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Humanitarian Affairs Minister briefs President Kiir on devastating floods, calls for support from NGOs

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Humanitarian Affairs Minister briefs President Kiir on devastating floods, calls for support from NGOs

President Salva Kiir Mayardit was briefed in his office by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Hon Peter Mayen Manjongdit about the current humanitarian situation and the impacts of flashfloods following heavy rains which has displaced 1.2 million people and over 4,000 households in low land areas.

In attendance was the Executive Director in the Office of the President Hon James Deng Wal.

Speaking to the media after the meeting, Hon Peter Mayen Manjongdit said H.E President Salva Kiir has expressed commitment to support the victims of the floods in those areas.
The states severely affected by flash floods are Jonglei State, Unity State, Upper Nile State, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Western Equatoria State, Warrap and Lakes State as well as the three administrative areas of Abyei, Greater Pibor and Ruweng.

In addition, Hon. Mayen Manjongdit urged the humanitarian agencies to support with basic needs and provide urgent humanitarian response to the affected people.

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Cattle raid death toll in Kapoeta North rises to 235

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Armed youth walk through Lekuangole, a village in South Sudan’s Pibor region. Photo: AFP
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The death toll of cattle-related violence in Kapoeta North County, Eastern Equatoria State has risen to 235, with Pibor area deputy chief blaming his youth for participating in the attack

Last week, more than 70 people were reportedly killed following a cattle raid which the county authorities said was carried out by a coalition of youth from Budi, Lafon and Greater Pibor areas.

When contacted today, Kapoeta North County Commissioner, Emmanuel Epone Lolimo said a total of 235 have been confirmed dead, a figure Eye Radio cannot independently verify.

“We are not celebrating the death, but we also blame them for coming to raid us. It has been sixteen years since we had conflict.”

“ So, during this incident, the death toll rose up to two hundred and thirty-five which is not good. We are not celebrating this big number. but we blame them for coming to attack us.

Meanwhile, John Abula, Deputy Chief Administrator of Greater Pibor Administrative Area confirmed some youth from his area were involved and similarly blamed them for crossing into Eastern Equatoria State to raid.

“Cattle raiding always involves loss of lives, so we are not worried about that incident because they took their lives to that extent.”

Abula said Eastern Equatoria state governor, Louis Lobong informed him about the incident saying the losses are not a surprise

He asserts that they have organized a conference to change the mindset of the youth in the area to desist from cattle raiding and child abduction.

“So, we learned that there were some casualties and loss of lives also there but it is not new because they were the ones who decided to go there.

VIA EYERADIO

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A Rapid Assessment of the State of SUDD WETLANDS ECOSYSTEM in South Sudan

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SUDD WETLANDS ECOSYSTEM
in South Sudan

BACK OF COVER

A Rapid Assessment of the State of

SUDD WETLANDS ECOSYSTEM
in South Sudan

Citation and Disclaimers

Table of Contents

This publication may be reproduced in whole or in part and in any form for educational or non-profit purposes without special permission from the copyright holder, provided acknowledgement of this source is made. No use of this publication may be made for resale or for any other commercial purpose whatsoever without prior permission in writing from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP),PO Box 30552, Nairobi 00100, Kenya Tel: +254 207621234, www.unep.org

For bibliographic and reference purposes this publication should be referred to as:

UNEP (2022), “A rapid assessment of the state of Sudd wetlands ecosystem in South Sudan” United Nations Environment Programme, P.O. Box 30552, Nairobi 00100, Kenya.

The designations employed and the presentation of materials in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNEP concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

Citation and Disclaimers …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………iv Table of Contents …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….v Foreword …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. vi Acknowledgments …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..vii Production and Editorial Teams …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. vii Acronyms ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… viii Executive Summary…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………ix

Key recommendations ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. ix

1. Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 1

Background and objectives of this report……………………………………………………………………………………………….1 The Sudd: A Ramsar site and wetland of international importance………………………………………………………2 The Sudd wetlands: An overview…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….2

2. Natural Resources of Sudd ……………………………………………………………………………………………..4

Biodiversity……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 4 Protected areas ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..5 Human dimensions of the Sudd ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..7 Characteristics of the Sudd Livelihood Zone ………………………………………………………………………………………….8 Ecosystem goods and services ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….10 Wetlands as a source and sink of GHGs…………………………………………………………………………………………………..13 The Sudd wetlands as a source and sink of GHGs…………………………………………………………………………………..13 The Sudd peatland……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………13 Peatlands …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 14 Oil …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 17

3. Driving Forces………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..18

Insecurity and lack of peace ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………18 Geopolitics and the shared hydrology of the Nile Basin ………………………………………………………………………..18 The hydro-meteorological regime………………………………………………………………………………………………………….20 Evapotranspiration …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 21 Implications for policy…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….23 Climate change and the Sudd ecosystem………………………………………………………………………………………………..24 Agriculture ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 24 Health and Food security…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………26 Water and biodiversity resources …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 26 Loss of ecosystem services due to Land Use Land Cover Changes (LULCC) …………………………………………26

4. Environmental Governance ……………………………………………………………………………………………28

5. Challenges and opportunities for action………………………………………………………………………….29

Agriculture ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 29 Investment in the livestock sector …………………………………………………………………………………………………………29 Ecotourism………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 29 Financing of wetland restoration……………………………………………………………………………………………………………29

Modernization fishing practices……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..30 Further research by international scientific community……………………………………………………………………….32

Climate finance………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..32

6. Key recommendations……………………………………………………………………………………………………33 References…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………35

Foreword

The Sudd wetlands are one of the largest freshwater ecosystems in the world and a designated Ramsar site. They cover an area of 57,000 km2 which varies with the seasons and the extent of the Nile flooding. They are habitat to a wide array of biodiversity and play an important hydro ecological role in South Sudan and the wider River Nile Basin region. As an oasis amid the surrounding dry Sahelian landscape the wetlands attract migrating animals and supporting the winter migration of birds. About one million people depend on the natural resources for their livelihoods and wellbeing. One of the greatest values of the Sudd is that it supports unique and irreplaceable cultures like the Dinka, Nuer, and Shilluk.

The Sudd wetlands are an environmental and economic asset with the potential to support livelihoods, the national economy, and ecosystem services including climate change mitigation and hydrological functions in the bigger Nile Basin area. Non-economic values include its role in supporting the culture, unique wildlife and as a symbol of national identity for South Sudan. The total economic value of the Sudd wetland in 2015 was estimated at about US $3.3 billion. However, if current land use and developmental practices continue this is likely to become a deficit of US $6,419,224 between 2015 and 2035. Human activities are some of the main driving forces behind environmental change and degradation in the Sudd Wetlands. These include insecurity and lack of peace, geopolitics and changes to the hydro-meteorological regime, climate change and human led land use change.

The government has shown great political support towards addressing issues of environmental and natural resources management by signing up to and implementing global policy plans. However, implementation is challenged due to the conflict that coupled with the remoteness of the Sudd wetlands have led to a lack of scientific information. Attempts to rebuild institutions has been slow but is developing and evolving. The Ministry of Environment and Forestry and the Ministry of Wildlife Conservation and Tourism are working in tandem with sectors and development partners to develop policy and regulatory framework and to ensure responsible protected area management within this region. Further challenges arise from the human factors such as poverty, geopolitics of the River Nile basin, and natural factors such as climate change.

This rapid environmental assessment is an attempt to provide information which can then be used to underpin the various management plans and strategies that the government needs to drive the ecological, hydrological, agricultural, and other social developmental needs for this area.

It is hoped that this will support the development of the supervisory, managerial, and regulatory capacity for the entire Sudd wetland system.

I wish you good reading.

GOSS

Acknowledgments

Acronyms

Production and Editorial Teams

UN Environment Programme

Charles Sebukeera Nicholas Mutiso Harrison Simotwo

Environmental Pulse Institute

Ashbindu Singh PhD, Project Coordinator
Peter Gilruth PhD, Senior Advisor
H Gyde Lund, Lead Researcher
Elizabeth Kironde, Researcher and Writer
Eugene Apindi Ochieng, GIS and Data Visualisation

Reviewers

Acronym AF
AW
CH4

CIF CMIP5

CORDEX

CTF ESA ESIA

EWS FAO

FEW NET FoA
GCF
GEF

GHG GIEWS

GoSS GPI GWL IPCC

LULCC MEA MoE MoEF MoP MP n.d. NASA NBI NDC NH3 OCHA

OP PET

Meaning

Adaptation Fund

Alluring World

Methane

Climate Investment Fund

Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5

Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment

Clean Technology Fund European Space Agency

Environmental and Social Impact Assessment

Early Warning System

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Famine early warning systems network Fortune of Africa
Green Climate Fund
Global Environment Facility Greenhouse Gas

Global information and early warning system

Government of South Sudan

Global Peatlands Initiative

Global Warming Level

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Land Use Land Cover Change

Millennium Ecosystems Assessment

Ministry of Environment

Ministry of Environment and Forestry

Ministry of Petroleum

Market-purchased

Not dated

National Aeronautical and Space Agency

Nile Basin Initiative

Nationally Determined Contributions

Ammonia

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Own produced
Potential Evapotranspiration

REDD Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation

SAFER Sustainable Agriculture for Economic Resiliency

SEA Sudd Environment Agency

SPLA Sudan People’s Liberation Army

TEV Total Economic Value

TROPOMI TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument

UN United Nations

UNEP United Nations Environment Programme

UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

UNFCC United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

USAID United States Agency for International Development

USDA United States Department of Agriculture VCM Voluntary Carbon Market
WCMC World Conservation Monitoring Centre

ix

Executive Summary

The Sudd wetlands are a designated Ramsar site. It has an estimated area of 57,000 km2 and is one of the largest freshwater ecosystems in the world. The Sudd is an environmental and economic asset with the potential to support livelihoods, the national economy, and ecosystem services including climate change mitigation and hydrological functions in the bigger Nile Basin area. It also has non-economic values including its role in supporting the culture, unique wildlife and as a symbol of national identity for South Sudan. One of the greatest values of the Sudd is that it supports unique and irreplaceable cultures like the Dinka, Nuer, and Shilluk. Destroying the Sudd would destroy these cultures.

One of the objectives of this rapid environmental assessment is to provide information to underpin the various management plans (ecological, hydrological, agricultural, and developmental) that the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) should implement to ensure that the development of the Sudd wetlands is sustainable. In this context, the following key recommendations are made to the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) and its partner agencies.

