Mundri East County, Western Equatoria
2016 population projection: 60,948
Major population centers: The largest villages in the county Lui (on border with Mundri West) and Jambo both lie on the major road connecting Mundri to Juba.
Major ethnic group: The County is primarily Moru, with some Mundu, Zand, Balanda, Baka, Jur Bhel, Avukaya and Nyanwara groups. The most common language is Moru.
igh risk of conflict related displacement. Initially, Western Equatoria State saw comparatively little displacement after the civil war began in Juba in December 2013. Beginning in May 2015, however, tensions escalated between local populations, new Dinka cattle keepers, armed groups, and the SPLA. Fighting in Mundri town in neighboring Mundri West County displaced the town’s entire population multiple times throughout 2015. Several more incidents in surrounding areas in November 2015 and SPLA attacks on Lozoh, Bari, Gariya, Ladingwa and Bangolo (all in Mundri East County) in February 2016 caused further re displacement. The IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) estimates that the fighting has displaced 20,000 individuals from Mundri East and 30,000 from neighboring Mundri West (April 2016). However, 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. While conflict appears to be declining overall in Western Equatoria State, more than 93,000 individuals remain displaced statewide.
*National Bureau of Statistics, Population projections for South Sudan by County
Economy & livelihoods
Sixty percent of households in Mundri East are farmers (FAO 2016). Crops grown include maize, beans, pumpkins, okra, tomatoes, groundnuts, and simsim. Known as the “Green Belt,” the Equatorias include some of the most fertile land in the country and farmers in the area can reap two or three harvests per annum from the same plots. During the dry season, the county sees seasonal migrations of cattle herders coming from the northwest.
In November 2015, Western Equatoria state as a whole experienced one of its worst crop harvests in recent history. Dry spells combined with dramatically decreasing security across the state reduced crop production, disrupted markets, displaced populations, sharply increased marked prices, and generally imperiled local livelihoods. In Mundri East, local markets in the most affected areas – including Lui and Jambo – completely stopped functioning in late 2015.
IPC projection for Jan-Mar 2016
The IPC projected “stressed” food insecurity for Mundri East County. This is down from the “crisis” levels seen in August and September of 2015. The IPC projections for Mundri East and Mvolo Counties are regularly one classification higher in terms food insecurity than other counties in Western Equatoria.
Dominant Control during conflict: SPLA/M originally. Control (and security) deteriorated throughout 2015, as local militias and community defense forces (sometimes supported by the SPLA IO) challenged SPLA/M authority.
Conflict in the Equatorias has followed a trajectory distinct from that in the Greater Upper Nile region. The Equatorias saw comparatively little fighting initially and only limited displacement from other conflict ridden States. By early 2015, however, an unusually large influx of (heavily armed) Dinka cattle herders from conflict ridden states exacerbated long standing tensions between local farmers and migrating pastoralists in Mundri West, Mundri East and Maridi 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 and the detention of several leaders, including the popular Governor Bakosoro, only further alienated many Equatorians from the central government. In addition, SPLM/A IO incitement and military support began to turn largely local uprisings into full scale rebellions throughout Western Equatoria State. Aggressive responses by the SPLA displaced thousands and exacerbated the violence.
Fighting in the Mundris specifically began in late May 2015 when two Dinka SPLA soldiers and the County’s Executive Director were killed by unknown gunmen in Mundri town in neighboring Mundri West. These events prompted an escalation in violence between SPLA soldiers and the local community. Several hundred civilians were killed and 50,000 displaced (many repeatedly) into over the next several months. The most affected areas in Mundri East include Lanyi, Buogyi, Jambo, Lozoh and Lakamadi. Intense fighting took place again in Lozoh in mid February 2016 when SPLA forces invaded the town center, resulting in the two deaths, burning crops, storage houses, and tukuls, and displacing the community. Lozoh and Lakmadi both house significant displaced populations (5,928 and 3,116 respectively, April 2016) and are under the control of armed groups in opposition to the government.
Armed actors in the area are a convoluted mix of local defense groups, criminal actors, SPLA IO affiliated groups, and the SPLA. “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. Growing perceptions of mistreatment by the “Dinka” government and SPLA have led many people with no prior history of anti SPLA activity to rebel. Additionally, Wesley Welebi’s “Mid West Equatoria” group is among the most active and effective forces in Mundri East and West counties. A former SPLA IO leader, Welebi maintained through mid 2015 that he was fighting not as a rebel but to protect his community from cattle keepers. His forces work closely (if mainly tactically) with local Moro “Arrow Boys.” The exact relationship between local armed groups and the SPLA IO is shifting and opaque, but has important implications on the many groups’ eligibility to join the cantonment process under the national Peace Agreement. Cantonment is the first step in a process of eventual integration into the government’s armed forces or reception of a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) package.
Geography & logistics
Kedi’ba, Lakamadi, Lozoh, Ming(a), Witto
The River Tapari bisects Mundri East, dividing it east and west.
One major road runs through both Lui and Jambo, connecting them to Mundri town and Juba. A secondary road connects Jambo south to Lainya (Central Equatoria State). The logistics cluster issued a warning for travelling the Mundri Juba road through Mundri East from November 2015 through January 2016. Mundri East’s roads are generally of poor condition, compared to Mundri West, with some bridges on the verge of collapse.
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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