Yirol West County, Lakes
2016 population projection: 149,110
Major population centers: Yirol, Aluakluak, Mapuorit,
Major ethnic group: Dinka (Dinka Atuot clan)
There was reportedly significant displacement of herders and their livestock in the wake of December 2013 fighting but details are scarce. The county also received approximately 4,470 IDPs as a result of the conflict.
Economy & livelihoods
According to a 2013 IOM assessment, 34 percent of residents engage in farming, 28 percent livestock raising and 22 percent fishing for their livelihoods. Major crops cultivated are sorghum, sesame and groundnut, with some farmers also growing millet, cassava and vegetables. Maize is also cultivated on a limited scale.
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’s food security outlook had improved over the reporting period. It had a deficit of 78 tons of cereal in 2015.
**A collaborative effort by the Republic of South Sudan, UN agencies and development partners
Dominant Control during conflict: SPLA.
Yirol West has not been a center of fighting, though the Government has accused rebel forces of attacking civilians in the county during the initial outbreak of conflict. In January 2014 the state government said it moved its headquarters temporarily to Yirol Town in order to monitor the movement of rebel forces along the state’s border with Unity State (Yirol West itself does not border Unity).
However, the County has both hosted IDPs escaping from conflict affected regions and been a source of IDPs. As fighting in Juba rapidly spread to other states in December 2013, IDPs from Jonglei state began arriving in Lakes State. County officials said that most of the IDPs who sought refuge in Yirol West were originally from Bor South County, and had arrived either by boat or on foot. It should be noted that the majority of IDPs entering Lakes State first sought refuge in Awerial County, but some later moved into Yirol West, Yirol East and Rumbek Centre because of overcrowding in Awerial. By early January 2014, there were 1,445 IDPs in Yirol West, the majority of whom were based at Yirol town. This reportedly swelled to around 2,300 IDPs by mid January, and by February 2014 there were roughly 4,470 IDPs hosted in Yirol West.
Unknown numbers of Yirol West residents also migrated into Western Equatoria in 2014 and early 2015 with their herds in an effort to escape insecurity. Some migration had taken place annually during the dry season, for example into Mundri East and Mundri West, however the FAO flagged this movement as part of an abnormal migration, possible due to its greater scale. Frictions between arriving pastoralists and resident agriculturalists has led to government attempts to force herders to move back to their home states, with varying levels of success. For example, August 2014 SPLA soldiers were sent to escort Yirol West herds in Mundri East back to their home county.
Cattle rustling between communities in Yirol West and other counties in Lakes State have been a major source of intercommunal tensions. Traditional authorities, county commissioners and communities themselves have attempted to remedy the conflicts through peace forums but apparently with limited success. Intercommunal conflicts, including cattle raids, have not only disrupted agricultural livelihoods but also disrupted markets. For example in early 2015, the key Yirol Rumbek road was closed for two months, reportedly due to security fears.
Deep mistrust between the state government and youth across Lakes State is also evident in Yirol West. In July 2014, some youth called on residents working for the state government to leave their jobs, after an influential youth leader was murdered, with some youth suspecting government involvement. The following year, a group of Yirol West youth blocked the Rumbek Yirol road in protest of the governor’s decision to cancel a local road construction program.
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 cattle 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
Abang, Aluakluak, Anuol, Geng geng, Gher, Mapuorit, Yirol
The River Lou (or Dok/Dhok) runs through Yirol West County. Lake Nyiropo is located at the County’s southwestern corner. The County falls under both the Ironstone Plateau and Western Flood Plains livelihood zones.
There are three primary roads connecting Yirol to surrounding counties. To the north, a road connects to Shambe, in Yirol East County. To the east, a road connects to Awerial (also of Yirol East). Another primary road runs west out of Yirol, past Aluakluak, to eventually connect to the state capital, Rumbek, in Rumbek Centre County. All three roads are passable with all vehicles throughout the year. The sole exception is a short segment between Payij village and Aluakluak (on the Yirol Aluakluak link), which is only accessible in the dry season, to all vehicles. However, an earlier Logistics Cluster assessment concluded that heavy flooding could completely cut off road access to Yirol and Alauklauk, as heavy rains in 2012 made some sections impassable, so caution is recommended.
All season fixed-wing airstrips
Information last updated: 26/08/16
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