Key recommendations

Employ a Resilient Management Strategy combining action, science, and learning from best practice in the Sudd: Given the value of the natural resources and their contribution to ecosystem health and human wellbeing such as the pastoralists, livestock and other benefits accrued from the Sudd wetlands, the government should promote policies that maintain the healthy functioning of the Sudd Wetland by protecting and restoring the goods and services they provide. This might include designating additional protected area status. For instance, the suggested UNESCO World Heritage Site listing. Implementing this would require resilient management strategies that can adapt to shifting geo-politics, changes in water demand and the impacts of climate change.

Carry out Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIA) of infrastructure projects: The requirements under the Ramsar Convention stipulate that the government do everything in its power to maintain the integrity of the Sudd ecosystem. Rigorous environmental and

social impact assessments based on credible scientific information should be conducted before embarking upon infrastructure projects. Such ESIA’s should consider impacts to livelihoods, security issues, population displacement and degradation of ecosystem services, among others.

Examine the policies, practices and impacts of the possible revival of the Jonglei Canal: This should be based on the results of an ESIA based on rigorous scientific data collection and analysis. If pursued, the government should adhere to the core principle of ‘water for South Sudanese people and ecosystems first’ before releasing excess water to downstream countries. There would also be need to mitigate flood intensity by negotiating with the country’s upstream riparian countries. Water management in South Sudan should account for the following issues:

– Water for ecosystem services

– Water for electricity generation

– Water for irrigation

-Management of excess water to reduce flooding.

Deploy an early warning system for flood and drought: According to recent IPCC scenarios, more seasonal flooding and drought are likely to occur in the region in future (Trisos, Adelekan, & Totin, 2022). Early warning systems (EWS) are key elements of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, to avoid or reduce the damages caused from such hazards. To that end, the government should strengthen capacity for drought and flood Early Warning Systems through improved hydro-meteorological monitoring network and timely communication to community level. There is opportunity to leverage ongoing initiatives like the USAID Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), FAO Global information and early warning system (GIEWS), and the OCHA Anticipatory Humanitarian Action framework, among others.

Strengthening of hydro meteorological system should include, among others, Automatic Weather Station, Cup Counter Anemometer, Pyranometer for Shortwave and global Radiation, Rain Gauge, Rainfall Recorder and logger, Standard Weather

Station, Stream gauges, Evaporation Recorder, Wind Vane and Temperature Humidity Recorders. Capacity building for this equipment may also be required.

The GOSS should negotiate and enter bilateral agreements for improvement of water information sharing with upstream countries of the Nile River such as Uganda and setting limits on release of excessive water from Ugandan dams and reservoirs.

Improving flood control measures and recovering local economies: The buildup of biomass in the Sudd/ along the Nile has been clogging the waterways and disbursing the water across all the tributaries and their surrounding area. Flood control measures, like dykes, dredging, removal of biomass for clearing water channels, small canals and irrigation channels, reclamation of land, should be considered to support local fishing and agriculture. Dredging will not only help the streamflow, but also improve water navigation. Areas suitable for

deep water or shallow water dredging should be identified after ESIAs. Agriculture production in rainfed areas could be improved by implementing the proposed Irrigation Master plan of 2015.

Reduce uncertainties by promoting scientific research: The Sudd wetlands have not attracted the attention of the global research community due to the conflict and its remote location. As indicated in sections of this report there are many areas that require attention. These include spatial extent and variability of the Sudd, water availability, evapotranspiration rate, impacts of climate change, impact of Sudd on regional climate, extent of peatlands, carbon sequestration potential, cultural and ecosystem dynamics. The government together with development partners such as UNEP should endeavor to put the Sudd on the global research agenda. Results would be important to national level decisions on the wise use of the Sudd wetlands ecosystem for the future security, sustainability, and stability of South Sudan.

x xi

1. Introduction

Background and objectives of this report

South Sudan, located in Eastern Africa, is bordered by the six countries of Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda. The country has a range of ecosystems including tropical forest, swamps, and grassland. The White Nile (locally known as the Bahr el Jebel) traverses the country, passing by towns including Juba, Bor and Malakal.

The Sudd wetlands, found in the lower reaches of Bahr el Jebel in South Sudan have an area of about 57,000 km2 (Figure 1), slightly over 8 per cent of the country (ESA, 2021). It is one of the largest freshwater ecosystems in the world, habitat to a wide array of biodiversity and plays an important hydroecological role in South Sudan and the wider River Nile Basin region.

The Sudd is a natural resources asset. However, the historical situation of South Sudan severely impacted the development and conservation efforts in the area. There is now the opportunity for South Sudan to address this situation and develop unique environmental policies to foster the sustainable development and utilization of the resources of the Sudd wetlands as part of the country’s bigger environmental governance agenda. If well managed, the upshot could be greater support to livelihoods, the national economy, ecosystem services including climate change mitigation and its hydrological function in the bigger Nile Basin area, and as a symbol of national pride supporting cultures and traditions unique to South Sudan.

Against that background, the objective of this rapid assessment is to analyze and document historical and current environmental challenges and options for the conservation and restoration of the Sudd wetlands. It will also highlight the associated risks of

Figure 1: Location map of South Sudan (MoEF, 2021)

Disclaimer: The boundaries and names shown, and the designations used on this map do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the United Nations. The final boundary between the Republic of South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan has not yet been determined. The final status of Abyei area is not yet determined.

1

mismanagement and the benefits of conservation to people, nature, economies, and thus ultimately support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Sudd wetlands: An overview

The areal extent of the Sudd wetlands is strongly linked to the seasons and this changes from year to year, ranging from a high of 90,000 Km2 in the wet season to a low of 42,000 Km2 in the dry season depending on the high seasonal flood. The wetlands are sustained by the flow of the White Nile from Lake Victoria in Uganda, in addition to rainfall runoff from its surrounding areas. The White Nile flows northwards from Juba across a shallow depression to produce a network of waterways, lagoons and swampy areas, underlain by nutrient rich clayey soils.

The largest areas of the Sudd are found along the Bahr

el Ghazal, where the Bahr el Jebel and Bahr el Zeraf rivers in the Upper Nile and Jonglei come together. The southernmost limit of the permanent wetland in the Sudd is Bor town, which is also the wettest.

Flooding strongly influences the Sudd’s vegetation, which consists primarily of permanent swamps, river and rain flooded grasslands (toiche), and floodplain woodlands. The land cover in the Sudd wetlands area includes open waters, submerged vegetation, floating fringe vegetation, seasonally inundated woodlands, grasslands and scrubland (Figure 2 and Figure 3). The Sudd wetlands are internationally recognized for their unique ecological attributes that include various endangered mammalian species, antelope migrations, large fish and Palearctic migratory bird populations. The Sudd and the Saharan flooded grassland ecosystem support two of the largest ungulate migrations in the world, those of the Tiang and White-eared kob (UNESCO, 2017); (MoEF, 2019).

The Sudd: A Ramsar site and wetland of international importance
The Convention on Wetlands (also known as the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat) is a global inter-governmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. A key commitment by the Parties to the Convention is to identify and place suitable wetlands onto the List of Wetlands of International Importance, also known as the Ramsar List. The Sudd was designated as Ramsar site in 2006. The area of the Sudd Wetland Designated Ramsar contains the permanent swamps that extends from Bor to Lake No (UNESCO, 2017).

Photo credit: John Ater, MoEF, GOSS

Figure 2: South Sudan Land Cover 2020 (ESA, 2021)

Herbaceous wetland Permanent water bodies Bare/Sparce vegetation Built-up Cropland Grassland Shrubland Tree cover

0 10 20 30 40 50

Figure 3: Land cover distribution in South Sudan (ESA, 2021) 23

Proportion (%)

2. Natural Resources of Sudd

Biodiversity

Systematic aerial surveys and reconnaissance of the Sudd wetland region conducted between 2007 and 2013 found that the Sudd wetland has large tracts of largely undisturbed and intact habitats. These habitats support significant viable flora and fauna as discussed below.

Flora

In Sudd usually the deep open water is surrounded by a permanent swamp zone consisting of Cyperus papyrus, Vossia cuspidata and Typha spp. which are important habitats for the endangered Shoebill stork. This in turn is surrounded by seasonally flooded grasslands consisting of Echinochloa stagnina, E. pyramidalis, and Oryza longistaminata as well as Hyparrhenia ruffa at the edge of the wetland (Riak, 2003). Unlike other wetlands, the Sudd wetland has not been shown to be a hotspot of plant species endemism. Out of the 350 plant species identified in the Sudd region, only one species is endemic, Suddia sagitifolia. Suddia, a rare genus belonging to the Poaceae family, is only known to exist in the Sudd Region.

Fauna

The Sudd is internationally recognized for its unique ecological attributes that include some habitat to large mammalian species (some of which are endangered), antelope migrations, large fish populations and migratory Palearctic birds.

Mammals

The African elephant (Loxodonta africana), African buffalo (Syncerus caffer), Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibious), and Sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekii). It hosts the world’s largest concentration of endemic Nile lechwe (Kobus megaceros) – about 11,000 animals. The wetland is an oasis in the midst of dry Sahelian landscape and as such attract migrating animals, especially antelopes such as the Tiang (Damaliscus lunatus tiang), White-eared kob (Kobus kob thomasi) and the Reed buck (Redunca species) as shown in Figure 4 (FoA, 2021).

Birds

The Sudd supports the winter migrations of birds such as the Black Crowned Crane (Balearica pavonina), White Stork (Ciconia ciconia), Great White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus), and the Black Tern (Chlidonias niger). It is part of the East Asian-East African flyway of Palearctic birds, that breed in Asia and Central-Europe

The Sudd wetlands of southern Sudan supports their annual migration of the White-eared kob (Kobus kob leucotis) Photo credit: Origins Safaris, 2021

but fly south to escape the winters. It is also a dry season refuge for birds that migrate within the African continent (UNESCO, 2017). About 7,000 Shoebill stork (Balaeniceps rex) occur in the Sudd wetlands, which is a large proportion of the global population (UNESCO, 2017).

Fish

The range of aquatic habitats – open water, riverine, lacustrine and palustrine wetlands offer ideal habitat for breeding, feeding and growth for huge numbers of fish. Human interference has been minimal to date, leaving these habitats largely intact. Some fish species found include 31 Siluroids, 16 Characoids, 14 Cyprinoids, 11 Momyrids, 8 Cichlids, and 7

Cyprinodonotids and 8 endemic Nile dwarf fish (UNESCO, 2017).

