Pibor County, Jonglei
2016 population projection: 197,544
Major population centers: Pibor town, Boma
Major ethnic group: The largest ethnic group in Pibor is the Murle. Other communities in the County include the Jie, Kachipo (Kachepo), Anyuak, Dinka, and Nuer, and Kachepo.
Medium risk of displacement in Pibor town. Pibor County’s conflict displacement patterns are distinct from much of Jonglei State and the rest of the country. The county saw significant displacement in 2012 and 2013 as a result of fighting between the SPLA and the Cobra Faction. With the onset of the recent civil war, OCHA reported that Gamuruk, Pibor town, and Likuangole were all displacement “hotspots” from December 2013 to February 2014. Beginning in March 2014, however, OCHA stopped reporting the presence of displaced persons in Pibor County. That said, displacement numbers remained high in neighboring counties, especially Bor South. Then, in February and March 2016, Pibor town was again reported to be a displacement “hotspot,” following fighting in the area. More than 513,000 persons are still displaced statewide in Jonglei.
*National Bureau of Statistics, Population projections for South Sudan by County
Economy & livelihoods
Pastoralism and agriculture are the main sources of livelihoods for communities in Pibor County, which includes two distinct types of landscapes. In the “lowlands” of Lotilla plain, communities primarily engage in transhumant pastoralism. In addition to cattle, they rear goats, sheep and chicken. Livelihoods are supplement by agriculture, including growing sorghum, maize and pumpkin. On the Boma plateau, communities are primarily farmers, growing sorghum, maize, sweet potatoes, okra and groundnuts. In addition, communities throughout Pibor fish from water pools during the rainy season and collect wild fruits during the lean months. The climate regularly affects both livelihood activities in Pibor County, given frequent floods and droughts. Foods and other goods can be bought in local markets, but overall trading activities are limited in the County, due to challenging road access and scarce resources. During the rainy season, few goods reach the County due to the poor road networks. The County boasts a number of gold and other mines around Boma and potential oil reserves. Reaping the economic potential of mineral, livestock, and wildlife resources in Pibor, however, continues to face significant political, military, economic, legal and logistical obstacles.
In recent years Jonglei has had some of the largest herd populations of any state in country (ADB Group 2013). Seasonal cattle movements throughout the County are a central source of strife and insecurity, as pastoralists compete for water and pastures. During the dry season (January to March/April), Merle cattle herders move to riverine areas and water points along the border with Pochalla, to Dinka Bor Areas close to Bor South County, and to Lou Neur areas in Akobo County. Cycles of cattle raiding and revenge attacks between communities have long been a facet of life throughout Jonglei State. In recent years, however, such activities have become entangled in broader armed inter0communal and anti0government conflicts and in new networks of criminality and are exacerbated by the proliferation of small arms throughout the country and the breakdown of traditional conflict mediation structures. Additionally, climate pressures have seen the shrinking of rivers in recent decades, forcing Murle cattle herders further eastward and northwards. In August 2015, the FAO reported than many traditional cattle movements had taken place in Pibor County; however, abnormal movements in neighboring Bor South, Uror, and Akobo Counties continue.
IPC projection for Jan-Mar 2016
The IPC projected “crisis” levels of food insecurity for Pibor Country for the period of January to March 2016. This is one level higher than the “stressed” levels reported for much of 2015.
Dominant Control during conflict: Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA), South Sudan Democratic Movement/Army (SSDM/A)0Cobra Faction.
Conflict in Pibor County has followed a distinct trajectory from that in much of the country, and even from the rest of Jonglei State. Prior to the December 2013 conflict, the government had already been fighting an ongoing rebellion in Pibor County. David Yau Yau defected (again) from South Sudan’s government in 2012 and led a Murle0dominated militia in eastern parts of Jonglei State. The particular motivations of Yau Yau aside, the rebellion reflected long0standing feelings of Murle marginalization at the hands of the state government in Bor, which many perceived as hostile and Bor Dinka0dominated. Mobilization was also a response to a particularly violent SPLA disarmament campaign in the County. Fighting between the SPLA and the Cobra Faction throughout 2012 and 2013 displaced thousands.
When fighting in the rest of the country broke out in December 2013, however, the government and the Cobra Faction were already beginning ceasefire negotiations. On 30 January 2014 the two parties agreed on to ceasefire and on 9 May 2014 the parties signed a peace agreement. Engaged in intense fighting against the SPLA0IO around Bor, the government sought to avoid fighting on two fronts in Jonglei. Somewhat ironically, Pibor County, which had seen near continual violence and displacement during the national “peacetime” period (post02005), has largely avoided becoming part of the battleground when the rest of the country returned to civil war. Pibor communities and seasonal migration patterns have slowly returned in recent years
As part of the peace agreement, Yau Yau became the Chief Administrator of a new Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA). The area comprises the boundaries of former Pibor and Pochalla counties of Jonglei, along the Ethiopian border, in a territory mainly inhabited by Anyuak, Jie, Kachepo, and Murle people. Under Kiir’s October 2015 28 state decree, the region’s autonomy from Jonglei state was formalized and a new Boma State created out of the GPAA. In early 2016, Kiir appointed Baba Medan as the governor of Boma State. Supporters of Yau Yau have expressed dissatisfaction with the appointment, but Yau Yau himself has said that he accepts the decision. In February 2016, significant fighting in Pibor town displaced thousands. Some report that it was armed supporters of Medan who attacked the Cobra Faction stronghold. Medan himself denies that his militia was involved and instead blames SSDM0Cobra Faction.
Geography & logistics
Boma, Gurumukhi, Kiziongora, Lekuangole, Marrow, Mewun, Pibor, Verteth.
Pibor borders Ethiopia to the west, Eastern Equatoria State to the south, Bor South County to the west, and Uror, Akobo and Pochalla Couties to the north. The county includes two different landscapes, the Boma plateau and the Lotilla plain. Communities living on the Boma Plateau are mainly agriculturalists. Communities living on the plains are mainly transhumant pastoralists. Several rivers flow throughout the County it including the Rivers Pibor, Kengen, Lotilla, Nanaam, and Meino.Finally, Boma National Park in the County’s east (and extending into Ethiopia) hosts one of the greatest concentrations of wildlife on earth each migratory season.
A main road connects Pibor towns to Bor, through Gumuruk. Another major road connects Boma south to Kuron in Eastern Equatoria. Secondary roads also connect Pibor and Boma to Pochalla, to each other, and and Pibor to Akobo. The logistic cluster frequently reports that all of these routes are “closed for all traffic” (with no further explanation given), including from May to December 2014 and May 2015 to January 2016.
All season fixed-wing airstrips
Pibor and Boma
Information last updated: 26/08/16
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