Ayod County, Jonglei
2016 population projection: 186,670
Major population centers: Ayod
Major ethnic group: Gawaar Nuer
Likely large scale continued displacement from Ayod town. Ayod County has received displaced persons from neighboring counties, Unity State, and from within Ayod County. Ayod town has seen repeated violence and displacement since 2014. After the SPLA retook the town in late April 2014, local authorities reported some 33,000 IDPs were displaced (IRNA, Jun 2014). As fighting concentrated in northern Jonglei State – in Atar, Pigi/Canal County and New Fangak – in late 2014 and early 2015, approximately 20,000 people were displaced, many multiple times, into Ayod (IRNA, Jan 2015). From November 2015 through February 2016, OCHA also reported new displacement from Unity State into Ayod County. In March 2016, government officials reported that 300,000 people had returned to Ayod town and were in dire need of aid. Opposition officials however, are reported to have dismissed the claims, saying that civilians had vacated the area. More than 513,000 persons are displaced throughout Jonglei State, as of March 2016 (OCHA). The internal distribution of displaced persons within Jonglei has changed significantly since July 2015, with increasing populations of IDPs reported in Uror, Ayod and Fangak counties, and declining numbers in Nyirol, Canal/Pigi, Bor South and Pibor counties (FAO 2016).
Economy & livelihoods
Ayod County is part of the “Nile Sobat Rivers” and “Eastern Flood Plains” livelihood zones (ACTED 2013). The main activities in these livelihood zones include rearing livestock, supplemented by agriculture and fishing. The 10 percent of households in the county who are farmers primarily grow sorghum, maize, groundnut and cowpeas. The River Nile flows along the county’s western border and is a major transport and natural asset. Livestock normally move towards the River Nile from February to April and return to homesteads from May to June. Under normal conditions floods are a main livelihood hazard as they can limit fishing activities and reduce crop, livestock, and wild foods production. Additionally, cattle raids, livestock diseases, crop pests and drought are major factors affecting livelihoods.
The conflict caused significant displacement into and within Ayod County, which placed stress on already scarce resources. The FAO also reported abnormal cattle migration patterns, circling within Ayod County in 2014. Insecurity disrupted livestock movement throughout the country, frequently forcing herds to concentrate in increasingly small areas. The intensive and continuous movements and intermingling with local herds and wildlife squeezed natural resource availability and altered disease patterns. Agricultural output in Ayod County was already reduced due to floods in 2013 and 2014 (IRNA 2015). The insecurity and conflict only further reduced access, especially in remote areas, to traditional sources of supplies and services. Minimal or no market activities have been reported for long periods in Ayod, Fangak, and Canal counties in Jonglei Sate (FAO 2016).
IPC projection for Jan-Mar 2016
The IPC projects “crisis” levels of food insecurity for Ayod County for January through March 2016, reporting that the situation would likely be one phase worse absent humanitarian aid in the county. It reported “emergency” levels of food insecurity for the county as recently as May to July of 2015. In December 2014, the IPC also reported “emergency levels,” further specifying that the county was receiving limited humanitarian access, suffering insecurity, and had no functioning markets or food stocks.
Dominant Control during conflict: SPLA/M controls Ayod town; SPLA/M IO controls the countryside
After retaking Bor in late January 2014, the SPLA and UPDF pushed north towards Ayod, the Gawaar Nuer and Greater Fangak opposition stronghold. The government seized control of Ayod town by late April 2014, but the opposition has retained control of the countryside. The SPLA struggled early to maintain its forward deployments. In Duk and Ayod counties, between 1,000 and 1,500 SPLA soldiers reportedly abandoned their posts because their salaries had not been paid, as well as a reflection of widespread lack of motivation to fight for Kiir’s presidency (UN report, July 2014). Ayod was again the site of intense fighting in September 2014 and March 2015 as the SPLA IO attempted to regain control of Ayod town. Both campaigns reportedly resulted in heavy opposition casualties.
Relations between the SPLA and SPLA IO in the county remain conflictual. In March 2016, the two publically disagreed about the presence of a large and food insecure civilian population in Ayod town. The disputed claims have implications regarding the provision of humanitarian aid to the area. In June, government authorities reported that at least one civilian had been killed and an unconfirmed number taken hostage in an attack on Ayod town by forces loyal to the SPLA IO. President Kiir’s 28 state decree has reportedly been another source of conflict in the area.
Geography & logistics
Ayod, Kurwai, Kuach deng, Mogok, Pagil, Pajiek, Wau
Ayod County borders Unity State to the west, Fangak and Khorflus (Canal) Counties to the north, Hyirol and Uror Counties to the east, and Duk to the south. Several rivers flow through Ayod County, including Nile, Gurr, Juwol, and Atar. The area around the Nile is characterized by swampy vegetation of papyrus, reeds, Napier grass and bush scrub. Area further east is characterized by low, flood plains and bush.
Main roads connect Ayod to Malakal, Bor, Waat and Akobo.
All season fixed-wing airstrips
Information last updated: 26/08/16
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