Other

Not much is known about the diversity of amphibians and reptiles, however it is thought that the size and remoteness of the Sudd has contributed to it having the largest crocodile population in the world (Riak, 2003).

Protected areas

South Sudan has 27 protected areas covering 15.5 per cent of the land area as shown in Figure 5 (UNEP-WCMC, 2022). The key indicators of the protected areas in the Sudd wetland area are summarized in Table 1.

The Sudd region

ETHIOPIA

Gambella National Park

Boma National Park

C.A.R

D.R.C

KENYA UGANDA

SUDAN

SOUTH SUDAN

ETHIOPIA

White Nile River

Shambe National Park

Rumbek Yirol

°

Shambe Port Jonglei

SOUTH SUDAN

Bandigilo National Park

Tiang

Tiang Migration

Bor

Kob Migration

Figure 4: Migration routes of the White-eared Kob (Kobus kob leucotis) and Tiang (Damaliscus lunatus tiang) (NBI, 2020)

45

Human dimensions of the Sudd

The People

The Sudd region is home to about 1 million people who depend on the natural resources for their livelihoods and wellbeing. The main tribes include the Anyuak (Akobo State), Dinka (Eastern Lakes State), Nuer (Southern Liech State), and the Shilluk (Upper Nile State) (Figure 6). These are all indigenous Nilotes and well adapted to the seasonally flooded conditions in the Sudd. Livelihoods include fishing, nomadic agro-pastoralism, and collection of non-timber

forest products. The people live or graze animals on floating islands of vegetation and utilize traditional hunting and fishing techniques. The cultures and traditions are well suited to the local environment. For instance, the Shilluk tribe believe that killing the Nile lechwe is taboo making them a key factor in the conservation of that animal. These cultural and religious beliefs are an important contributor to sustainable environment management. It is important to understand and preserve these knowledge and practices as they are integral to the survival and livelihoods and the sustainable use of natural resources in the Sudd (UNESCO, 2017).

Figure 5: South Sudan protected areas (Darbyshire, 2021).

Table 1: Protected areas in the Sudd wetlands area (MoEF, 2019)

NameYear createdArea (km2)Habitat
Mongalla game reserve (now part of Bandingilo NP)1939For the protection of migratory antelopes75Woodland savanna, grassland and flood plains
Shambe national park1985For the preservation and protection of endangered northern race of the white rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni),620Woodland & wooded savanna, grassland, and flood plains
Zeraf (which also incorporates Fanyikang game reserve)1939Traditional hunting reserve for the Nile lechwe8,000Wetlands, Toich grassland, wooded savanna and floodplains

67

Figure 6: The territory boundaries of the three main indigenous pastoral groups inhabiting the protected areas of the Sudd wetlands including the Dinka (brown), Nuer (green), and Shilluk (orange) (Ruuskanen, 2021)

Characteristics of the Sudd Livelihood Zone

Livelihood zoning is an activity that brings together environmental and human factors in a way designed to establish how households access income and food and provide forecasting of factors that may lead to food insecurity. By so doing, it provides those in decision making positions with a system of predicting the early signs of famine (FEWS NET, 2018).

The Sudd livelihood zone is a narrow swampy band of flood plain on either side of the River Nile running from north to south, almost reaching the southern border (Figure 7). Grasses such as papyrus and bush scrub are common. The soil along the riverbanks is clayey turning to sandy loam as one moves away from the river. Rainfall ranges between 700 and 1,300 mm per year falling in one season from May to October (FEWS NET, 2018). The mix of livelihood strategies employed in this zone include cropping, livestock farming, fishing, harvesting of wild products and other river-related activities.

Many households practice some form of rain-fed agriculture with sorghum being the staple crop. Cowpeas, groundnuts, maize, pumpkin, okra and other vegetables are also grown. Although some households use machines or simple ploughs to cultivate the land, most of it is tilled by hand.

The livestock sector is a major contributor to the economy of South Sudan, valued at US $3 billion and contributing roughly 25 per cent of GDP. Livestock rearing is an important tradition in the pastoral communities serving a key role in their social, cultural, and economic systems. Common farm animals include cows, goats, and sheep. During the dry season, the pastoral communities from the surrounding Sudano-Sahel eco-regions migrate with their cows towards the Sudd in search of pasture and water (Ruuskanen, 2021).

There is a variety of natural resources including papyrus grasses (for making mats), water lilies, gum Arabic, wood for fuel wood and construction, fish, crustaceans, and birds. Reserves of crude oil are present in the zone. Fishing is an important livelihood

option, especially for poorer households. It is primarily artisanal employing the use of canoes, spears, and nets. Other products that contribute to household food security include Lalop (Desert dates), roots, tubers, vines, leafy greens, honey, and game such as antelope and dik-dik. Many of these can be processed for sale or

later consumption. These are highlighted in Table 2.

The market system is not very active as the swampiness and remoteness of the area combined with unreliable transport combine to make road access to areas beyond the river complicated. Canoes and motorboats are the most used means of transport.

Table 2: Characteristics of the Nile Basin Fishing and Agro-pastoral Livelihood Zone (SS08). (MP= Market-purchased food; OP = Own produced crops, IK = In Kind (payment), G = Gathering, usually for wild foods or products) (FEWS NET, 2018)

Main productive assets
PoorBetter-off
0.5 ha cultivated fishing equipment cattle, goats, sheep>1 ha cultivated Fishing equipment cattle, goats, sheep
Main foods and sources
PoorBetter-off
Sorghum (OP/MP) Maize (OP) Groundnuts (OP) Cowpeas (OP) Fish (G)
Water lilies (G) Other wild foods (G) Vegetables (OP) Milk, meat (Kin, IK, OP)
Sorghum (OP/MP) Maize (OP) Groundnuts (OP) Cowpeas (OP)
Milk, meat (OP)
Fish (G/MP)
Water lilies (MP) Other wild foods (MP) Vegetables (OP)
Main income sources
PoorBetter-off
Sale of fish, river products, wild foods, and bush products Sale of vegetables Labor sales
Sale of beer
Sale of goats
Sale of milk and milk products
Sale of fish
Sale of sorghum, maize, vegetables Sale of cattle, goats, sheep
Retail trade
Main markets
Malakal (outside the zone) – main fish market Gut Thom – livestock, cereal, fresh and dry fish Panyijiar, Awerial, Ayod – livestock
River ports (critical for trade)
Main hazards
Flooding every 3-5 years (and annual rise of river levels)
Crop pests (arthropods, arachnids, crustaceans, and fungi treated by application of ash)
Livestock diseases (CBP, PPR, Trypanosomiases, East Coast Fever, CCP, Foot and Mouth disease and internal worms and parasites)
Cattle raiding (localized)
Coping strategies
PoorBetter-off
Increase fishing
Increase labor sales & migration Increase wild food consumption Sale of small livestock
Kinship support
Increase sale of livestock
Increase formal employment
Reduce number of employees or casual laborers

Figure 7: South Sudan livelihood zones, 2018 (FEWS NET, 2018). Most of the Sudd falls within zone SS08 (area in blue). 89

Ecosystem goods and services

An ecosystem is defined as a functional unit made up of non-living and living things such as micro-organisms, plants, and animal including humans. There is a wide variety of ecosystems including aquatic, forests, grasslands, and agricultural ecosystems. Ecosystem services are the benefits provided to humans through the transformation of the environmental assets found in an ecosystem into goods and services. Some of the environmental assets may include the atmosphere, land, water, and vegetation while the goods and services include provision of water and clean air (Figure 8) (MEA, 2005).

If managed well, the Sudd is potentially a rich economic asset to South Sudan as it could provide income, jobs, and irreplaceable ecosystem services

indeterminately. The economic value of the Sudd, which represents only a fraction of the total value of the Sudd’s non-economic values, includes its potential as a symbol of national identity, its role in climate change mitigation, regulation of the flow of the White Nile, and supporting South Sudan’s unique wildlife and culture (Gowdy & Lang, 2016).

The total economic value (TEV) of the Sudd wetland in 2015 was estimated at about US $3.3 billion (Figure 9). Annual provisioning services for the community are estimated at more than US $253 million while it also contributes about US $148,000 worth of water transportation services. The wetland also provides regulating and biodiversity services worth about US $1.8 billion and 1.2 billion, respectively in the form of microclimate regulation, flood control, and water regulation. Table 3 highlights this in more detail (NBI, 2020).

PROVISIONING SERVICES

Goods produced or provided by ecosystems

REGULATING SERVICES

Benefits from regulation of ecosystem processes

Food
Fuelwood
Fiber
Timber
Water partitioning
Pest regulation
Climate regulation
Pollination

CULTURAL SERVICES

Nonmaterial benefits from ecosystems

SUPPORT SERVICES

Factors necessary for producing ecosystem services

Spiritual
Recreational
Aesthetics
Educational
Hydrological cycle
Soil formation
Nutrient cycling
Primary production

Figure 8: Classification of ecosystem services (MEA, 2005)

Figure 9: The real value of the Nile Basin Wetlands (Rutagwera, 2021)

10

11

Table 3: Total economic valuation of different ecosystem services of the Sudd wetland (NBI, 2020)

Wetlands as a source and sink of GHGs

Wetlands have an extraordinary capacity to sequester and store carbon from the atmosphere, but this role is generally under-estimated. Wetlands cover almost a tenth of the Earth’s surface and hold over a third of global terrestrial carbon (COA, 2012). One reason why they accumulate carbon so successfully is that they are water-logged, dark, and very productive, which creates conditions for highly stable carbon content. Carbon is stored in vegetation above ground and underground, in sediment beneath live plants, and in dead plants, such as leaf litter.

Wetlands are also a prominent source of GHGs and under certain circumstances the same wetlands could either be net sink or net source of GHGs. The reason behind this dual nature is not well understood (COA, 2012). Clearing or drainage of wetlands can lead to large losses of stored organic carbon to atmospheric carbon dioxide. Also, under anaerobic conditions, wetlands can produce greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide, though this is reduced in salt water.

The Sudd wetlands as a source and sink of GHGs

Figure 10 highlights the high soil organic content in the Sudd wetlands. It is thought that rewetting wetlands (as happens during the flooding periods) leads to carbon sequestration while drainage of wetlands releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This is yet to be confirmed through research and if proven, presents a potentially big opportunity for climate change mitigation (Darbyshire, 2021).

The Sudd peatland

Peatlands in the Sudd wetlands are estimated to cover an area of 15,780 km2 or about 50 percent of the total peatland area and 37 per cent of the total carbon stock of the entire Nile basin, making it the most important concentration of peatlands in the Nile basin area (Figure 11 and Figure 12) (NBI, 2019).

