Torit County, Eastern Equatoria
2016 population projection: 146,643
Major population centers: Torit (also the state capital)
Major ethnic group: Latuka, Acholi (and minority of Lolubo)
There is low risk of internal displacement and, while Torit received some IDPs in the wake of December 2013 fighting, it was not a congregation point for displaced persons. Of the thousands of people fleeing to Eastern Equatoria state from Juba and Bor Counties, it appears the majority made their way to Magwi County or into Uganda. According to a June 2014 UNHCR estimate, 667 South Sudanese from Torit County also fled to Uganda after the violence in December 2013.
Economy & livelihoods
County residents engage in both farming and livestock herding for their livelihoods. The county belongs to the Hills and Mountains livelihood zone where areas at higher elevation receive more rainfall annually than Greenbelt states. A 2012 survey found that Torit received average yearly rainfall of 1,025mm. Some residents in Torit County also have access to tractors (Torit has five out of the 12 functioning tractors in the state), which greatly enhances production efficiency. The main crops grown are millet, cassava, sorghum, fruits and vegetables. However, most households still engage in cultivation at below subsistence levels, relying on the market to meet their food needs.
The relative availability of water resources means herders in Torit generally move their herds along the County’s seasonal streams, which provide just enough water in the dry season. However, cattle raiding remains a threat and fuels intercommunal violence. The other main security threat is armed robberies along the main highways (Torit links to Juba, Nadapal and Ikotos by road). Intercommunal violence and highway banditry have a detrimental impact on agricultural activities, and disrupt the flow of goods and services in the County.
A 2011 survey by the South Sudanese government’s National Bureau of Statistics also found that drivers on the key 128km Juba-Torit road were subjected to numerous checkpoints and on some journeys spent more time waiting at checkpoints than driving.
Torit town is the state capital and a major regional hub for trade. Residents who do not own livestock engage in small-scale trading in products such as local beer, mats and honey. Others find work as couriers for government officials. Like Juba, most non-agricultural businesses in the area are reportedly owned and operated by foreign investors, notably from Kenya and Uganda. Residents ostensibly have easy access to goods (though in practice, the economic crisis has lowered people’s purchasing power). Similar to the other main regional markets at Yei and Juba, markets in Torit have almost always received regular supplies throughout the conflict as key southern trade routes have generally functioned as normal.
IPC projection for Jan-Mar 2016
The County is classified as “Crisis” for this time period. According to the Annual Needs and Livelihood Analysis 2014-2015** report, the County had a surplus of 1,316 tons of cereal in 2015. An April 2016 report from the WFP and FAO found that farmers undertook weeding two to three times per season for most crops during the planting season, indicating the presence of good crops this year.
**A collaborative effort by the Republic of South Sudan, UN agencies and development partners
Dominant Control during conflict: SPLA.
The SPLA Greater Equatoria regional sector is headquartered in Torit, per a January 2013 decree by President Salva Kiir (the other regional headquarters are in Wau and Malakal).
The County remained under Juba’s control throughout the conflict, and did not witness major fighting between Government and Opposition forces. However, there have been notable pockets of resistance against the SPLA and limited clashes have occurred. In August 2015, the state governor accused rebels loyal to Riek Machar of overrunning several areas of the state after the peace agreement, though he did not name specific locations. In September 2015, a new anti government group calling themselves the South Sudan Armed Forces (SSAF) announced they were taking up arms against the Government. The predominantly ethnic Latuka group, led by a former SPLA commander, appears to share similar demands to the Opposition led by Riek Machar, such as calling for a federal system of government. The group appears to be based around Torit and launched two notable attacks against Government forces in the state by the end of 2015 (see Lafon/Lopa County for more details).
Intercommunal violence linked to cattle raids and revenge attacks have been prevalent, including between residents of Torit and Lafon/Lopa Counties, as well as between communities in Torit County. There have been reports that government security forces, dispatched to investigate and ostensibly resolve these tensions, are perpetuating further violence including looting homes, sexual violence and shooting at civilians.
In October 2014 a national UNMISS staff member was arrested in Torit by Government security forces and taken to a National Security Service (NSS) detention facility in Juba, where he remains. The Government accused the individual of supporting the Opposition, but has not filed formal charges. The incident appears to be part of a broader trend of targeting, detainment or expulsion of prominent community members and humanitarian workers by the Government.
Geography & logistics
Bur, Himodonge, Hiyala, Ifwotu, Imurok, Kudo, Torit
Torit County is part of the country’s Hills and Mountains livelihood zone, with two cropping seasons in areas at higher elevation (April July and September December) and one in lowland areas (April September). The soil is alluvial and the land is characterized by thick forest vegetation. The Kidepo Valley separates Torit County from Budi County at its east.
Torit, the state capital, is connected to Juba to its west and Kapoeta to its east by a primary road. In both directions the road is open all seasons to vehicles up to trailers (>20 metric tons). A secondary road runs north from Torit to Lafon Town, Lafon County, and south to Magwi Town, Magwi County. Both roads are passable with warning (as of a May 2016 Logistics Cluster Update). The road north to Lafon from Torit is accessible to trucks (<20 metric tons) and, in some segments, only in the dry season. The road running south to Magwi Town is accessible throughout all seasons but only to 4WD (<3.5 metric tons).
All season fixed-wing airstrips
None. As of a May 2013 Logistics Cluster update, the air field at Torit and Loronyo are out of use. The most accessible airfield nearby would likely be Lohutok, in Lafon/Lopa County.
Information last updated: 26/08/16
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