The United Nations Mission to South Sudan (UNMISS) has conducted a week long visit to try to mitigate conflict between farmers and herders who are forced to move their cattle regularly in search for water.
South Sudan is particularly vulnerable to droughts and floods and, in the absence of secure and stable water supply, the country witnesses cyclical migrations of livestock in search for water.
These movements trigger conflicts regularly as crops are damaged by the passing cattle. Fatal attacks between communities have been taking place as UNMISS is trying to de-escalate the tensions in the region.
There is hope that the implementation of the 2016 Marial Bai Agreement will help squash the conflicts. The accord regulates compensation, resource allocation and procedures for mobile courts to settle disputes.
However, community representatives fear that, without a stable solution to the water supply, conflicts will not completely disappear: “Because of a lack of water for our cows, we must relocate them throughout the dry season, and these movements sometimes result in disputes. If we had sufficient water sources in one place we would remain there and avoid the risk of conflict inherent in the migration of our animals” said Joseph Dut, from the Kirik community.
Moreover, in a country where, according to the UN, 75% of the population is in need, women are being particularly affected by the violence and worry that no concrete action is being taken to mitigate this.