Peatlands are areas for high carbon sequestration and storage and thus are crucial for climate change mitigation. In addition, they provide critical ecosystem goods and services, such as tourism, fishing, water

Ecosystem servicesIndicatorSize (ha) or populationUnit value $ (ha) or per capita valueTotal Value
CropValue of crop produced per year131,11229935,793,576
FishValue of fish harvested per year89,35277.86,347,100
PapyrusValue of papyrus harvested from the wetland480,96519.58,563,269
Papyrus craftsValue of mats and crafts made of papyrus480,96547.9521,056,857
Domestic water supplyValue of water supplied to households160,00035.35,156,870
Livestock wateringValue of water consumed by livestock1,786,336247,625,271
Livestock grazingValue of livestock grazing1,786,3360.2119,063,178
FuelwoodValue of fuelwood collected from the wetland264,1684.581,104,681
Natural medicineValue of natural medicine from the wetland2,985,7500.912,480,769
CharcoalValue of charcoal from the wetland5,0000.33,560,870
VegetationValue of vegetation (reeds, bamboo)1,141,2630.56583,532
MulchValue of grass for mulching from the wetland16,9201402,162,817
Total provisioning service253,498,790
TransportValue of transportation using the open water of the wetland89,3521.82162,621
Total cultural services148,480
Microclimate regulationValue of microclimate regulation service of the wetland3,075,102265744,040,984
Flood controlValue of flood controlling service of the wetland3,075,102723.89971,519,357
Water regulationValue of water regulation service of the wetland3,075,1023084,231,055
Total regulating services1,799,791,396
BiodiversityValue of biodiversity (habitat/ refugia) service of the wetland3,075,1024391,349,969,778
Total biodiversity service1,232,581,102
Total (Provisioning + Cultural + Regulation + Biodiversity),3,286,019,767

12 13

Figure 10: The Sudd is both a carbon source and sink – the balance is not yet understood, and this remains a major knowledge gap. Soil carbon data from International Soil Reference and Information Centre (ISRIC) Africa Soil Grids. (Copernicus Sentinel data 2021) (Darbyshire, 2021).

Biodiversity Regulating Cultural Provisioning

Peatlands
Peat is made from partially decayed plant material that collects under water-logged conditions over a long time. Areas covered by peat are called peatlands. Other names for peatlands include mires, bogs, fens, peat swamp or swamp forests. Peat is found all over the world in the around the world – in the permafrost regions, at high altitudes, in coastal areas, beneath tropical rainforest and in boreal forests. Peatlands store large amounts of carbon and though they cover less than three per cent of global land surface, estimates suggest that peatlands contain twice as much as in the world’s forests (GPI, 2016).

supply, habitat for biodiversity, flood control and drought buffering among others. These make peatland restoration and conservation critical in the bigger picture of integrated water resources management and climate change in the Nile Basin (NBI, 2019). Since not much is known about the Sudd peatlands, there are prospects for soil organic carbon research for possible carbon offsetting and trading as opportunity for climate change mitigation and adaptation (NBI, 2021).

There are also prospects for the government of South Sudan to join regional and thematic partnerships like Global Peatlands Initiative (GPI, 2016) where states work together to improve the conservation, restoration, and sustainable management of peatlands. Currently, the Global Peatlands Initiative is active in Indonesia, Peru, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Republic of Congo.

Methane emissions

The question of how methane (CH4) emissions from tropical ecosystems such as wetlands and their response to climate change is one of the biggest ambiguities related with the global CH4 budget. This has primarily been due to a historical lack of in situ data a situation which is particularly challenging in Africa.

A recent study attributed a large part of the increase in African emissions between 2010 and 2016 to the increasing wetland extent of the Sudd, driven largely by increased water levels in the upstream East African lakes. Emissions from the Sudd wetlands were found to have increased during the study period by 3 Tg yr−1 (Lunt, et al., 2019). Another research paper assessed methane emissions from the wetlands of South Sudan using 2 years (December 2017–November 2019) data from the TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) a satellite-based system that provides observations of atmospheric methane (CH4). An annual wetland emission of 7.4 ± 3.2 Tg yr−1, was estimated which agrees with the Lunt et al. (2019) study (Pandey, et al., 2021).

Atmospheric ammonia

Ammonia is an air pollutant which, in increased concentrations, can lead to heart and lung-related illness, make soil more acidic, eutrophication and hinder plant growth. It is emitted naturally from soils and vegetation fires. However agricultural activities such as livestock rearing, and fertilizer use are major contributors. Expanding agriculture and increasing populations are combining to push ammonia emissions up.

In swampy areas, the concentrations of ammonia are linked to the variations in the extent of flooded wetland. As the wetland soils dry out, ammonia emissions into the environment increase and vice versa. In wetter years, ammonia concentrations were lower (Figure 13) (Hickman, et al., 2021). A study of changing atmospheric ammonia concentrations in Africa from 2008 to 2018 showed that the Sudd was the only region in Africa that showed a clear decrease in ammonia over the study period. The message for policy is the need for wetland ecosystem health as this contributes to decreases in emissions of atmospheric ammonia (Hickman, et al., 2021).

693 1,288

1,110 475

571

6,878

South Sudan Tanzania Uganda Burundi

15,870 DR Congo Ethiopia

Kenya Rwanda

2,629

Figure 11: Proportional distribution of peatlands in the Nile Basin in km2 (NBI, 2021)

South Sudan

South Sudan

Figure 12: Peatland areas in the Nile Basin (NBI, 2020)

14

15

Figure 13: Changes in ammonia concentration in three regions of Africa from 2008 to 2018.

The map on the left depicts the change in ammonia concentration in three regions of Africa from 2008 to 2018. The map on the right shows changes in burned area between 2008 and 2018. While biomass burning is one source of ammonia concentration increase, agricultural activities such as raising livestock and using fertilizer are also major sources. In West Africa and Lake Victoria, concentration increased over time. In South Sudan, it decreased (Credits: NASA’s Earth Observatory / Joshua Stevens)

Oil

Oil reserves in South Sudan are estimated at over 3.5 billion barrels of crude oil reserves. This is Sub-Sahara Africa’s third largest reserves after Nigeria and Angola, respectively. The energy industry of South Sudan is of interest as has the potential to become a vehicle for economic and social development (MoP, 2020). However, oil exploration and production which has been going on for some time is also a threat to the Sudd.

The oil-producing block 5A (Figure 14) spans a section of the Sudd and production in the southern

portion restarted in June 2021 after oil production had halted for almost eight years after the civil war. The Bentiu oil refinery resumed production in August 2021 after incurring damage during the conflict in 2014. Further, the improved relations between the Republic of Sudan and South Sudan is likely to ensure the continued flow of oil. Even as developments proceed in the oil sector, decision makers must pay attention to the attendant degradation of the Sudd wetlands through oil contamination as this has severe consequences for the health of both the people and the wetlands.

3. Driving Forces

Human activities are some of the main driving forces behind environmental change and degradation in the Sudd Wetlands. These include insecurity and lack of peace, geopolitics and changes to the hydro-meteorological regime, climate change and human led land use change.

Insecurity and lack of peace

South Sudan has endured decades of conflict and instability which are well known to affect the environment directly and indirectly for instance through the disruption of productivity and responsible natural resources management practices. Apart from the attendant environmental degradation, conflict also destroys the institutions that are critical for human and environmental wellbeing. After independence in 2011, the Government of South Sudan attempted to rebuild the institutions. Although there has been some progress, the challenges are still there. The capacity of the government to formulate policy and implement programmes is still limited but is developing and evolving and should be further strengthened (UNEP, 2018).

Geopolitics and the shared hydrology of the Nile Basin

About 20 per cent of the Nile Basin lies within South Sudan, 7 per cent of which is covered by the Sudd wetland, making it regionally significant and an important part of the Nile basin water network (Figure 15) (NBI, 2020). They are replenished by rainfall in the upstream areas. They act as a sponge regulating and purifying the Nile waters, are a source of food and water for wildlife, people, and their livestock and, play a role in climate change mitigation. The Nile waters

are vital to the downstream areas of the Nile basin where water demand is on the increase.

About 50 per cent of the inflow to the Sudd swamps is lost to evaporation. To address this, plans were approved in 1974 to build the 360 km long Jonglei Canal to redirect the Nile water from Bahr el Jebel at Bor directly to the junction of the White Nile with the Sobat River. The premise was that the current evaporation rate of the wetland would significantly reduce releasing an additional 5 per cent water for the downstream countries at Aswan. The upshot was it would probably lead to a 30 per cent reduction of the Sudd wetlands with negative impacts on the ecosystem and local livelihoods. For instance, it was thought it would reduce drinking water, fisheries, pasture, and access to either side of the canal by wildlife, pastoral communities, and their livestock (Mohamed , Hurk, Savenije, & Bastiaanssen, 2005). The civil war in 1983 led to the halting of construction work and by this time 240 km out of canal had been built as shown in Figure 16 (Mohamed , Hurk, Savenije, & Bastiaanssen, 2005).

Discussions around the re-opening of the Jonglei Canal remain sensitive for South Sudan. Despite the importance of the wetlands to the local and regional environment, its hydrology and interaction with the climate are still not well understood (Mohamed Y. A., 2006). It is important that any plan to develop the Sudd wetlands should be based on a credible science and socio-economic information base. Although, since 2011, there have been sectoral plans that aim to address waterway expansion, oil production and national park planning, there is currently no integrated development plan for the Sudd (NBI, n.d.). It is recommended that ecosystem services be fully incorporated into any development plans and strategies for this area.

Figure 14: Map and status of oil blocks in South Sudan (Darbyshire, 2021) 16

17

PRECIPITATION

in BCM (billion cubic meters)

ACTUAL EVAPOTRANSPIRATION SURFACE RUNOFF GROUNDWATER INFILTRATION

IRRIGATION WATER USE

in BCM

EQUATORIAL REGIONS EASTERN SUB BASINS 1,039 889

MAIN NILE / WHITE NILE 146

The hydro-meteorological regime

Rainfall and temperature

There are distinct wet and dry seasons in the Sudd region, with rainfall commonly occurring from April to October and cresting around August as shown in Figure 17. Annual rainfall varies across the country from 200 mm in the southeast, to between 700-1,300 mm in the northern states, to 1,200-2,200 mm in the forests of Western Equatoria and the Equatorian highlands (MoEF, 2021).

