Juba — Government of the Republic of South Sudan and its partners have launched a three-year project to harvest water in Jonglei, one South Sudan's most conflict-prone states, in which scarcity of water is blamed for inter-communal conflicts.
The project is to ensure that youth who currently spend about a half-year moving to other areas with cattle in search of water, leaving fights in their path, stay in their localities.
"Water points and wells have been poisoned in the past, and this kind of investment may not have been feasible during the war," Dr. Sue Lautze, Head of Office, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, South Sudan Program said in a press statement in Juba.
"This is expected to contribute to community stability and peace in Jonglei, particularly in Uror and Nyirol Counties where natural resources-based conflicts are prevalent," says Isaac Liabwel, Undersecretary, Ministry of Water Resources & Irrigation, