a high chance of an imminent flooding about to happen considering the swampy nature of Panyijar, Mayiandit and Leer Counties comes May or June 2021. 

Thus, I believe the result of forecasted flooding would be deadly in terms of human and property costs. Therefore this situation calls for necessary mitigation measures to be put in place. 

Comparatively, the Unity State government ought to learn from Jonglei’s strategy. During the Jonglei State flooding, some civil populations from Bor, Twic East and Duk Counties were evacuated and moved to flood free zones in Mangala, Tereka county, Central Equatoria State for their safety. 

This move proved to be productive and helpful in alleviating humans’ suffering in terms of diseases and access to humanitarian aides. 

However, it’s true that some civil populations in the other parts of Jonglei were not evacuated or moved away from flood zones. These areas include Ayod and Fangak Counties. 

The civil populations in these areas were left to fend for themselves without government’s intervention. This lack of government’s intervention happened also in Unity State and should not be allowed to repeat itself comes another flooding. 

To make this matter worse, no single member of the National Legislative Assembly from the flood affected Counties (Panyijar, Mayiandit, Leer, Ayod, Fangak and Leer) bothered to sound an alarm or called on the government to intervene and engage on a rescue mission. 

Undoubtedly, this is a sad development and a clear lack of responsibility and gross negligence on the part of Members of parliament toward their constituencies.

Despite these missteps and gross negligence from the government and members of parliament, the purpose of this article is to once again sound an alarm and warn the general public and the leaderships of this country that there is another imminent looming flooding subject to reoccur in Panyijar, Mayiandit and Leer Counties in the next few months. Considering the swampy nature of these counties, the forecasted flooding could be lethal. 

Taking into account the lethality of the flood, the article called on the commissioners of three counties, Hon. William Gatgiek Mabor of Panyijar, Hon. Dr. Gatlauk Nyang of Mayiandit and Hon. Stephen Taker Riak Dong of Leer to act and show leadership, now. 

The three leaders are warned, alerted and requested to put in place some necessary lifesaving mitigation measures before it is too late. 

The necessary actionable and proactive measures 

Because the previous flood water didn’t recede in Panyijar, Mayiandit and Leer and people are still living on high grounds, in shacks and while people are still commuting with small boats from one high ground to another, there is a very good reason to be worried. 

I am afraid the civil populations in these areas will suffer immensely. In terms of rescue, it will be very difficult, if not impossible to execute any rescue mission. 

For example, the camps on the high grounds will be flooded. Subsequently, the United Nation Agencies who are currently providing lifesaving aides will not be able to deliver aides either by air or boats. 

Considering these facts, I proposed the following necessary actionable and proactive measures to be implemented by the Counties’ leaderships: 

  1. Building or construction of dyes: the leaderships of Panyijar, Mayiandit and Leer are requested to immediately initiate building of dyes in and around the high grounds where people are currently living before heavy rainfall. 
  2. Moving or evacuation of civil populations to flood free zones: the government of Unity State and the counties’ leaderships of Panyijar, Mayiandit and Leer are asked to start moving the civil populations to flood free zones, especially those people who are still living in low lying areas before it is too late. 
  3. Provision of funds: the Humanitarian Agencies are asked to provide funding for these exercises, especially the International Organization for

Migration (IOM) is requested to take the leading role in partnership with the counties’ authorities. 

Unreported Oil By-products waste and chemical pollution in Koch and Guit Counties 

In Guit and Koch counties, evidence showed that residential areas and farmlands are badly polluted. 

Research showed that the ground and surface water are polluted almost beyond repair. With this pollution, people are currently dying silently in great numbers, especially from cancer and children are often born with all forms of deformity due to mercury, lead, arsenic and chromium poisonings. 

With the last year flooding in Unity State, it is very hard to believe and even deny that the shallow dugout pond tails and poorly constructed oil by-products waste storages were not busted in by flood. And as a consequence, the contaminated oil byproducts waste was washed to the farmlands and residential areas. Sadly, nobody or authority has reported such a deadly incidence. 

Knowing the toxic nature of chemical compounds in the pond tails and waste storages, I am afraid the spilled over will have far-reaching negative consequences on the environment, animal and human health and wellbeing. 

Thus the people in Koch and Guit Counties are gravely in danger. In this regard, I called on the concerned authorities to help rescue the situation by urgently forming an investigation team to investigate the matter. 

Also, the major players including the oil companies are asked to take part in this endeavor together with the Counties authorities and State government. 

Considering the likelihood of this spilled over, I would like to submit that the oil companies in this regard bear the full responsibility and must be held to account. In doing so, they must be responsible for cleanup on the ground of polluter pay policy. 

Contrary to this, the affected communities in the polluted areas must demand their rights to life even though it means shutting down the oil wells to ensure their well-being, health and safety. 

In closing, I would like to summarize that there is indeed a looming flooding crisis in Panyijar, Mayiandit and Leer Counties in the next few months. More so, I want to submit that there is a possible unreported pollution in Koch and

Guit Counties’ oil fields, which might have adversely affected farmlands and residential areas. 

Therefore, these twin problems demand quick fixes. A quick solution within which I proposed the mitigation measures to safeguard human health, safety and Environmental protection.

Nguen Nyol is a concerned South Sudan citizen. He can be reached at jamesnguen@gmail.com


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