Lafon County, Eastern Equatoria
2016 population projection: 155,975
Major population centers: Lohutok (Lohutok Payam)
Major ethnic group: Pari, Lopit (also Boya, Latuka, Lokoya, Murle and Tenet)
There has been no significant internal displacement, however the county received a limited number of IDPs from Juba in the wake of December 2013 fighting.
Economy & livelihoods
Communities in Lafon County practice agro pastoralism. The County is geographically diverse, spanning four livelihood zones (see geographical features for more details). The northern, floodplains region of the County is more suitable for agriculture than the south. Residents in the north benefit from black cotton soils for agriculture, and also supplement their diets with fishing (mainly mudfish). However, where farming and fishing takes place, it is typically at or below subsistence levels. Some residents also keep livestock, including cattle and goats. Herders in Lafon County tend to migrate within their own County, moving along the seasonal streams which maintain sufficient water during the dry season. Most households rely on markets to meet their food needs.
IPC projection for Jan-Mar 2016
Lafon County is classified as “Crisis” for this time period. According to the Annual Needs and Livelihood Analysis 2014 2015** report, the food security situation had improved within the reporting period, though there was still a deficit of 2,905 tons of cereal in 2015. Threats to food security across the state more broadly include conflict related insecurity that disrupts market access, inclement weather, deprecating currency, rising market prices and dwindling cereal stocks at household level.
**A collaborative effort by the Republic of South Sudan, UN agencies and development partners
Dominant Control during conflict: SPLA
The outbreak of fighting in Juba in December 2013 led to mass displacement of residents fleeing conflict to neighboring counties, including Lafon. Approximately 1,472 IDPs arrived in Lafon County in early January 2014, many of them wives and children of SPLA soldiers. Eastern Equatoria State has not been directly affected by fighting, however, so the subsequent impact of the national conflict on Lafon County has been indirect.
Cattle raiding and highway banditry are the primary security threats in this region. During the dry season herds from Budi and Kapoeta North Counties frequently travel to the flood plains of Lafon for grazing, making the area prone to conflict. In addition, the sedentary Pari tribe tends to clash with arriving Lopa herds in the County’s south.
The naming of the County and location of its headquarters has been a highly sensitive and divisive issue between the Pari and Lopit peoples, the two predominant groups in the area. The two tribes have disagreed over the naming of the County since its establishment by Dr. John Garang, the late SPLM founder. The Pari community argued for the County to be named Lafon County and its headquarters to be located at Lafon Town. Meanwhile, the Lopit community wanted to name the county Lopa (an amalgamation of the names of the two main tribes) and for the county headquarters to be based at Imehejek. In 2009 the name of the County was changed from Lopa to Lafon County, and later, to Lafon/Lopa County. As of 2012 both the Lafon and Lopa “administrative units” maintained separate headquarters and created separate County Strategic Plans.
Geography & logistics
Arihilo, Burgilo, Imehejek, Kurumi, Lohutok, Longiro, Longiro, Pachidi
Lafon County is geographically diverse and contains several livelihood zones. The majority, southern half, of the County falls under the Hills and Mountains classification, while the northern region has Ironstone Plateau, Eastern Flood Plains as well as Pastoral zones. Clay and alluvial soils, thick forest vegetation as well as thorny shrub, are found in this region. In the northern flood plains regions, several streams flow in a north western direction and dry up in the dry season. The pockets of wetlands in the County’s north flood shallowly in the rainy season.
Secondary roads connect Lafon Town to Juba at its west and Torit (the state capital) to its south. Another secondary road runs south from Lafon, past the Lorehutok air field, and eventually joins with the Torit Kapoeta road. All roads are passable only by trucks (<20 metric tons), with the roads heading south being accessible all year (passable with warning according to a 20 May 2016 Logistics Cluster update) and the road to Juba only in the dry season. The roads passable all year may still be difficult to traverse as river crossings may be blocked where there are no bridges (concrete river bottom passages to be used instead). Finding alternative routes is not recommended due to the presence of land mines and UXOs left from the 1983 2005 civil war.
All season fixed-wing airstrips
Information last updated: 26/08/16
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