Nyirol County, Jonglei
2016 population projection: 144,986
Major population centers: Waat a large town in southern Nyirol. Lankien is a town on the road north to Malakal.
Major ethnic group: Lou Nuer
Nyirol has received significant numbers of displaced persons over the length of the conflict. The county borders Upper Nile State, just south of some of the most violent areas in Malakal and Nasir Counties. Northern parts of Nyirol received IDPs from three different groups – Nuer, Dinka, and Shilluk – and relations between the host and displaced communities have been strained at times. Waat, in the south, is located along a route that experienced intense fighting in the west towards Akobo County and the Ethiopian refugee camps further east, and has also hosted a diverse IDP community.
More than 513,000 persons are displaced in Jonglei (OCHA, March 2016), though the distribution throughout the state has changed significantly since July 2015. Displaced populations increased in Uror, Ayod and Fangak counties, and declined in Nyirol, Canal, Bor South and Pibor Counties (FAO, Feb 2016).
Economy & livelihoods
Agriculture and livestock rearing are both important sources of livelihood in Nyirol County. ACTED classifies the county as part of the “Eastern Flood Plains” Livelihood Zone (LZ) that stretches across Upper Nile and Jonglei States. FEWS NET further specifies it as part of an “Eastern Plains Sorghum and Cattle” LZ, within the vast eastern flood plains. 40 percent of households in Nyirol County are farmers and the main crops grown are sorghum, millet, groundnut, sesame, pumpkins and vegetables. Lou Nuer cattle herders typically travel northwest towards Canal (Pigi) County during the dry season. People throughout the area also rear goats, sheep and chickens, and supplement their livelihoods with fishing and foraging. The main hazards to livelihoods in the area include intercommunal conflicts and cattle raiding, flooding, livestock diseases, crop pests, and drought.
Conflict throughout the Greater Upper Nile imperiled livelihoods across the region and in Nyirol County specifically. Many markets have been destroyed or their functions severely undermined as a result of broken supply lines (Oxfam 2016). Sizable populations of displaced persons have stressed already scarce resources, especially as farming was difficult and dangerous given the insecurity. In December 2014, the FAO reported abnormal cattle migration routes out of the County and outbreaks of livestock diseases in nearby counties. Several normal migrations routes had resumed by August 2015 in Nyirol Ayod, Duk and parts of Uror County, although some abnormal routes also continue (FAO).
IPC projection for Jan-Mar 2016
The IPC projected “crisis” levels of food insecurity for Nyirol County for January through March 2016. For most of the conflict, IPC projected alternating “stressed” and “crisis” levels of food insecurity for the county, at times indicating that the area would likely be at least one phase more insecure without humanitarian assistance. From May to August 2014, the IPC reported “emergency” levels of food insecurity. In December 2014, the IPC reported that markets were not functional in the county and significant humanitarian food aid was being provided for more than 20 percent of the county’s population, who had no harvests of their own.
Dominant Control during conflict: SPLA/M IO and the white army
Nyirol County was not among the frontlines of the larger conflict in the Greater Upper Nile; however, it is located near some of the most violent areas across the Sobat River and in western and northern Jonglei State. Waat within Nyirol is also considered to be an area of Nuer heartland, and thus a place of symbolic if not strategic importance. While the county had been largely under SPLA IO control for the length of the conflict, in many areas community defense forces, or white armies, reportedly had greater control (Small Arms Survey, 2014). It is frequently difficult to differentiate between SPLA IO fighters and the white army. The white army is an informal network of armed community defense groups in Nuer lands that are mobilized in times of crisis. The term itself precedes the current conflict. Mobilization of the white army is fluid, but reports estimate its size reached the multiple tens of thousands (SAS 2014).
Beyond national level dynamics, violence related to cattle raiding and inter clan violence remains a significant issue in the Nyirol County. In November 2013, an attack on Akobo and Nyirol counties by armed Murle men from Pibor resulted in the loss of over 7,000 heads of cattle.
Geography & logistics
Chuil, Nyambor, Pading, Pulturuk, Thol, Waat
Nyirol county borders Upper Nile State to the north and east. Within Jonglei State, it borders Canal, Ayod, Uror and Akobo Counties. The River Fulus flows across Nyirol county in the west. Additionally the River Sobat flows along the county’s northeastern borders with Upper Nile State, and the River Nyanding along parts of its southeastern border.
Roads travel north, southeast, and southwest from Waat.
All season fixed-wing airstrips
Information last updated: 26/08/16
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