The data shows that since the mid 1970’s there has been a 10–20 per cent decrease in the long rains. As a result, the area of regions receiving rainfall sufficient to support the livelihoods of agropastoralists (>500 mm) reduced by 18 per cent. Future rainfall projections for the years 2010–2039 show reductions of over 150 mm between June and September in some parts of the country (see Figure 18) (MoEF, 2021).

There has been a 0.4°C per decade increase in temperature over the last 30 years in South Sudan putting the country amongst the most rapidly warming nations globally (Figure 19) (MoEF, 2021). General circulation model projections indicate that temperatures may increase by 0.6-1.7°C by 2030 and by 1.1-3.1°C by 2060 relative to the baseline period of 1961–1990. It is predicted that there will be a simultaneous decrease in precipitation and combined with the increases in temperature will amplify the impact of droughts. A warming of more than 1°C would result in about 10-20 per cent reduction in precipitation through increased evaporation, which would further reduce the availability of water (MoEF, 2021).

The South Sudan Meteorological Service has a huge job to do providing weather and climate information in support of science, the economy and livelihood (farming and pastoralism) activities. Inadequate funding, outdated equipment and untrained staff are some of the current challenges. There is need for greater investment in weather stations and hydro-meteorological measuring equipment to accurately capture status and trends of changes in climate.

986

776

142

4 0.2

EGYPT

MAIN NILE / WHITE NILE

SUDAN

SOUTH SUDAN

EQUATORIAL REGIONS

UGANDA RWANDA

53 0.4

95 18

ERITREA

EASTERN SUB BASINS

ETHIOPIA KENYA

1 13 57

UP STREAM

SUDD BASIN AQUIFER

MID STREAM

DOWN STREAM

(1)

0 KM

(2)

DR CONGO

6990 KM

BURUNDI TANZANIA

(5) EVAPOTRANSPIRATION

Evapotranspiration is one of the major components of the water balance over the Nile Basin, accounting for about
87 per cent of the Basin’s rainfall. It however varies from one sub-basin to another based

on land use/cover and the prevailing climatic conditions.

(3)

(5)

(4)

UNDERSTANDING THE NILE:
WHERE IS THE RIVER COMING FROM, WHERE DOES IT GO

(1) WATER TOWERS

Specific regions in the Nile
Basin generate most of the
Nile water flow. These high- altitude areas experience heavy rainfall and lower temperatures. The main water towers within the Nile Basin are the Ethiopian Highlands, Mt. Elgon, Mt. Rwenzori and the Albertine Rift.

(2) LAKES

The Nile Basin has numerous lakes which play an essential role in regulating the flow of Nile water. Major lakes like Lake Victoria, Lake Albert, Lake Tana and Lake Kyoga significantly influence the outflow due to storage and regulation.

(3) SUDD WETLAND

The Sudd is one of the most extensive wetlands in Africa. It plays a significant role in minimising seasonal flow variations of the White Nile – it reduces flows due to high evapotranspiration, limits floods during the wet season and supports flow during the dry season.

(4) GROUNDWATER

Figure 15: Hydrology of the Nile (Rutagwera, 2019)

NUBIAN SANDSTONE AQUIFER SYSTEM (NSAS)

The Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System (NSAS) is the largest transboundary groundwater resource in the Nile Basin region. Aquifers across the basin are highly heterogeneous, ranging from shallow local ones (actively replenished by rainfall), to deep regional systems

32 30

28 26 24

150 100 50 0

Temperatire (°C, left axis) Rainfall (mm, right axis)

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Figure 16: Paths of the excavated and possible final section of the Jonglei canal (Darbyshire, 2021). 18

Figure 17: Average monthly temperature and rainfall in South Sudan, 1901-2016 (MoEF, 2021) 19

Degrees Celcius

Milimeters

0 M 40000 M

SUDD WETLAND

KHARTOUM

MEROWE DAM

ASWAN DAM

CAIRO
NILE DELTA

MEDITERRANEAN SEA

LAKE VICTORIA

LAKE TANA

Figure 18: Projected change in precipitation 1960-2039 (MoEF, 2021)

Evapotranspiration

About 50 per cent of the waters of the White Nile evaporates as it passes through the Sudd amounting to approximately 16,000,106 m3 per annum (Mohamed & Savenije, 2014). The boundaries of the Sudd are variable and depend on the regional climate (outflow from Lake Victoria) and the local climate (characterized by precipitation and evapotranspiration over the wetland itself). Evapotranspiration is the combination of water loss through evaporation from open water, soil, and plant transpiration.

It is hypothesized that increasing rainfall and increased temperatures should lead to increased evapotranspiration. Data over the last century (1900-2000) show that water flow into and out of the Sudd increased probably linked to increasing precipitation over Lake Victoria in 1960 and 1961, although precipitation over the Sudd itself remained

Figure 19: Projected change in temperature 1960-2039 (UNEP, 2018)

20

21

constant. Daily maximum temperatures increased by 0.6°C, while daily minimum temperatures increased by 1.5°C. Despite these increases, actual evapotranspiration over the wetland itself has not changed. It is thought that relative humidity and solar radiation (which both reduced by 10 per cent between 1950-2000) combined to compensate for the increased inflows and temperatures (Mohamed & Savenije, 2014). Figure 20 highlights some of the historical data on the Nile flows due to rain, evaporation, inflows, and outflows.

Understanding and measuring evapotranspiration is a critical component in water resources management. However, there are variations in the values for evapotranspiration depending on the models used as highlighted in Figure 21. This problem is compounded by data gaps and the need for capacity building in data analysis.

Figure 20: Historical observations within the Sudd measuring rainfall, evaporation, inflows, and outflows (Di Vittorio & Georgakakos, 2018)

250
200
150
100

50

0
Jan Feb Mar

Apr May Jun

Jul Aug

Sep Oct

Nov Dec

CRU Hargreaves

MEP GLEAM Climatology

Figure 21: Monthly mean gridded potential evapotranspiration estimates averaged over the Sudd flooded area extents, from 2000 to 2018, compared to the historical climatology estimates. This figure highlights the substantial differences between ET estimates from different models (Di Vittorio & Georgakaos, 2021)

Figure 23: Lake Jebel Aulia height increasing as measured by satellite data (USDA, 2022).

Implications for policy

There is need for information to guide strategy for socio-economic development, ecosystem protection and water conservation projects in the region. Currently data underlying the hydrodynamics of the Sudd is weak and raises more questions than it answers. Recent satellite-derived hydrologic data suggests that the existing Sudd model over-predicts the extent of the flood area and does not accurately capture the storage-attenuation characteristics of the wetland. Further, the remotely sensed information has been found to be somewhat inconsistent in terms

of the Sudd water balance. (Di Vittorio & Georgakaos, 2021). Other data (Figure 22 and Figure 23) based on recent satellite measurements clearly show increasing lake height in Lake Victoria and Sudd (USDA, 2022).

Collecting groundwater hydrologic data in the Sudd using traditional methodologies is equally complicated due to the wetland’s high spatial and temporal variability and conflict situation on the ground, among others. However, satellite data indicates that the Sudd Wetland is a water-limited system. It has very shallow ground water storage and depends on surface water inputs (McGuinnes & Becker, 2019).

Climate change and the Sudd ecosystem

Climate change is identified as a major threat to wetlands. Changes to the hydrology and rising temperature can change the biogeochemistry and function of a wetland to such an extent that important ecological services harm the environment instead. For instance, when wetland vegetation starts to decompose, water purification services may be compromised and instead nutrients released into the water. When the rate of decomposition is higher than primary production (photosynthesis) it may lead to a shift in the wetland function – from being a carbon sink to a carbon source (Salimi, Almuktar, & Scholz, 2021).

According to the latest IPCC 2022 report and quoted verbatim below, the following key trends are projected for the East African region:

During the short rainy season, a longer rainfall season and increased rainfall of up to over 100 mm on average is projected over the eastern horn of Africa and regions of high/complex topography at Global Warming Level (GWL) 4.5°C.

During the long rainy season, there is low confidence in projected mean rainfall change. Although some studies report projected increased end of century rainfall, the mechanisms responsible for this are not well-understood and a recent regional model study has detected no significant change.

Projected wetting is opposite to the observed 57 drying trends, giving rise to the ‘East African rainfall paradox’.

In other parts of East Africa, no significant trend is evident, agreement on the sign of change is low, and in some regions, CMIP5 and CORDEX data show opposite signs of change.

Heavy rainfall events are projected to increase over the region at global warming of 2°C and higher. Drought frequency, duration and intensity are projected to increase in Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, and Tanzania but decrease or not change over Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopian highlands”.

Agriculture, health and food security are some of the sectors sensitive to climate change impacts. These and some of the resulting vulnerabilities are discussed in the sections that follow.

Agriculture

It is expected that impacts of climate change on the Lake Victoria and River Nile flow rates, will ultimately impact the extent and seasonal fluctuation of the Sudd wetland severely affecting the pastoralist communities who depend mainly on agriculture and livestock as their source of livelihoods. Reduced rainfall will result in reduction in the availability of pasture and water for livestock and irrigation. Too much rain may result in floods, submerged fields (Figure 24), loss of harvests, livestock deaths limiting food stocks and collapsing traditional livelihoods. Already, 2021 is the third year of flooding in this region and has led to the displacement of over 800,000 people (WFP, 2021).

Health and Food security

Figure 22: Lake Victoria height increasing as measured by satellite data (USDA, 2022) 22

23

PET (mm)

Raja

Aweil Centre

Tonj North Warrap

Leer

Nyirol

Uror Jonglei

26°E 27°E 28°E 29°E

30°E

31°E

32°E

Re3n3k°E

Manyo
Renk

Melut

Melut Upper Nile

Baliet

Yakuach

34°E

35°E

FLOOD

FL20220119SSD

Satellite detected water extents between 23 and 27 February 2022 over South Sudan

This map illustrates cumulative satellite-detected water using VIIRS in South Sudan between 23 to 27 Feb. 2022 compared with the period from 11 to 15 Feb. 2022. Within the cloud free analyzed areas of about 629,000 km2, a total of about 21,200 km2 of lands appear to be affected with flood waters. Water extent appears to have decreased about 8,000 km2 since the period between 11 to 15 Feb. 2022. Based on Worldpop population data and the maximal flood water coverage, ~522,000 people are potentially exposed or living close to flooded areas.

This is a preliminary analysis and has not yet been validated in the field. Please send ground feedback to the United Nations Satellite Centre (UNOSAT).

