Public Participation on Rivers dredging is incomplete without Diaspora South Sudanese

By Dak Buoth

14th July, 2022I )strongly applaud and appreciate President Salva Kiir, for ordering an immediate suspension of the ‘‘dredging related activities’’ in the country. I thanks him not just because he ordered the dredging to be put on halt, but largely because he listened and responded swiftly and positively to the ordinary south Sudanese, who are justifiably opposed to the Nile and Naam Rivers dredging by Egyptian government until or unless an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is undertaken as required by the law.
By doing this, President Kiir has broken the record. Thus, he deserves our applauses. For the first time, I have seen him siding with the people and not his few cabinet ministers and advisors some of whom ae less knowledgeable on this critical subject of environment.
If the President had done the obvious, by siding with his cabinet ministers or Advisors, perhaps the dredging would have started the same day when Egyptian convoys and Machineries arrived in South Sudan.
On 30th June, during the funeral prayer of the late Irrigation and Water Resources Minister, Manawa Gatkuoth Gual, most of his cabinet ministers including three of his vice presidents were seen and heard supporting the dredging without sufficient or scientific reasons.
I think the backing of unilateral dredging by the First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar and Vice President, Gen. Taban Deng is political. They supported the dredging to please the citizens of unity state, who are ignorantly demanding the dredging due to their legitimate frustration on the recurring flood in Unity state.
However, their support for dredging based on flood is contradictory, because they refused to visit to Unity State to show their solidarity to governor Manytuil and the people. Any way their case is understandable because Dr. Riek Machar and General Taban are politicians whose interest is to go where people want.
Nonetheless, Former American first lady, Rosalynn Carter once said and I quote ‘‘a leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.’’ President Kiir acted as a great leader when he conditionally ordered the suspension of the controversial dredging. President Kiir did not act in isolation. As I alluded to in the above paragraphs, he was simply responding to the clarion calls by the people especially the Senior Youth of South Sudan, who came out stating categorically that, the dredging exercise was irregular.
I’m excited that the youth are standing by waiting to do what is expected of them. Meshack Wafula Sitialo in his book titled ‘‘Ethical Youth leadership’’ avers that ‘‘The Youth are the generation of the future. They therefore have a major stake in the state of the environment. It is therefore their duty not to allow the current leaders to destroy the environment and leave them relics as their inheritance.’’
Personally, I’m on record in this matter dredging. My initial reason for objecting the dredging is that an Environmental Impact Assessment be done first. More often than not, Environmental Impact Assessment is characterized by public participation that has so far commenced at the University of Juba.
However, in the case of South Sudan, Public participation without the involvement or input from the diaspora South Sudanese is incomplete; owing to the fact that, vast majority of South Sudanese ran into exile due to civil war. Similarly, many South Sudanese particularly from Unity and Jonglei states left for diaspora partly because of the environmental and water related problems.
Therefore, both victims and beneficiaries of the rivers and waters should be made part and parcel of the ongoing public participation on dredging. Moreover, Public participation is a right enshrined in our domestic and international legal instruments, and it is not a preserved of those residing in the country alone.
On 1st June, 2022, when the Egyptian convoys and machineries meant for dredging were seen sneaking to South Sudan via Unity State without our knowledge, vigilant South Sudanese in Kenya were among the first people to blow the whistle, asking and demanding answers whether or not feasibility study was undertaken before.
Without much ado, I now rise and write to submit a demand for public participation and consultation on dredging in the diaspora mainly in East Africa. Reason being that this is a national issue, because our environment and water are the main sources of our lives. In other words, Water is life. Once we messed up with these issues then we are as good as finished. Water and environment are both national and international concerns that, needs a wide consultation from variety of Sources and experts.
I repeat this is a national issue, for our national flag has about five main colors one being the blue which means water.
So, we need to talk and tread carefully especially when doing business of water with foreigners especially Egyptian government that has vested interest on the Nile Water.

The Writer is the Chairman of Liech Community Association in Kenya; the views expressed here are his own, and he can be reached for comments via



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