Koch County, Unity
2016 population projection: 107,425
Major population centers: Koch, Kuach, Mir Mir towns
Major ethnic group: Nuer (Jagey Nuer clan) with minority of Lam Nuer in Boaw payam
There was significant displacement in Koch County during the 2013 – 2015 conflict. As of June 2016, there were an estimated 55,000 IDPs in the County and Koch residents also accounted for 16.9percent of the 149,023 IDPs at the UNMISS Bentiu Protection of Civilians camp (POC).
Economy & livelihoods
According to a 2014 International Rescue Committee (IRC) assessment, the majority of Koch County residents depend on farming and livestock rearing for their livelihoods (roughly 70percent and 30 percent, respectively). The main crops cultivated are maize, sorghum, cowpeas, beans, simsim and pumpkin. Many families also maintain vegetable gardens in the dry season, growing kudhura, okra onion, tomatoes and eggplant. Apart from Koch and Boaw payams, where mainly maize is cultivated; sorghum is the staple crop in other areas. Some residents also gather wild fruits and vegetables (amaranths, spider flower, moringa leaves etc), and fish to supplement their diets. Trade in firewood, charcoal, grass, milk and brewing alcohol were also livelihood activities.
According to the WFP, Koch County was considered one of the most food insecure in the country even before the onset of the 2013 crisis. In a normal year, harvests would reportedly last a household roughly four months. Following depletion of household stocks, around June, residents would be heavily dependent on the market. Markets in Koch receive nearly 30 percent of their commodities from Khartoum, and the rest from Juba (via other counties), according to the IRC assessment.
Cattle raiding between Koch residents and communities in neighboring Pariang, Rubkona and Mayom Counties, as well as within communities in Koch, have been a longstanding security threat. The Jagey Nuer are reportedly traditional rivals of Bul Nuer and Leek Nuer from Mayom and Rubkona, respectively. It appears some incidents of cattle raiding in Koch continued against the backdrop of the SPLM/A SPLM/A IO conflict, including in early 2016, though details are difficult to verify owing to inaccessibility of the region.
IPC projection for Jan-Mar 2016
The County is classified as “Emergency” for this time period. According to the Annual Needs and Livelihood Analysis 2014 2015** report, the County‘s food security levels had severely deteriorated during the reporting period, with a cereal deficit of 9,520 tons in 2015. In December 2015 the IPC warned there was “overwhelming evidence of a humanitarian emergency” in Koch County (as well as Mayendit, Guit and Leer counties). Host communities and IDPs were relying on severe coping strategies, such as consuming water lilies, to survive. However, disaster appeared to have been averted by April 2016 as humanitarian access improved in early 2016. Conflict related insecurity was the main cause of food insecurity in Unity State.
**A collaborative effort by the Republic of South Sudan, UN agencies and development partners
Geography & logistics
Boaw, Gany, Jaak, Kuachlual, Norbor, Ngony, Pakur
The eastern half belongs to the Nile Sobat Rivers livelihood zone and western half falls under the Western Flood Plains zone. Koch County has flat plains with a mix of savannah grassland, bushes and forest. The eastern areas of the County have permanent swamps and grasslands which flood in the rainy season, though flooding is also common in the Western Flood Plains zone. The soil in the County’s western areas is black clay and in the eastern areas are black cotton soils. Both types of soil are suitable for cultivating a variety of crops but flooding often becomes an impediment to agricultural activities. The White Nile defines the County’s border with Jonglei’s Fangak County at its east. The county’s eastern edge (along the Nile) and southwestern corner (Ngony payam) turns into swamps during the rainy season.
Koch’s primary transport link is a primary road running through Kuach town and eventually connecting the County to Bentiu (the state capital) to its north and Rupkaui, Mayendit County at its south. The road is passable for all vehicles in all seasons, except for a short segment near Mir Mir town which is only accessible in the dry season.
All season fixed-wing airstrips
There is an airfield in Boaw, with disused airfields at Koch, Again and Biir. There is also a helicopter landing site at Koch town.
Information last updated: 26/08/16
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