JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN - Germany has donated $10.9 million to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) to provide food aid to communities hard hit by widespread flooding across South Sudan. A WFP official who just returned from Pibor said the flooding is a real emergency that requires an immediate response.
The WFP country director for South Sudan, Matthew Hollingworth, said Germany’s donation will put a major dent in the amount the U.N. agency needs to respond to the humanitarian emergency.
He said the money will pay for life-saving humanitarian and resilience activities, and to respond to ongoing flooding.
“The World Food Program is saying we need $40 million urgently just to meet the next three months. The need of around 750,000 people who need emergency food assistance, that is only for the next three months,” Hollingworth told VOA's South Sudan in Focus program.
Heavy rains beginning in July have caused floods that washed away thousands of homes and crops, and have displaced nearly a million people, particularly in the greater Upper Nile and Bahr al Ghazal regions of former Jonglei, Bahr El-Ghazal and former Upper Nile states.
Majai Lul, who lives in Bieh State, said it is hard to get anything done when the entire area is under water. “We cannot move anywhere because the whole area is full of water and even if there is any place where there is food, you cannot go there to bring it,” Lul told South Sudan in Focus.
He said people in his village of Waat are struggling to find higher ground over fears that additional heavy rains are imminent.
“The whole land is full of water and as I speak to you now I am in the water; the water has flooded all our houses,” Lul told VOA.
Last month, the government declared a state of emergency in greater Bahr al-Ghazal, Greater Upper Nile and the Greater Equatoria regions, and it made an urgent appeal for humanitarian intervention.
Hollingworth said the WFP is ramping up its operations to provide aid to the most flood-affected communities across South Sudan.
“People have lost their homes, they have lost animals, their livestock either drowned, their sheep, their goats, [and in] some cases their cows are drowned if the floods have been particularly high and [it is] very worrying now in areas where floodwater is staying, the pasture land is under water. So even if their animals are safe, where are they going to feed for the next two, three or five weeks?” Hollingworth asked aloud.
Hollingworth describes the situation as acute, with many people fleeing to higher ground. “The scale of the crisis is great. There are 31 counties in six of the old states that have been affected, so this not a small flooding operation in one area of the country,” said Hollingworth.
He calls it the worst flooding in 40 years for this part of Africa. The U.N. said in a statement last week that it needs $61 million to save lives and ensure the continuity of response to flood victims in South Sudan.
Hollingworth said the U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund is considering providing funds that would help cover food and basic services for flood-affected communities across South Sudan.