‘Uncharted territory’: South Sudan’s four years of flooding

‘Uncharted territory’: South Sudan’s four years of flooding

Four straight years of flooding, an unprecedented phenomenon linked to climate change, has swamped two-thirds of South Sudan but nowhere more dramatically than Bentiu, a northern city besieged by water.

One million people in the Nile Basin nation have been affected by year-on-year floods that have submerged an area larger than Denmark in a cycle of extreme inundations since 2019.

Millions of livestock have perished and 10 percent of the country’s arable land has turned to swamp at a time when 7.7 million people do not have enough to eat.

Record-breaking rainfall over great lakes in upstream countries pushed enormous volumes of water into the White Nile, spilling over the plains downstream in a slow-moving disaster.

Vast tracts of land became so saturated that water could not drain away. Even during the dry season the levels stayed high, creating what Nall called “permanent wetlands” in places like Bentiu.

Experts say the water in some areas may not recede for years, even decades.

Far from a one-off shock, the floods represent a more permanent change for subsistence farmers and cattle herders, who are fleeing to cities, totally unprepared for what comes next.