Legend

Capital city

City
International boundary Undetermined boundary Province boundary County boundary Primary road
Abyei Region
Reference water Minimum floodwater extent

Maximum floodwater extent
Kapoeta East

Map Scale for A3: 1:2,750,000

The changes in the rainfall regime are having direct and indirect impacts to human health, particularly as communities living in the Sudd already have limited access to clean drinking water, sanitation, and health services. The rising waters are habitat for mosquitoes and may lead to an increase in the incidents of malaria and other water-related and water-borne diseases (OCHA, 2022).

Habitat loss will reduce fish populations, affecting the fishing communities. Loss of arable land and increases in food prices may lead to malnutrition. Food insecurity results in reduced health outcomes in the form of acute malnutrition, famine, and death. Further, an expected increase in the number of extreme heat days can cause heat stress, while extreme precipitation can increase flooding and limit access to healthcare and other services (USAID, 2019).

Water and biodiversity resources

If the Jonglei Canal project goes ahead, together with climate change, it is likely to have negative impacts on human wellbeing, livelihoods, and the wetlands ecosystems. For instance, while the planned diversion of water through the Jonglei Canal would provide more water for downstream uses, it could affect the micro-climate of the area, and lead to reduced water availability for the current communities. Some other impacts include loss of biodiversity with impacts on the fish economy. It is likely to lead to resettlement of the pastoralist communities and impact their traditions and cultures that revolve around the wetland. The

20 16 12

8 4 0

increase in frequency and duration of drought that is projected for South Sudan would only exacerbate the situation (Trisos, Adelekan, & Totin, 2022).

On the other hand, increases in precipitation would likely test the sponge-like ability of the Sudd to absorb the excess rainfall. While the Sudd is quite resilient to variations in rainfall, when combined with other drivers such as in-migration to the Sudd and associated changes in water demand, and the impacts of variable precipitation across sectors will be magnified especially in the drier years (USAID, 2019).

Loss of ecosystem services due to Land Use Land Cover Changes (LULCC)

A study of the LULCC of the Sudd wetlands for different years (2015 to 2025 and to 2035) was undertaken for the wetland’s total economic valuation. As seen in Figure 25 there have been increases in the wetland converted to crop land and grasslands while the amount of open water and vegetation cover declined.

Comparing the total economic value across time for the different LULCC reveals that the total economic value of the wetland declines from year 2015 to 2025 and then to 2035. However, this decline did not occur for all the ecosystem services computed in this study. The provisioning ecosystem services increased from 2015 to 2025 and then to 2035 mainly due to the increase in cropland and grasslands (Table 4). Decline in vegetation cover also led to a decline in cultural, biodiversity and regulating ecosystem services (NBI, 2020).

2025 2035

SOUTH SUDAN

Sudan

IMAGERY ANALYSIS: 23 TO 27/02/2022 PUBLISHED 02/03/2022 V1.

Abiemnhom

Mayom Gogrial East

FLOOD EXTENT (23 – 27 FEB. 2022)

POPULATION POTENTIALLY EXPOSED (23 – 27 FEB. 2022)

~21,800km2

~522,000

FLOOD EXTENT (11 – 15 FEB. 2022)

POPULATION POTENTIALLY EXPOSED (11 – 15 FEB. 2022)

~30,200km2

~704,000

Fashoda Malakal

Malakal

Maban

Longochuk

Aweil West

Spatial Reference
Name: WGS 1984 UTM Zone 36N
PCS: WGS 1984 UTM Zone 36N Resolution: 375 m GCS: GCS WGS 1984
Datum: WGS 1984

Satellite Data (1): NOAA-20/VIIRS

Boundary data: OCHA
Road data: OpenStreetMap Populated place: OpenStreetMap Waterways: OpenStreetMap Population data: Worldpop [2020]

Background: ESRI Basemap
Analysis: United Nations Satellite Centre (UNOSAT) Production: United Nations Satellite Centre (UNOSAT)

Aweil North

Aweil East

Aweil

Aweil South
Gogrial

West

Kuajok

Wau

Jur River

Nzara Western

Equatoria Yambio

Rubkona Bentiu Unity Guit

Koch

Mayendit

DR Congo

Juba

Juba

0

20 40

35°E

80 KM

Northern Bahr el Ghazal

Twic

Fangak

Duk

Canal-Pigi

Western Bahr el Ghazal

Central African Republic

26°E

Figure 24: South Sudan floods in 2021 (UNOSAT, 2022)

Ethiopia

Pochalla

Pibor

Pibor

Wau

Tonj South

Tonj

South Sudan Twic East

Nagero Tambura

Bor South

Satellite Data (1): NOAA-20/VIIRS Imagery Date: 23 to 27 Feb. 2022

Maridi

Imagery Date: 11 to 15 Feb. 2022 Resolution: 375 m
Copyright: NOAA/Suomi NPP Source: NOAA

29°E

Copyright: NOAA/Suomi NPP

Budi Kapoeta
Torit
33°E South 34°E

Source: NOAA

32°E

27°E 28°E

Ezo

Ibba

Abyei Region

Pariang

Tonj East
Rumbek North

Akobo

Cueibet

Wulu

Rumbek Centre

Rumbek Lakes East

Mvolo

Mundri West

Rumbek

Yirol East

Yirol West

Leer

Panyijiar

Ayod

Mundri East

Lafon

Geographics,

30°E Yei Lainya 31°E
United Nations Satellite Centre (UNOSAT) -7 bis Avenue de la Paix, CH-1202 Geneva 2, Switzerland – T: +41 22 917 4720 (UNOSAT Operations) – Hotline 24/7 : +41 75 411 4998 – unosat@unitar.org – www.unitar.org/unosat

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Figure 25: Change in LULCC of the Nile Basin wetlands (2015 to 2025 and to 2035) (NBI, 2020) 25

Panyikang

Bor

Terekeka

Awerial

Central Equatoria

North Eastern Equatoria

Luakpiny/Nasir Ulang

Maiwut

Kapoeta

Earthstar

̄

Photo credit: Eugene Apindi Ochieng/EPI

Shrub herb. flooded Shrub cover areas Tree cover areas Herbaceous cover Cropland Tree cover flooded Water bodies Mosaic tree and shrub Grassland Builtup areas Bare areas

Area(’000 km2)

5°N

6°N 7°N

8°N 9°N

10°N 11°N

5°N

6°N 7°N

8°N 9°N

10°N 11°N

Table 4: Change in total economic values of different ecosystem services with change in land use land cover 2015-2035 (NBI, 2020)

4. Environmental Governance

Safeguarding the integrity of the Sudd Wetlands falls under the purview of several ministries. First is the Ministry of Environment and Forestry whose mandate is the development of a policy and regulatory framework for wetlands and biodiversity management; and secondly the Ministry of Wildlife Conservation and Tourism that is responsible protected area management within the Sudd region.

The Sudd is a Ramsar site but there are challenges with environmental governance due to the lack of policies, laws, and guidelines related to wetland conservation. Compounding the situation is the lack of information on the wetlands to support decision making. To that end, it is highly recommended that a wetland inventory be undertaken to generate the data and information required.

The Sudd Wetlands currently have no management plan (MoE, 2018). There is opportunity to build supervisory and regulatory capacity and develop management plans for the protected areas and the entire Sudd wetland system.

According to the (MoEF, 2019), key national legislations for biodiversity management include the National Environmental Protection Bill 2013; The Draft Wildlife Bill 2013 and the Wildlife Conservation and Protected Areas Bill 2015; The Water Bill 2013; and the Forests Bill 2009. Draft Policies include: The Draft National Environment Policy 2013; and the South Sudan Wildlife Conservation and Protected Area Policy (Draft of June 2012). South Sudan also participates in regional and global networks in support of sustainable management of wetland resources such as the Ramsar Convention. Some of the activities that have been undertaken and proposed under this convention are listed verbatim below (MoE, 2018):

Relevant key stakeholders have been identified and cross-sectoral committee will be established for the Sudd wetland Ramsar site.

Effectiveness of the Sudd Ramsar site was assessed in 2006 using the Ramsar handbook for the criteria for designation of the wetland as a Ramsar site.

The local stakeholders and communities are involved in the management of the Ramsar site by encouraging traditional and customary methods of management and conserving wetlands.

It is planned to:

– survey, research and assess the ecosystem benefits and services provided by the Sudd wetlands Ramsar site

– include socioeconomic and cultural values of wetlands as part of the management plan for the Sudd wetland Ramsar sites.

– Establish a communications system to assist the Ramsar site managers (when appointed)

Civil society is actively involved in advocacy and policy relevant research. The Sudd Environment Agency (SEA) was formed in 2019 to advocate for the protection of the Sudd environment with a specific focus preventing oil pollution. They recently spearheaded a new consortium – the Environment and Climate Change Network – to strengthen advocacy. The civil society organizations involved in this consortium include Yo’ Care, People Initiative Development Organization, Africa Centre for Research and Development, and the Sudd Environment Agency.

Research as an underpinning necessity for evidence-based policy making and decision making is a growth area in South Sudan. The independently run Sudd Institute conducts research with the aim of encouraging policy conversations, improving the capacity to analyze different scenarios and strategy formulation in the country to support decision making in South Sudan. Two laws – the Southern Sudan Research Council Act 2007 and Kush Institution Act 2008 both enable the establishment of government think tanks for this purpose.

Ecosystem service201520252035Change
Total ValueTotal ValueTotal Value2015 to 20252015 to 20352025 to 2035
Crop35,793,57636,936,90037,783,2001,143,3241,989,624846,300
Fish6,347,1005,640,1625,036,366(706,938)(1,310,734)(603,796)
Papyrus8,563,2688,563,2688,563,268
Papyrus crafts21,056,85721,056,85721,056,857
Domestic water supply5,156,8705,156,8705,156,870
Livestock watering47,625,27147,625,27147,625,271
Livestock grazing119,063,178119,063,178119,063,178
Fuelwood1,104,6821,029,544989,818(75,137)(114,864)(39,727)
Natural medicine2,480,7692,485,6292,489,9504,8619,1814,321
Charcoal3,560,8703,560,8703,560,870
Vegetation583,533565,349552,771(18,184)(30,762)(12,578)
Mulch2,162,8172,590,0002,530,957427,183368,139(59,043)
Total provisioning253,498,789254,273,897254,409,374775,108910,585135,477
Transport148,480131,942117,817(16,538)(30,662)(14,125)
Microclimate regulation744,040,984743,048,478742,250,022(992,506)(1,790,962)(798,457)
Flood control971,519,357970,223,409969,180,838(1,295,948)(2,338,520)(1,042,572)
Water regulation84,231,05584,118,69684,028,304(112,359)(202,750)(90,391)
Total regulating service1,799,791,3961,797,390,5831,795,459,164(2,400,813)(4,332,232)(1,931,419)
Biodiversity1,232,581,1021,230,936,9131,229,614,187(1,644,189)(2,966,915)(1,322,726)
GRAND TOTAL3,286,019,7673,282,733,3363,279,600,542(3,286,431)(6,419,224)(3,132,793)

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5. Challenges and opportunities for action

Despite the numerous challenges in the Sudd area, the natural resources present a multitude of opportunities to enhance the livelihoods and wellbeing of the people. There are calls for research into environmentally and economically sustainable alternatives to encourage wise use of resources while encouraging the protection and management of the Sudd ecosystem. Agriculture, ecotourism, financing of wetland restoration, modernization of fishing practices and research are some of the areas of opportunity.

