Fangak County (POM), Jonglei

General information

2016 population projection: 146,799

Major population centers: New Fangak and Old Fangak towns

Major ethnic group: Gawaar Nuer and Padang Dinka. (The former is the majority group according to NRC 2015 and SAS 2014. And the latter, according to ICG 2014.)

Displacement risk:

Large numbers of displaced from neighboring areas, and periodic internal conflict and flooding related displacement within Fangak County.

In northern parts of the county, IDPs fled from violence along the Nile and especially from fighting in Malakal town and Canal/Pigi County. Following attacks from across the river in late 2014, host and IDP populations were further displaced deeper into the Fangak County. Southern parts of the county (near Old Fangak town) received populations fleeing violence in Ayod County and Unity State. Additionally, flooding in 2015 caused displacement as communities sought higher ground (Solidarities 2015). IDP communities are mixed, including Nuer, Shilluk, Mabanese, Equatorians, and Anyuak; and the refugee population includes both Nubans and Darfuris (IRNA). More than 513,000 persons remain 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).

*National Bureau of Statistics, Population projections for South Sudan by County

* about this map

Economy & livelihoods

Bordered on the west and north by the White Nile River, Fangak County is part of the both the “Nile and Sobat Rivers” Livelihood Zone (LZ) and “Eastern Floodplains LZ” (ACTED Sep 2013).  In all cases, communities are agro pastoralists.  The primary livelihood is agriculture, supplemented by rearing livestock, fishing and gathering.  The main crops are sorghum and maize, as well as pumpkin, cowpeas, sesame and vegetables.  Better off households keep cattle, goats and sheep.  Fishing is seasonal, taking place primarily in the swamps towards the end of the rainy season and into the dry season.  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 crops, livestock, and wild foods production.  Additionally, cattle raids, livestock diseases, crop pests and drought are major factors affecting livelihoods.
The conflict beginning in December 2013 caused significant displacement into and within Fangak County, which placed stress on already scarce resources.  The FAO also reported outbreaks of livestock disease in the county, and intense and abnormal cattle movements in neighboring Ayod County throughout 2014 (FAO).  Flooding throughout Fangak County in 2015 further displaced populations, destroyed food crops, and killed cattle in the area (Solidarities Mar 2015).  Minimal or no market activities had been reported for long periods in Ayod, Fangak, and Canal counties in Jonglei Sate in 2016 (FAO ).

IPC projection for Jan-Mar 2016

The IPC reports “crisis” levels of food insecurity for Fangak County for January to March 2016. IPC also project “crisis” levels for the country for August to December 2015, but specified that Fangak’s food insecurity would likely be at least one phase worse absent humanitarian assistance. For the first half of 2015, IPC projected “emergency” levels of food insecurity in Fangak, explaining that recent assessments showed that communities have no food stocks from the last harvest, no functional markets, and active conflict in the area limited both normal livelihood functions and humanitarian access.

Historical context

Dominant Control during conflict:  Disputed.  SPLA in the North along the Nile River and SPLA IO in central and southern parts of the county.

Fangak County was caught in between intense fighting in nearby town centers in Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei States.  It received IDP populations from all three and suffered periodic incursions from SPLA forces from Malakal in the north and Ayod County to the south.  Immediately following the outbreak of conflict beginning December 2013, Fangak County was considered one of the safest locations in the Upper Nile region (IRNA May 2014).  The many rivers flowing across the county serve as natural barriers inhibiting vehicular movement, and create a number of islands that were thought to be relatively secure.  An estimated 46,000 IDPs from the Greater Upper Nile region fled to New Fangak Payam within the county between January and March 2014 alone (IRNA 2014).

In April 2014, shelling from Panyikang County across the river, further displaced people further south into Fangak County.  In November 2014, Johnson Olony’s (then) SPLA forces, attacked again from the north, burning much of New Fangak and the surrounding area.  In late 2014 and early 2015, fighting between the SPLA and SPLA IO in Jonglei State concentrated in the northern counties of Fangak and especially Canal/Pigi County.  By August 2015, relative calm returned to Fangak County, as SPLA troops withdrew to Malakal and the frontlines shifted north once more.

About the map *

This map follows the administrative county boundaries 2005-2015. Our aim is to identify key geographic, demographic and historical features of the area, rather than political/administrative issues. In doing so, SSHP expresses no view on the development of the 28 state policy

Geography & logistics


Manajang, Mareang, Old Fangak, Paguir, Phom

Geographical features

Fangak County is largely covered by swamps and marshland.  The White Nile flows along its western board before curving east to form its northern border.  In addition, the River Phow flows across the eastern region of the county.  Areas immediately around these rivers is characterized by swampy vegetation of papyrus, reeds, Napier grass and bush scrub.  The area further southeast is characterized by low, flood plains and bush.

Main roads

A secondary road runs north from Motot town into and through Fangak County, before curving east to follow the White Nile River, on the southern bank.  It connects New Fangak town to Atar.  Another secondary road extends from this road, southeast through Old Fangak town and on to Yuai.

All season fixed-wing airstrips

Old Fangak town.


Information last updated: 26/08/16

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