Before floodwaters struck South Sudan in September, washing away his entire farm and also drowned 30 cows, 58-year-old Solomon Manyok used to live comfortably in Duk, in the flood-hit Jonglei state.
“I was having 30 cows which used to provide milk for my children and grandchildren, but when floodwaters came, there was no way I could relocate my cows. They all died and I am now left with nothing,” Manyok told Xinhua in an interview on Thursday.
Manyok fled his home in late September after floods swept through several villages in the Jonglei region, destroying farmlands and houses.
He said this year’s flooding is the worst he has ever seen in 40-years.
“The floods have also destroyed our farms, and this year will go without any harvest. I don’t know what my family will eat when we return home,” Manyok said.
Manyok who now lives with his extended family in a temporary camp in Mangalla, a town some 75 kilometers away from South Sudan’s capital, Juba said life has become very difficult since his arrival.
“Life is hard in the camp. I just pray that the flood water dries up and I return to my village because there is nothing I’m doing here,” Manyok stressed.
Like Manyok, over one million people in South Sudan have been affected by nearly six months of devastating floods, according to the latest figures released by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Thursday.
OCHA said Jonglei state is the worst affected across South Sudan, with 4,040,000 affected people.
“The water came at night when I was sleeping with my children. And when I woke up, I got my property floating on water,” said 28-year-old Ayen Gach Awan.
The mother of five children said life is very difficult in the camp because there is little to eat.
“We are surviving with assistance from relatives and well-wishers because we don’t have much to eat. Things are really difficult for us,” Gach said.
In an effort to ramp up support for flood victims, South Sudanese president Salva Kiir in August declared a state of emergency in the flood-affected areas.
But the UN has warned that flood response activities are being hampered by persistent heavy rains, infrastructure damage, insecurity, and limited resources.
The UN Food Agency, World Food Program (WFP) also warned on Thursday that the floods could worsen an already dire situation, where over six million people – half of South Sudan’s population are facing severe food shortages.
It added that there is an urgent need for logistical support with assets and riverine transport to move cargo to priority locations.
“We ran away from our homes because we don’t have anything to eat. We are staying without food and drinking dirty water,” said 23-year-old Deborah Ako.
“We ask the government to bring us assistance because the living conditions are not good in the camp,” the mother of three children appealed.