Nagero County, Western Equatoria

General information

2016 population projection: 12,502

Major population centers: There are no primary or secondary sized towns in Nagero County. Nagero town is the only population center to appear on some Western Equatoria State maps. It lies on an unnamed river, relatively close to but not directly on the main road that connects Wau, Tambura, Yambio, Maridi, Mundi and Juba.

Major ethnic group: The three largest ethnic groups in Nagero County are the Zande/Azande, Balanda (Bor and Barari), and Bongo.

Displacement risk:

Low to unknown risk of displacement.  Beginning in March 2015, OCHA began reporting that neighboring counties housed significant refugee populations along the borders with CAR and DR Congo. Throughout late 2015, Western Bhar el Ghazal to the north saw increasing displacement, especially around Wau.  In December 2015, neighboring Tambura and Ezo Counties to the southwest became displacement “hotspots,” spurring significant internal and external displacement.  As of May 2016, more than 93,000 are reported displaced in Western Equatoria statewide.  Since the renewed national violence in 2013, however, OCHA and UNHCR have never specifically name Nagero County as either a source of displacement or as a displacement receiving site.
*National Bureau of Statistics, Population projections for South Sudan by County

* about this map

Economy & livelihoods

Ninety percent of households in Nagero County are subsistence farmers.  The main crops grown in Western Equatoria are maize, sorghum, cassava, and groundnuts.  Agriculture-based livelihoods in Nagero County are supplemented by collecting wild food, harvesting honey, and fishing for domestic consumption.  As part of the country’s “Green Belt,” agricultural production throughout the Equatorias is critical for mitigating food insecurity in other parts of South Sudan (WFP 2015).  Grain and livestock shocks in Western Equatoria transmit to other parts of the country.
The largest concentrations of South Sudan’s cattle (about 48 percent of total national cattle) are located just north of Nagero County in Greater Bahr el Ghazal.  Normal seasonal livestock migrations see pastoralists from neighboring Wau County travel south into and through Nagero County during the dry season, in search of low grazing grounds near waterways.   The annual movement of South Sudan’s estimated 12 million cattle has always stirred controversy throughout the country.  Migrant pastoralist groups clash with each other and with settled farming communities.
The onset of the conflict in 2013 disrupted traditional migrator routes and has seen widespread displacement of pastoralists and their livestock.  As a result, tribal conflicts, cattle raids, and disease outbreaks have all intensified on an unprecedented scale.  This is most pronounced in the eastern counties of Western Equatoria, but mirrored in other parts of the state and country.
In 2009, Nagero County entered into a twenty-year contract with a business firm hoping to export timber.  There is no update on the status of this investment nor is it clear if or how the conflict might have impacted the project.

IPC projection for Jan-Mar 2016

IPC projects that food security will be “stressed” for Nagero County for January to March 2016. The rest of Western Equatoria state is projected to experience “minimal” food insecurity. Neighboring Western Bahr-el Ghazal is also projected as “stressed” and Warrap State is projected to be in “crisis.”

Historical context

Dominant Control during conflict:  SPLA/M originally.  Control (and security) deteriorated as local militias and community defense forces challenged SPLA/M, including the “Arrow Boys” and the SPLA/M-IO.
Conflict in the Equatorias has followed a trajectory distinct from that in the Greater Upper Nile region.  By early 2015, however, an unusually large influx of Dinka cattle herders from conflict-ridden states exacerbated preexisting tensions between local farmers and migrating pastoralists in nearby Maridi and Mundi counties.  As inter-communal fighting escalated, perceptions that the SPLA favored the Dinka cattle herders only increased and spread the conflict.   The conflict spurred (re)mobilization of community defense forces throughout Western Equatoria State, known as the “Arrow Boys.”
The “Arrow Boys” previously played a pivotal role in containing the violent activities of Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the 2000s.  As recently as 2010, Nagero County was one of the areas most affected by LRA violence.  Today’s Arrow Boys groups have begun to engage more in national-level conflict dynamics.  Since late 2015, some of the Arrow Boys have formally aligned with the SPLA-IO against the government.  A December 2015 SPLA-IO statement warned the government against provoking further clashes in locations occupied by Arrow Boys, listing Nagero as one of the places with Arrow Boys present.   Since March 2016, violence has begun to decrease in Western Equatoria State.  The timing of groups’ formal alignment (or lack thereof) with the SPLA-IO, however, is both consequential and controversial as in determines groups’ eligibility for cantonment.
Historically, Tambura and Nagero Counties have engaged in a long dispute over the border demarcation.  Nagero was previously a payam of Tombura County and no clear border was demarcated when Nagero became its own county in 2004.  Longstanding tensions also exist between the local, mainly Zande, farmers and the Mbororo cattle herders who travel through the area.

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


Nagero. While not included in the South Sudan census, Namatina and Duma are also repeatedly referred to as payams of Nagero County in South Sudanese journalistic reports.

Geographical features

Nagero is the northernmost county in Western Equatoria, bordering Western Bahr el Ghazal State.  Several rivers run through Nagero county.  Nagero town lies on an unnamed river to the west of the main road.  River Sue runs parallel to the road, on the east.  River Pongo flows along the county’s west and River Tonj in the east.

Main roads

A main road runs north-south through Nagero County.  It connects Wau in the north through Nagero to Tambura, Yambio, Maridi, Mundi and Juba.  The logistics cluster issued a consistent warning for the Tambura-Wau portion of the route (through Nagero County) from May 2015 to February 2016.  The route was designated as “passable with difficulties” and “many critical spots” in late 2015.

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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