Ibba County, Western Equatoria

General information

2016 population projection: 53,134

Major population centers: Ibba County does not have any major population centers, though Ibba town and Manikakara both lie on the main road connecting Yambio town to Juba.

Major ethnic group: The predominant ethnic group in Ibba County is the Zande/Azande. The area is sometimes referred as part of Zandeland, along with Yambio, Ezo, Nzara and Tombura counties in South Sudan. Minority groups in Ibba County include the Baka and Mundu and minority languages include Belanda Viri and Boguru.

Displacement risk:

Medium risk of displacement.  Ibba County lies between counties that saw major fighting throughout 2015.  2,483 people fled to Ibba County following fighting in neighboring Maridi town in July 2015 (IRNA).  In September 2015, conflict then escalated significantly in Yambio County, to Ibba’s west.  While exact numbers are unclear, OCHA reported that Ibba housed a significant number of IPDs in September and October 2015.  Population figures are difficult to estimate given the fluidity of the situation and challenges in distinguishing between host communities, the displaced, and those newly integrated.  As of March 2016, more than 93,000 persons remain displaced in Western Equatoria State.

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

* about this map

Economy & livelihoods

As a part of the country’s “green belt”, 90 percent of households in Ibba County are farmers (FAO 2016).  The main crops grown are maize, peas, groundnuts, sweet potatoes, and cassava.  There are two harvesting season every year, April to July and August to November.

A major road, running through the county, connects the state capital, Yambio, to the national capital, Juba.  However, the heavy fighting throughout the Western Equatoria State in 2015 has disrupted trade flows along the Juba-Yambio and reduced functioning of Yambio market.  Grain prices, already on the rise since February 2015, doubled between April and June 2015.  In July 2015, the WFP reported food security trends for Ibba County as “severely deteriorated.”  Price shocks in the area transmit to other parts of the country. 

IPC projection for Jan-Mar 2016

The IPC projects “minimal” insecurity for Ibba County. The only period during which IPC’s designation of food insecurity for Mundri West County increased to “stressed” was from August to September 2015.

Historical context

Dominant Control during conflict:  SPLA/M originally.  

Conflict in the Equatorias has followed a trajectory distinct from that in the Greater Upper Nile region. The Equatorian States saw comparatively little fighting initially after civil war broke out in 2013 and only limited displacement from other conflict-ridden States.  By early 2015, however, an unusually large influx of Dinka cattle herders from conflict-ridden states exacerbated long-standing tensions between local farmers and migrating pastoralists in nearby Maridi and Mundri Counties.  As inter-communal fighting escalated, perceptions that the SPLA favored the Dinka cattle herders only increased and spread the conflict.   The August 2015 peace deal did little to address the specific conflict dynamics in Western Equatoria State.  Many felt it insufficiently addressed the grievances of smaller ethnic groups and overall it only contributed to perceptions that the government is “Dinka dominated.”  

Ibba County received an influx of IDPs from the east in July 2015 after violence in Maridi town erupted.  As the violence in eastern Western Equatoria spread across the state, it intermixed with new local tensions, defense groups, and other armed actors in complicated ways.  In September 2015, fighting broke out to Ibba’s west when a local self-defense group called the Arrow Boys attacked Yambio town.  The attack was the first assault on a major Equatorian city since the initial conflict moved out of Juba in early 2014.   The SPLA responded aggressively as local conflict turned into full-scale rebellions throughout Western Equatoria and “Zandeland” (Yambio, Iboo, Ezo, Nzara and Tombura counties).

Throughout the Equatorias, “Arrow Boys” are loosely coordinated groups of primarily young men organized to protect their communities.  The moniker references a popular local civil defense force that previously played a pivotal role in containing the Lord’s Resistance Army.  From 2006 to 2009, Yambio, Maridi and Ibba Counties were seriously affected by LRA violence.  The LRA threat declined significantly after South Sudan’s independence, following a number of local, regional and international-level efforts.  Nevertheless, the Arrow Boys remained active and often involved in local justice matters. 

The new “Maridi State” proposed by Salva Kiir in December 2015 (one of three created out of Western Equatoria) combines Maridi County with Ibba County to its west.  The two counties have been involved in a border dispute over their legal demarcation since 2005, with security and infrastructure implications.  Both communities, however, appear pleased with the new union.  In March 2016, elders reached an agreement over where to build the shared headquarters for the proposed Maridi State, though they emphasized that this does not in and of itself resolve the border dispute.

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


 Ibba Centre, Madebe, Manikakara, Maruko, Nabanga

Geographical features

Ibba County borders DRC to the south, Lakes States to the north, Maridi County to the east and Yambio County to the west.   The River Sue flows along the southern portion of Ibba County’s border with Yambia.   The River Ibba bisects the county, flowing north from DRC and along Ibba town.  The river Lesi joins the River Ibba to become the River Tonj, which flows into northern Yambio County.  Finally, River Mandi flows along the northern portion of the county’s border with Maridi County.

Main roads

Two roads run through Ibba County.  Ibba town and Manikara sit along a main road that connects Yambia to Juba (via Maridi and Mundi).  The logistic cluster issued a consistent warning for the Yambio-Wau from May 2015 to February 2016.  The route was designated as “passable with difficulties” and “many critical spots” in late 2015.  A secondary road connects Manganga in northern Ibba County south to DRC.

All season fixed-wing airstrips

None.  The only fixed wing airstrip is in Western Equatoria is in Nzara.


Information last updated: 26/08/16

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