Maridi County, Western Equatoria

General information

2016 population projection: 103,923

Major population centers: Maridi town (est. 18,000 in 2011) is located near the border with DRC, approximately 295 km by road west of Juba. Significant fighting in the town throughout 2015 has seen Maridi periodically deserted as civilian populations flee.

Major ethnic group: Equatorian. Main tribes include Baka, Baka/Mundu, Avukaya, Azande (Arabic), Moro (Moro Kodo), Mundu. Main languages include Avukaya, Arabic, Baka, Mundu, Jur Beli, Moro, Moro Andri, Moro Kodo, and Moro Wira

Displacement risk:

High during fighting throughout 2015, decreasingly so in recent months in Maridi County specifically.  93,276 people remain displaced in Western Equatoria overall and another 17,000 Western Equatorians have crossed into the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  The displacement causing conflict between Dinka cattle herders, the SPLA, and locals escalated in May 2015.  To the east of Maridi County, neighboring Mundri West County remains a displacement hotspot and there is some displacement to the west along the Maridi Ibbo border.

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

* about this map

Economy & livelihoods

The main livelihood activities in Maridi are farming (44 percent), cattle herding (36 percent), and fishing (13 percent) (IOM 2013).  Farmers in the area can reap two or three harvests per annum from the same plots, with the main crops being maize, sorghum, cassava, groundnuts, sesame, millet, vegetables, and rice.  Until 2014, the major challenges affecting livelihoods in Maridi County were floods, droughts, diseases, and market access.  Generally high agricultural production and access to foodstuffs from neighboring Uganda historically meant that Western Equatoria State benefitted from some of the lowest food commodity prices in the country.

However, decreasing security across the State – especially since May 2015 – has reduced crop production, disrupted markets, displaced populations, sharply increased marked prices, and generally imperiled local livelihoods.  Displaced by insecurity in Lakes and Jonglei States, ethnic Dinka cattle herders from the north moved large numbers of cattle into Western Equatoria, sparking violence with local farmers.  Fighting in Maridi County disrupted trade flows from Juba to Yambio such that the prices of sorghum and maize more than double from February to April of that year.  Fighting throughout 2015 in neighboring Mundri County severely disrupted movement along the Mundri Rumbek main road, with significant impacts on the movement of supplies and goods to northern parts of the country.

IPC projection for Jan-Mar 2016

The IPC projects “minimal” insecurity for Maridi County in February 2016, though neighboring Mvolo and nearby Murdi East counties are projected to be “stressed.”

Historical context

Dominant Control during conflict: SPLA/M originally; control (and security) deteriorating as local militias and community defense forces challenged SPLA/M, including “arrow boys,” South Sudan National Liberation Movement, and the Revolutionary Movement for National Salvation (REMNASA).

Early in the 2013 2015 conflict, Western Equatoria was one of four States that saw little fighting and only limited displacement from other States.  By late summer 2014, however, an unusually large influx of Dinka pastoralists from the conflict ridden Lakes and Jonglei States increased tension with host communities.  Heavily armed and closely connected to the SPLA, the Dinka cattle herders clashed with local population and armed youth, spurring mobilization of community defense forces.  In June 2015, fighting in Maridi town resulted in the death of more than a dozen, the destruction of 196 houses, and the displacement of nearly 30,000 people.  Most fled to the outskirts of Maridi town or to Ibba County.  The arrival of SPLA commandos did little to quell the conflicts, with fresh incidents in September 2015. 

The violence is also connected to a more general dissatisfaction with the August 2015 peace deal, which some felt insufficiently addressed the grievances of smaller ethnic groups.  Local demands include land, resource allocation, and fair representation at the top levels of the “Dinka dominated” government and army.  The proliferation of local armed groups – including, the South Sudan National Liberation Movement and South Sudan People’s Patriotic Front – are colloquially and collectively referred to as “Arrow Boys.”  The moniker references a popular local civil defense force that previously played a pivotal role in containing the Lord’s Resistance Army.  Since February 2016, appeals by Maridi authorities for youth to lay down arms and reintegrate have seen mixed success.

Launched in January 2015, REMNASA was the best organized independent Equatorian group.  Originally active in Maridi county and drawing on local resentment over Dinka cattle keepers, the group eventually suffered from frequent SPLA attacks and loss of local legitimacy.  Most of the remaining fighters have moved into Central Equatoria and, in November 2015, the group joined SPLA IO. 

The new Maridi State (one of three created out of Western Equatoria) combines Maridi County with Ibbo 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


Kozi, Landili, Mambe, Maridi, Ngamunde

Geographical features

Maridi county includes three rivers that flow south north.  River Maridi flows along the western part of the county, denoting the northern portion of the border with Ibbo County. 

River Rohl flows from Yei north, to mark the northern portion of the border with Mundri West.  River Wonkha (Mboloko) flows through the center of the county into Mvolo County to the north.

Main roads

Maridi county includes three rivers that flow south north.  River Maridi flows along the western part of the county, denoting the northern portion of the border with Ibbo County.

River Rohl flows from Yei north, to mark the northern portion of the border with Mundri West.  River Wonkha (Mboloko) flows through the center of the county into Mvolo County to the north.

All season fixed-wing airstrips

East West road, from Yambia through Maridi.  The road forks at Faraksika, traveling northeast to Mundri or southeast toward Yei.  In May 2016, the logistic cluster noted an access constraints warning for the length of the road from Yambia, past Faraksika, towards Mundri.

Secondary road travels north south throughout the length of the county, from Mvolo County, through Maridi, into Central Equatoria.


Information last updated: 26/08/16

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