Mvolo County, Western Equatoria

General information

2016 population projection: 60,948

Major population centers: The county’s largest town, Mvolo, lies on the River Rohl and along a main road from Rumbek to Mundri (and ultimately, Juba and Yambia).

Major ethnic group: The largest ethnic group in Mvolo County is the Moru. Two others in the county are the Jur Bel and Bongo. The main languages spoken in the county include Jur Modo, Mandari, Morokodo, Nyamusa-Molo, and Mo’da.

Displacement risk:

Medium risk of conflict and food insecurity related displacement.  Western Equatoria State as a whole saw comparatively little displacement initially, after civil war began in Juba in December 2013.  IOM reported 4,700 displaced persons in Western Equatoria State in early May 2015.   By August of the year, however, 93,280 people were displaced statewide following outbreaks of violence across Western Equatoria State, including Mundri East and Mundri West counties.  Since October 2015, OCHA has repeatedly designated Mundri West County, Mvolo’s southern neighbor, as a displacement “hotspot.”  While overall conflict in Western Equatoria State appears to be declining, displacement remains high with more than 93,000 refugees statewide.

* about this map

Economy & livelihoods

As a part of the country’s “Green Belt,” 70 percent of households in Mvolo are farmers (FAO 2015).   The main crops grown in the county are sorghum and maize, as well as smaller quantities of beans, pumpkins, okra, tomatoes, groundnuts and simsim.  Fishing is also an important source of nutrition in the area.  When rains are sufficient and well distributed, even poor households can consume fish during most months of the year.  Farmers in the area have a history of conflict with pastoral communities from bordering Lakes State, who migrate seasonally into the area and whose cattle can destroy crops. 

In 2015, people in Mvolo experienced significant food insecurity after the worst crop harvest in recent years (due to delayed rains and dry spells) was further exacerbated by conflict with pastoral communities and fighting throughout the state.  After conflict erupted in Juba and the Greater Upper Nile region, the number of cattle herders migrating into the area significantly increased.  As early as January 2014, local officials cited concern about the number of cattle (and guns) coming into the area.

IPC projection for Jan-Mar 2016

The IPC projected “stressed” food insecurity for Molovo 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.

Historical context

Dominant Control during conflict:  SPLA/M originally.  Control (and security) deteriorated throughout 2015, as local militias and community defense forces challenged SPLA/M, including “Arrow Boys” and the Revolutionary Movement for National Salvation (REMNASA).  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 moved into Central Equatoria and, in November 2015, the group joined SPLA-IO.  “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. 

Overall, conflict in the Equatorias has followed a trajectory distinct from that in the Greater Upper Nile region.    Western Equatoria saw little initial fighting; however, as early as January 2014, an unusually large influx of Dinka pastoralists and their cattle from the conflict-ridden Lakes and Jonglei States began to cross into Mvolo County.  Farmers in that area have a long history of conflict (and reconciliation) with neighboring pastoralist communities, who migrate seasonally into the area.  The number and level of armament of the new arrivals, however, concerned local authorities. 

Conflict between the Dinka cattle herders and the local population spurred mobilization of community defense forces.  The perceived alignment of the SPLA with the Dinka cattle herders further exacerbated the situation.   The situation deteriorated significantly in May 2015 when clashes between the communities in Mvolo and Mundri West led to the displacement of several thousand local inhabitants, who abandoned their farms.   Escalating violence throughout September and October displaced entire villages from Mundi East and West towards Maridi, Mvolo and Juba.   Local violence spiraled into full-scale rebellions in neighboring Mundri East, Mundri West, Ibba and Yambio.  Generally, heavy-handed government response to violence – including helicopter gunship attacks, extrajudicial killings, burning of homes, and looting – only served to underscored community concerns about excessive Dinka influence in the SPLA and government.

In February 2016, authorities in the State indicated that cattle herders who were asked to leave the state have indeed moved away from two counties, Mvolo and Mundri East.  Seven cattle camps remain, however, in Mundri West and Maridi.  While overall violence appears to be decreasing in the Equatorias, displacement remains high.

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


Kokor, Bagori, Lessi, Bahr El Grindi, Mvolo, Dari, Yeri

Geographical features

Three rivers flow through Mvolo County.  West to east these are River Wokha

Main roads

Mvolo is connected by a main road to Rumbek and Mundri and to Maridi by a secondary road.  The logistics clustered issued a warning for the Mundi-Rumbek road from June 2015 through January 2016, when fighting between locals, pastoralists and the SPLA was most intense.  Generally, road conditions in Mvolo County are challenging, especially during rainy season.  The logistics cluster has designated roads through Mvolo “passable but with difficulties” in these months, with the Mvolo Culvert Bridge noted as a critical spot. 

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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