Agriculture

Despite the huge economic value of the Sudd, benefits are not directly accruing to people living there. Proposed solutions like agricultural expansion are likely incompatible with wetland preservation. Rice is the main crop grown in the region due to the flooding which is naturally favorable for the cultivation of rice. Millet and maize are also grown. The crop growing season in the Sudd lasts from April till September. This short duration of the rainy season and the erratic distribution of rainfall during the growing period are the mains limiting factors for agriculture in South Sudan (not the agricultural potential). Hence, it might be prudent for the government of South Sudan to consider promoting climate-smart agricultural techniques to improve livelihoods and food security under changing climatic patterns and implementing provisions of the Irrigation Development Master Plan developed in 2015 for improving crop yields.

Investment in the livestock sector

Cattle, sheep, and goats are the main livestock animals in South Sudan. It is estimated that the total value of goods and services provided by livestock to the South Sudan economy in 2013 was US $3.173 billion (ICPALD), 2016). Livestock are used to provide milk, food and other products. They can be used as cash, or as gifts for instance as at weddings and provide income through seasonal farm work or herding. They are a source of wealth and reduce vulnerabilities and enhance household resilience through difficult seasons.

Factors driving poverty in agro-pastoral and pastoral livelihood zones are insecurity, livestock disease, floods and the economy (Cullis, 2021). Disparities in wealth are seen through inequalities in family size, children in school or in employment, land holdings and in livestock. For instance, the more well-off families

may own between 100 and 200 times more livestock than those at the bottom of the wealth ladder. About 60-70 of agro-pastoral households and 34 per cent of pastoral households are categorized as poor or very poor (Cullis, 2021).

Poverty is a major limiting factor. It is disempowering, and can lead to food insecurity, ill health, conflict and instability. In fact, conflict has weakened South Sudan’s social networks as these are based on livestock-related transactions which are minimal. There has been an increase in the number of poorer households, and this is beyond the capacity of the ‘wealthy’ social safety nets to support in the form of food gifts among others. It is important that policy consider investing in the livestock sector given its importance to societal wellbeing (Cullis, 2021).

Ecotourism

Given the biological diversity and unique landscape, tourism is often put forward as a potential for sustainable development and it is even estimated that a well-managed high-quality, low volume industry could generate the economy US $600 million per year. However, whilst insecurity reigns, it is difficult to see how the tourism industry could begin to grow. To address this issue, it is recommended that the government undertake strategic and financial planning for wildlife protected areas so that revenue generated can be utilized to cover some of the costs needed to adequately protect some key wildlife areas such as those in the Sudd wetlands (MoEF, 2019).

Financing of wetland restoration

Wetland restoration is a strategy that has been proven work by supporting livelihoods, creating new or improved ecosystem services, and supporting carbon sequestration. Wetland’s restoration is listed in South Sudan’s second Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) to United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change. Not much has been done as the extent of the restorative work has not yet been mapped. As such it is not possible to assess the scale of the benefits. Undertaking this activity would then allow financial resources to be secured to support implementation.

Wetland reclamation is hard to fund because the benefits are not tangible and are often dispersed. To that end, it is recommended that the government seek creative or alternative funding sources such as Payment for Ecosystem Services, an approach where downstream beneficiaries pay for the services. Although this is complex for wetland restoration

activities and is compounded by the water politics of the Nile basin. There is value is pushing for a wetland equivalent to the UN Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) programme, which pays for results-based emissions reductions (Darbyshire, 2021).

Modernization fishing practices

The fishing industry in South Sudan is poorly developed by modern production standards yet there is opportunity for this industry to improve food security, support livelihoods and income generation, and economic transformation with industrial growth, exports, and job creation leading to significant increases in the Gross Domestic Product (Mimbugbe, 2021).

Fishing in South Sudan is practiced as a complementary seasonal livelihood strategy by pastoralists when they

return to the dry season grazing grounds. Despite huge potential, there is lack of support infrastructure, inadequate and inappropriate fishing equipment and difficulty of transportation between production and consumption areas. The fish catch is thus limited just to meet the domestic and available markets demand. Some of the challenges include inefficient fishing and processing technology which leads to high postharvest losses, lack of organization and skills to scale up their operations, multiple taxes on dried and smoked fish products. In addition, landing sites are poorly developed and there is lack of cold storage facilities, financing, modern value-addition services, quality control and market orientation programs to support the sector. There is need to modernize and invest in the fish sector. The following case study from Bor highlights the challenges and opportunities in the fishing sector.

Photo credit: Eugene Apindi Ochieng/EPI

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Further research by international scientific community

Significant knowledge gaps exist, and it is critical to address the need for further research into the various social, cultural, environmental, and economic aspects of the Sudd wetlands. Some of the areas for inclusion on the research agenda include (Darbyshire, 2021):

  • The functioning of the Sudd ecosystems, hydrological processes, impact of climate change and potential sources and sink of GHGs.
  • The role of the Sudd as a regional rainfall modulator
  • Hydrological modelling to support analysis of the impacts of reviving the Jonglei canal project
  • Culturalstudiestodeterminepossibleimpactson communities and livelihoods from construction of the Jonglei Canal and draining of the Sudd. These would inform the development of a Sudd wetlands management plan (MoE, 2018).
  • Studies to understand the GHG dynamics of the Sudd. This is because a supporting opinion for construction of the Jonglei canal is to mitigate emissions from oil expansion and to reduce natural emissions of methane. However, not enough is known about the Sudd’s carbon storage or sink capabilities. If the wetlands are a carbon sink, and degraded areas can be restored, there is potential for compensation as a carbon store like ecosystem compensation services under REDD (Darbyshire, 2021).
  • Research to examine the effect of cultivation duration and flooding regimes on soil seed bank species richness, diversity, and density and composition (Easete, Bongo, Lado, Bojoi, & Busulwa, 2021). Soil seed banks are important for regeneration of degraded wetlands ecosystems. Climate finance Climate finance relates to the money which needs to be spent on a whole range of activities which will contribute to slowing down climate change and which will help the world to reach the target of limiting global warming to an increase of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. To reach this goal, the world needs to reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions to practically zero by 2050; the phrase net-zero is also heard frequently in the context of financing climate action. Initiatives that must be financed to reach net-zero include those which reduce emissions of harmful gasses as well as

enhancing or protecting the natural processes which capture those gasses.

There are several UN-backed international climate funds, for example:

  • ClimateInvestmentFunds(CIFs):The$8billion fund “accelerates climate action by empowering transformations in clean technology, energy access, climate resilience, and sustainable forests in developing and middle-income countries.”
  • GreenClimateFund(GCF):SetupbytheUNFCCC in 2010, GCF is the world’s largest dedicated climate fund, mandated to support mitigation and adaptation action equally in developing countries.
  • Adaptation Fund (AF): The fund has committed some $830m since 2010 to help vulnerable communities in developing countries adapt to climate change
  • Global Environment Facility: GEF aims to “catalyze transformational change in key systems that are driving major environmental loss”, in particular energy, cities and food.
  • UN-REDD:ThreeUNagencies(UNEP,UNDPand FAO) teamed up a decade ago to protect forests, a “pre-eminent nature-based solution to the climate emergency”.
  • Clean Technology Fund (CTF): The $5.4bn is “empowering transformation in developing countries by providing resources to scale up low carbon technologies” (UN, 2021).
  • In addition, in the voluntary carbon market, carbon credits are purchased by companies or individuals to help reduce their impact on climate change. Companies may purchase carbon credits to become “carbon neutral” or “green” companies. Individuals may purchase credits to offset their emissions from activities such as flying. To curb climate change, big companies like Microsoft, Google, and Starbucks are setting ambitious goals to achieve carbon neutrality and the Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM) is helping them to do so. (GCF, 2022). Considering the significant carbon sequestration potential of Sudd wetlands, VCM may provide a significant opportunity to GoSS, but major challenges remain in accessing such a market.
South Sudan | Improving catch and reducing post-harvest losses for fishing communities in Bor South through knowledge (OCHA, 2021)
Even with the fertile waters of the White Nile and its tributaries, life-long fisher Deng Abdulai’s catch always fell short of providing a sufficient income for his family. Waking at 2:00 a.m. to paddle his heavy dugout canoe, Deng would typically reach his fishing grounds in as many as four hours. Paddling against heavy currents and often spending nights in his canoe in sometimes harsh weather conditions requires resilience, endurance and determination. Despite his efforts, a lack of supplies and the perennial threat of spoilage because of the long voyage back to the community meant Deng struggled to feed and care for his wife, two children and extended family. With over 1.7 million people dependent on fishing as a source of livelihood, many of South Sudan’s fishing communities still lack the capacity to preserve their catch and adequately use available fisheries resources for their economic benefit. Deng lives in the village of Pariyak in Kolynyang Payam of Bor South County, an area in Jonglei State devastated by floods in 2020 and among the ten counties in South Sudan where food insecurity is extremely dire. While the already vulnerable population saw the destruction of their homes and livelihoods because of the heavy rains, the Nile and its tributaries presented the only means of generating income for many. The son of a long line of fisherfolk, Deng had learned the essential skills of net-braiding and fishing as a boy when he and his father would use their dugout canoe to go fishing and set nets. In the past, due to constraints and limited knowledge, fisherfolk in this community would land few fish, mostly only enough for family consumption. In 2017, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) began activities to enhance the production, resilience and sustainability of the agriculture, fisheries and livestock sectors by addressing vulnerabilities that lead to food insecurity and malnutrition. Through the Sustainable Agriculture for Economic Resiliency (SAFER) project funded by the Government of the United States of America through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), FAO and partners quickly identified communities such as Pariyak to revitalize the fisheries sector and sensitize people on the importance of responsible fishing for increased and sustainable production. Since activities began, fisherfolk from three states in South Sudan – Jonglei, Lakes and Western Equatoria – received 80 fiberglass canoes, fishing kits, bags and tarpaulins. With the onset of heavy rains culminating in devastating floods, the project expanded its fisheries focus and by June 2021 had provided over 5,700 fishing twines and 2,750 fishing hooks to 570 fisherfolk belonging to 18 fishing groups. Encouraged by FAO staff, Deng and his community of fishers organized themselves into the 30-member Pariyak Fishing Group. Although the group had been fishing together prior to the intervention, the project formalized it to establish a network of support, promote savings, disseminate knowledge through trainings and provide fishing inputs. Overall, the trainings have had great impact on the group’s success and the lives of its members, whether through newfound marketing knowledge or new technical skills. For instance, while many in the group had preexisting knowledge on net making, FAO offered additional techniques including adjusting the size of the nets to increase a catch. Deng describes how his group constructed a fish smoking oven and applies the techniques they learned to safeguard their stock. “The trainings have drastically improved our catch. Now that we know how to preserve our fish through smoking and drying, we’re able to maintain the quality and more easily sell to traders.” The Pariyak Fishing Group is one of many in Jonglei that have taken advantage of the high waters to increase their catch and income, utilizing the three fiberglass canoes and fishing kits supplied by FAO. Importantly, the group maintained their profits and increased catch after direct support slowed. On average, the fishing groups in Bor catch about 100-150 fish per day, earning them up to SSP 150 000 – the equivalent of around USD 150 – each day. Now the members can buy sorghum, the staple crop of the area, for home consumption, medicine, to pay for school fees and to cover other basic expenses. With the slow increase in water levels around the tributaries and plains making fish more available, the delivery of inputs from FAO allowed fisherfolk to catch more. “Now, with our increase in earnings we are hoping to buy a motorboat, which will allow us to cover even more area and stay out later without having to paddle against the strong current,” said Deng. Through their determination and ability to absorb and bounce back from severe shocks, fishing groups like Deng’s in Pariyak demonstrate the resilience achieved by many vulnerable people (OCHA, 2021).

