Magwi County, Eastern Equatoria
2016 population projection: 249,293
Major population centers: Nimule, Magwi, Pageri towns
Major ethnic group: Acholi, Madi (with some Dinka)
There is low risk of internal displacement but medium risk of persons being displaced to Magwi. Historically, the region has hosted large numbers of IDPs during times of conflict, including the outbreak of violence in December 2013. Roughly 35,000 IDPs were registered in Nimule Town by January 2014, the majority of whom were able to stay with relatives in the area. Some new arrivals were subsequently moved to the Maligo IDP camp, just outside town. As of January 2015, the camp hosted approximately 5,000 displaced persons.
Economy & livelihoods
The Madi and Acholi communities rely predominantly on farming for their livelihoods. The county is divided between the northern Hills and Mountains and southern Greenbelt livelihood zones – both of which are suitable for agriculture. The Greenbelt Zone, and parts of the Hills and Mountains zone at higher elevations, and have two cropping seasons each (April July, and September December for Hills and Mountains areas and March June and July November for the Greenbelt zone). The Hills and Mountains zone lowlands have one cropping season (April September). In addition to relatively favorable weather conditions, some residents also have access to tractors, which significantly improves production efficiency. As of April 2016, Magwi and Pageri towns have seven functioning tractors between them (out of a total of 12 in the entire state), according to a joint FAO/WFP report. The main crops grown are cassava, maize and sorghum, with some cultivation of sweet potatoes, beans and groundnuts. In 2014, Magwi County accounted for 32 percent of the entire state’s net cereal production. Some traders from Juba reportedly travel to Magwi (as well as Yei, Morobo and Maridi) to buy produce to sell in Juba.
Magwi County is located next to the border with Uganda and Nimule Town is one of the two main overland crossing points between the two countries (the other being Kaya Town, Morobo County), serving Juba. As most of the county’s formal food imports come from or through Uganda, the Kampala Nimule Juba trading route is extremely important. It has not been affected by fighting.
Unusually, residents of Magwi County did not identify cattle raiding as a key security threat in a 2012 UNDP community consultation report, due to the population’s focus on agriculture. They were the only exception among the counties surveyed in Eastern Equatoria State. However, there have been some frictions with communities in neighboring Uganda over cattle grazing on Magwi land, tied to border demarcation tensions.
IPC projection for Jan-Mar 2016
Magwi County is classified as “Stressed” for this time period. According to the WFP led Annual Needs and Livelihood Analysis 2014 2015** report, the food security situation in the county had improved within the reporting period, with a surplus of 21,573 tons of cereal in 2015.
**A collaborative effort by the Republic of South Sudan, UN agencies and development partners.
Dominant Control during conflict: SPLA
The county has remained mostly under Government control since the outbreak of fighting in December 2013. However, Opposition forces have maintained a presence in the area and there have been pockets of fighting. In December 2014 an ethnic Madi commander from the Nimule area, Major General Martin Kenyi, defected from the SPLA which led to a brief rise in tensions. Riek Machar subsequently appointed Kenyi as the commander of the SPLM/A in Opposition’s “Eastern Equatoria Forces”. In August 2015, a group allied with the Opposition declared they captured Magwi Town in retaliation for an earlier Government attack on their base nearby – a claim the Government denied. Sources told media that fighting did take place within the town but the attackers reportedly withdrew.
Heavy deployment of Government forces to areas suspected of harboring Opposition forces have also led to allegations of human rights abuses. SPLA forces have been accused of arbitrary arrests and disappearances of community members, leading to conflict with the community, particularly youth. In February 2015 clashes between SPLA and community members were reported in the County during which around 150 houses were burned.
Magwi County received a significant influx of IDPs and their livestock as December 2013 fighting in Juba developed into a national conflict. In January 2014, roughly 35,000 IDPs were registered at Nimule Town, the majority of whom were able to stay with relatives in the area. Up to 30,000 IDPs had also fled into Uganda, passing through Nimule. Some IDPs in Nimule were subsequently moved to Maligo IDP camp, just outside the town. As of January 2015, the camp hosted approximately 5,000 displaced persons. Furthermore, by April 2014 approximately 250,000 animals from Bor South, Jonglei had moved into the Madi corridor (eastern side) of Magwi County. The abnormal movement was linked to the outbreak of the national conflict, as herders sought to flee fighting. Their arrival led to some conflict with host communities over the destruction of farmland. The herds also brought diseases which had previously not been seen in the area, including foot and mouth disease.
There are on going border demarcation disputes between residents of Magwi County and their Ugandan neighbors, particularly near Lobone, Ngomoromo and Pogee. Some Magwi residents say Ugandan farmers and livestock keepers are encroaching on their land.
Geography & logistics
Lobone, Magwi, Mugali, Nimule, Pageri, Pajok
The northern half of Magwi County is part of the Hills and Mountains livelihood zone, characterized by alluvial soils and thick forest vegetation. Meanwhile the County’s southern half is part of the Greenbelt, with loam soils and adequate rainfall which make it highly conducive to agriculture.
A primary road connects Nimule with Juba to its north, with branching roads connecting to Kajo Keji town (Kajo Keji County) to its northwest and Magwi town to its northeast. Magwi also connects to state capital Torit via a secondary road (passable with warning as of May 2016). The Nimule Juba road is accessible in all seasons to vehicles up to and including trailers (>20 metric tons).
All season fixed-wing airstrips
Information last updated: 26/08/16
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