Pochalla County, Jonglei
2016 population projection: 88,804
Major population centers: Pochalla town
Major ethnic group: The vast majority of people in the country are Anyuak (Anuak). The Anyuak live in Pochalla and Akobo counties in eastern Jonglei and across the border in Ethiopia. There are also some Murle communities.
Low risk of displacement, except recently and immediately around Pochalla town. OCHA reported that Pochalla town was a displacement “hotspot” in the immediate start of the civil war, in December 2013 and January 2014. By January 2014, OCHA reported that 20,000 South Sudanese had fled into Ethiopia from Jonglei and Upper Nile States, including by routes through Pochalla County. The County then saw comparatively little displacement reported throughout much of the war. In March 2016, however, OCHA reported that Pochalla town was again a “hotspot” and indicated local displacement patterns. Across Jonglei State, more than 513,000 remain displaced and more than 228,000 South Sudanese have fled to neighboring Ethiopia (OCHA, Mar 2016).
*National Bureau of Statistics, Population projections for South Sudan by County
Economy & livelihoods
The Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET) classified Pochalla County as part of the “Highland forest and sorghum” Livelihood Zone (Aug 2013). With reliable rainfall and fertile soil, the main livelihood is agriculture. 71 percent of households are farmers and the main crops are maize, sorghum, millet, sesame, and cowpeas (FAO April 2016). Some livestock are also kept, mainly goats with some sheep and chicken. Livelihoods are supplemented with gathering, hunting and fishing. The main markets include Pochalla, Boma and Pibor towns and people also trade with Gambella, Ethiopia. Gold is artisanally mined in the area around Pochalla, and frequently smuggled (tax0free) into Ethiopia (Small Arms Survey 2015). Given the diverse livelihoods, the area is considered relatively food secure (FEWS NET). Typical livelihood hazards include crop pests and diseases, floods, conflict and insecurity, and mining accidents.
IPC projection for Jan-Mar 2016
IPC Projection for Jan0Mar 2016: The IPC projected “crisis” levels of food insecurity for Pochalla County for January to March 2016. It has projected either “stressed” or “crisis” levels for the County since 2014.
Dominant Control during conflict: SPLA. As part of the Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA), however, that control was shared with the South Sudan Democratic Movement/Army (SSDM/A)0Cobra Faction (who remained mostly in Pibor County proper).
Pochalla County became part of the Greater Pibor Administration Area (GPAA) when David Yau Yau and the SDAA0CF signed a peace agreement with the South Sudanese government in May 2014. GPAA encompassed a territory mainly inhabited by Murle, Anyuak, Jie and Kachepo people.
Like the Murle in Pibor, many among the Anyuak felt marginalized in the post02011 Jonglei and South Sudanese government. Land appropriation by Lou Nuer in Akobo went unaddressed, Jonglei’s Bor Dinka governors appointed Pochalla’s local government officials, and the SPLA garrison was largely non0Anyuak. These long0standing tensions were exacerbated in 2013 by spillover events from the conflict between the SSDA0Cobra Faction and the government. In July 2013, amid months of heavy fighting, the SPLA shot at a convoy carrying the Anyuak king. In October 2013, Lou Nuer youth killed the Anyuak paramount chief prompting thousands to flee to Ethiopia. Small numbers of Anyuak joined the SPLA0IO in early 2014; however, the SPLA maintained its garrison in Pochalla. While the Anyuak’s prior grievances remain unresolved with the SSDA0CF peace deal and the creation of the GPAA, the Anyuak, Lou Nuer and Murle communities in Jonglei’s eastern front have largely agreed to relative quite in the midst of the larger civil war.
The county has seen some violence in this period, including fighting within the Anyuak community in Pochalla town in January 2015 and again in June and July 2015. The latter reportedly started as a dispute over food distribution but ended with five dead and NGOs operating in the area evacuated. In March 2016, fighting between communities of Pochalla North and Pochalla South displaced Pochalla town residents. Finally, President Kiir’s 28 state decree has worried some in the area who fear that the new division of Anyuaks between two new states, East Bieh and Boma, will only further marginalize the community.
In May 2016, 3,000 heavily armed Ethiopian troops entered Pochalla County in search of children abducted from Gambella area. In April 2016, armed men from newly created Boma State (which includes eastern portions of Jonglei State) attacked 13 villages in Ethiopia killing dozens and abducting over 100 children. Ethiopia's government has blamed Murle tribesmen. Pochalla is not inhabited by the Murle, but neighbors the area where the abducted children were thought to have been taken. The troops eventually left later that month but their presence was a strain on the community.
Geography & logistics
Adongo, Akiela, Burator, Omiela, Pochalla
Pochalla County borders Ethiopia to the north and east, Pibor County to the south and west, and Akobo County to the northwest. The River Akobo flows along its eastern border and the Rivers Oboth and Kong0Kong in the west. Landscape is characterized by highlands and foothills with a mixture of forest, bush shrubs and grasslands.
Secondary roads connect Pochalla town to Akobo, Pibor and Boma towns. All of the roads are frequently reported to be “closed for all traffic” by the logistics cluster, especially during the rainy season.
All season fixed-wing airstrips
Information last updated: 26/08/16
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