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6. Key recommendations

Employ a Resilient Management Strategy combining action, science, and learning from best practice in the Sudd: Given the value of the natural resources and their contribution to ecosystem health and human wellbeing such as the pastoralists, livestock and other benefits accrued from the Sudd wetlands, the government should promote policies that maintain the healthy functioning of the Sudd Wetland by protecting and restoring the goods and services they provide. This might include designating additional protected area status. For instance, the suggested UNESCO World Heritage Site listing. Implementing this would require resilient management strategies that can adapt to shifting geo-politics, changes in water demand and the impacts of climate change.

Carry out Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIA) of infrastructure projects: The requirements under the Ramsar Convention stipulate that the government do everything in its power to maintain the integrity of the Sudd ecosystem. Rigorous environmental and social impact assessments based on credible scientific information should be conducted before embarking upon infrastructure projects. Such ESIA’s should consider impacts to livelihoods, security issues, population displacement and degradation of ecosystem services, among others.

Examine the policies, practices and impacts of the possible revival of the Jonglei Canal: This should be based on the results of an ESIA based

on rigorous scientific data collection and analysis. If pursued, the government should adhere to the core principle of ‘water for South Sudanese people and ecosystems first’ before releasing excess water to downstream countries. There would also be need to mitigate flood intensity by negotiating with the country’s upstream riparian countries. Water management in South Sudan should account for the following issues:

– Water for ecosystem services

– Water for electricity generation

– Water for irrigation

-Management of excess water to reduce flooding.

Deploy an early warning system for flood and drought: According to recent IPCC scenarios, more seasonal flooding and drought are likely to occur in the region in future (Trisos, Adelekan, & Totin, 2022). Early warning systems (EWS) are key elements of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, to avoid or reduce the damages caused from such hazards. To that end, the government should strengthen capacity for drought and flood Early Warning Systems through improved hydro-meteorological monitoring network and timely communication to community level. There is opportunity to leverage ongoing initiatives like the USAID Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), FAO Global information and early warning system (GIEWS), and the OCHA Anticipatory Humanitarian Action framework, among others.

Photo credit: Eugene Apindi Ochieng/EPI

Strengthening of hydro meteorological system should include, among others, Automatic Weather Station, Cup Counter Anemometer, Pyranometer for Shortwave and global Radiation, Rain Gauge, Rainfall Recorder and logger, Standard Weather Station, Stream gauges, Evaporation Recorder, Wind Vane and Temperature Humidity Recorders. Capacity building for this equipment may also be required.

The GOSS should negotiate and enter bilateral agreements for improvement of water information sharing with upstream countries of the Nile River such as Uganda and setting limits on release of excessive water from Ugandan dams and reservoirs.

Improving flood control measures and recovering local economies: The buildup of biomass in the Sudd/ along the Nile has been clogging the waterways and disbursing the water across all the tributaries and their surrounding area. Flood control measures, like dykes, dredging, removal of biomass for clearing water channels, small canals and irrigation channels, reclamation of land, should be considered to

support local fishing and agriculture. Dredging will not only help the streamflow, but also improve water navigation. Areas suitable for deep water or shallow water dredging should be identified after ESIAs. Agriculture production in rainfed areas could be improved by implementing the proposed Irrigation Master plan of 2015.

Reduce uncertainties by promoting scientific research: The Sudd wetlands have not attracted the attention of the global research community due to the conflict and its remote location. As indicated in sections of this report there are many areas that require attention. These include spatial extent and variability of the Sudd, water availability, evapotranspiration rate, impacts of climate change, impact of Sudd on regional climate, extent of peatlands, carbon sequestration potential, cultural and ecosystem dynamics. The government together with development partners such as UNEP should endeavor to put the Sudd on the global research agenda. Results would be important to national level decisions on the wise use of the Sudd wetlands ecosystem for the future security, sustainability, and stability of South Sudan.

Photo credit: Eugene Apindi Ochieng/EPI

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HUMANITARIAN STORIES

SIX ORGANIZATIONS MARCH IN KITALE TOWN TO RAISE AWARENESS ON THE RIGHT OF REFUGEES ON WORLD REFUGEES DAY 2022.

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SOUTH SUDANESE REFUGEES MARCHING IN KITALE TOWN PHOTO TAKEN BY BIOR GARANG
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Kitale 20 June 2022 – Kitale town was brought to a standstill as Six Organizations came together in a first of its kind Pride march to bring awareness to the plight and rights of refugees to seek safety and asylum wherever they can. A South Sudanese Youth Lead Organization Sixty  Four Voice, with support from Fields of peace Organization, joined the Kenya Red cross Trans Nzoia Branch, UNHCR, Kenya Police Kitale, the Kitale Transporters association, and the Kenya Red cross Kitale Club. 

Special focus was placed on the sensitization of transporter to inform them on the importance of treating with compassion and care asylum seekers and to know asylum seekers like all human beings have rights and chief among these is the right to seek safety and asylum from prosecution or harm, these theme of targeting transporters for sensitisation were strategically arrived at since transporters are always the first contact persons with fleeing asylum seeks.

Trans-Nzoia has been for long the busiest transit site for East African refugees as the Kenya Red Cross Trans-Nzoia branch hosts the only urban asylum seeker holding and pre-processing facilitation center, the center had in the past been known for substandard conditions, few and inadequate living quarters with no gender separations, but recently with great leadership and management from the 

center county coordinator Miss Ruth Miningwo the center has gained a new lease of life and conditions improved from what they used to be. 

The Trans-Nzoia corridor has been in the past known for all the wrong reasons with a lot of asylum seekers who rarely speak the local language falling prey to unscrupulous opportunistic criminals and become the objects of mistreatment harassment and ill-treatment, many asylum seekers have been increasingly reporting, these cases, the other issue raised were the need for the local community, especially the transporters to follow the needed procedures of taking new asylum seekers to the nearest police stations for reception and reporting to the Red cross-processing centers.

World refugee day is celebrated to ring attention to the plight of refugees and asylum seekers all over the world. This year’s event was held under the theme: whoever, wherever, whenever everyone has the right to seek safety, while the procession theme was ”seeking safety is a human right”.

The day’s procession started from the Kenya Red cross offices and snaked its way through the whole town with brief stops being made in each major center to inform the public of the day with the climax being at the main bus park where speeches were delivered to the public. 

Miss Ruth Miningwo The Trans Nzoia County coordinator of Kenya Red Cross Society Said all refugees have the right to seek asylum and feel at home wherever they find themselves, she also stated the need for the local transporters to treat asylum seekers as their brothers and sisters as most arrive when they have been exposed to great traumas and abuse from their home countries, she also added that the good work the local community has been doing in helping with the red cross activities has been greatly helping in making easy their works of serving the most vulnerable in these communities,

Constable Josephine representing the Kenya police deteriorated their full support of refugees as humans who have rights like all other human beings and deserve to be protected and received with love just like all people should, she also requested the community to collaborate with the police as the police are there to protect everybody and work for the safety of all,

Mr. Bior Garang who spoke on behalf of Sixty Four voices and Field of Peace as well as representing the South Sudanese community & refugees stated the need for respecting refugees as people with rights, he also noted the need to stop the killing of children as conflicts affects children & the vulnerable most, he stated that many organizations such as the fields of peace are very concerned with the shocking facts that reveal 9 civilian deaths to every 1 combatant death, and amongst these 9 deaths most are children and as such war has become the killing of children. 

Recent Reports show that In the past decade the number of refugees in eastern Africa has nearly tripled, from 1.82 million in 2012 to almost five million today including 300,000 new refugees last year alone, however, The growth in refugee numbers has not been matched by a growth in resources, placing more strain on the local host communities which usually Leeds to negative perceptions of refugees as competitors for resources with the local communities. 

The event was brought to a close at the Kenya Red cross Trans-Nzoia center where shoes and other donated items from the local communities were shared with the asylum seekers being hosted in the center.

The event in Kitale was designed to bring to light these issues while advocating for the rights of refugees, though the Kitale event was the most significant event where urban refugees had to interact with the local host communities while  In Kalobeyei refugee settlement in northern Kenya, refugee and host communities celebrated World Refugee Day together. The different communities showed off their traditional dances. The ceremony afterward was attended by UNHCR and government officials, Goodwill Ambassador, and refugee athlete Pur Biel.

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