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Jonglei residents dig ponds to fight drought

August 27, 2019 South Sudan NEWS PORTAL

Villagers use pickaxes and shovels to deepen Mabil pond. Some 316 members of the Ruar Leek community are working to expand the pond
Villagers work to rehabilitate a dry season pond through a food-for-assets initiative in Ruar Leek village, Bor county, Jonglei State, South Sudan, April 8, 2019. Photo: Aljazeera

(JONGLEI) – Ruar Leek village in Jonglei state suffers from harsh drought during South Sudan’s dry season, leaving the earth parched and the local watering holes empty.

Pastoralist herders can be forced to drive their cattle for kilometres to access water and green pasture.

But now, the village is collaborating to find a solution that will provide enough water to help sustain Ruar Leek through the dry months.

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“We’re digging a pond so that our cattle can get water nearby,” said James Jongkuch Nyang.

Nyang walks among his cattle in Ruar Leek village. A more substantial local water source could help these people keep their livestock healthy.
James Jongkuch Nyang, 55, walks amongst his cattle in Ruar Leek village. Photo: Aljazeera

The civil war in South Sudan has not only resulted in huge death and displacement figures, but has also destroyed facilities such as schools and clinics, while the lack of state services has allowed other infrastructure to fall into disrepair.

The community’s efforts to rehabilitate Mabil water pond are part of the Resilience and Food Security Program (RFSP), a food security and livelihoods program funded by USAID Food for Peace in six counties of Greater Jonglei State. The program aims at improving food security and helping conflict-affected communities build up resilience to shocks such as drought, flooding and conflict-driven crises. One component assists communities to create or rehabilitate productive assets including feeder roads, flood dykes, water ponds, river navigation channels, and primary school classrooms. Each person who volunteers for the food-for-assets program receives 50 kilograms of sorghum, five kilograms of yellow split peas and three kilograms of cooking oil for 20 days of work. The ponds are used as watering holes for livestock, and used for irrigation in the dry season.

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