Awerial County, Lakes
2016 population projection: 68,510
Major population centers: Mingkaman
Major ethnic group: Dinka (Dinka Aliab clan)
There is low risk of internal displacement, but the county received a massive influx of IDPs as fighting between Government and Opposition forces rapidly spread to neighboring Unity State in 2013.
Economy & livelihoods
Awerial County residents engage in a mix of fishing, herding and farming for their livelihoods. In the county’s Western Flood Plains livelihood zone, residents herd cattle and goats, and grow mainly sorghum, ground nuts, maize, pumpkin and beans. Wild produce such as water lily seeds and nuts are also consumed. In the county’s Ironstone Plateau livelihood zone, residents rely mainly on farming for their livelihoods. The main crops grown are sorghum and maize. People living near the White Nile, located at the county’s eastern border with Jonglei State, engage in cattle keeping, agriculture and fishing. The soil in Awerial County contains high clay content, and cereals planted are predominantly late maturing sorghum landrace, thus crop development is able to withstand relative fluctuations in rainfall. Residents reportedly are not used to imported seeds, and prefer to use local seeds.
IPC projection for Jan-Mar 2016
The County is classified as “Stressed” for this time period. According to the Annual Needs and Livelihood Analysis 2014 2015 report**, the county had a deficit of 7,692 tons of cereal in 2015. Food security during the reporting period was rated as “slightly improved”.
**A collaborative effort by the Republic of South Sudan, UN agencies and development partners.
Dominant Control during conflict: SPLA.
Awerial County has not been a major site of conflict between the SPLA and SPLA IO since fighting erupted in December 2013. Some skirmishes between Government and Opposition forces reportedly took place in December 2013 and January 2014, which killed around 50 individuals. The County has been spared major violence since that time.
However, as the County shares a border with Jonglei state, which has seen significant fighting, Awerial received massive influxes of both IDPs and their livestock in the immediate aftermath of outbreak of conflict. The majority of Awerial County’s IDPs are hosted at the Mingkaman Spontaneous Settlement, near the County’s eastern border, on the banks of the White Nile. By January 2014, the small fishing village of Mingkaman, with a population of approximately 7,700, had received roughly 85,000 IDPs – mainly from Jonglei’s Bor, Twic East and Duk Counties. Since then the camp’s population has fluctuated depending on the levels of conflict in the neighboring Jonglei counties. . As of July 2015, there were 101,238 IDPs in Awerial, with the majority believed to be residing at the Mingkaman camp. Humanitarian groups placed the number of IDPs at Mingkaman at 52,942 in a December 2015 count, however the assessment noted the estimate did not include newly settled areas adjacent to the established site. Aside from initial frictions related to parceling out farming land for IDPs, the camp has been relatively peaceful and new arrivals reportedly felt welcome. At the same time, there have been frictions between camp residents and nearby cattle camps; and alcohol use is also believed to be leading to a rise in violence within the camp.
By 2015, Awerial had also become the primary displacement location for livestock from neighboring Bor South County, Jonglei State as herders sought refuge in the relative safety of Lakes State. Out of the estimated 12 million cattle in South Sudan, by March 2015 FAO and partners estimated there were roughly 750,000 cattle in Awerial alone (accounting for both native and migrating animals). The influx of livestock strained existing resources, led to spread of largely locally contained diseases to new herds, and may have exacerbated the incidence of violent cattle raids. The presence of small arms among Awerial County civilians was already high before the national conflict, and may have risen since, though exact figures are not available.
Broader Lakes State Trends
The SPLA SPLA IO conflict appears to have exacerbated intercommunal violence nation wide. There have been decades of inter clan and intra clan violence in Lakes State, however there has been an alarming rise in intercommunal violence and cycles of revenge attacks since early 2014. The influx of IDPs and their livestock inevitably strains existing, limited resources, including grazing land, water and salt licks. Migrating herds may destroy crops, leading to conflict between migrating herders and resident farmers. Intermingling between local and newly arrived herds has led to spread of diseases to previously unaffected populations. Locals sometimes raise concerns that new arrivals will claim land for themselves and eventually refuse to leave. Ongoing insecurity may also embolden criminal elements, who may use the environment of impunity to conduct more cattle raids, looting, and other criminal activities. Finally, the proliferation of small arms among Lakes State civilians appears to have increased the level of violence of these clashes and led to higher death tolls.
Also notable is that mistrust between the Government and Lakes State residents remain a possible source of conflict. There is significant local opposition to the state’s military caretaker governor, Maj Gen Matur Chut Dhoul, appointed by the president, who has been accused of exacerbating instead of reducing intercommunal violence.
Geography & logistics
Abuyong, Bun agok, Dor, Magok, Nile, Puluk, Alel I, Alel II
Awerial County has three livelihood zones: the Nile Sobat next to the County’s eastern border with the White Nile, the Ironstone Plateau which covers roughly the County’s center and the Western Flood Plains at the County’s south. The Nile Sobat zone is characterized by green vegetation and black cotton soils, with swamps and wetlands. Open savannah woodland and porous soils are found in the Ironstone Plateau areas. Western Flood Plains experience seasonal flooding, turning into swamps in the rainy season, and have black clay soils and short vegetation. The relatively flat Lakes State is prone to flooding in general.
Awerial Town is connected by primary road to Yirol to its north and Terekeka (and eventually Juba) at its south. According to a May 2013 Logistics Cluster map, the road is accessible during all seasons for all vehicles, including trailers weighing more than 20 metric tons. However, as Awerial is prone to flooding road conditions should be checked frequently. Bor Town, Bor South County, Jonglei State is approximately 20km away, across the Nile River.
All season fixed-wing airstrips
Information last updated: 26/08/16
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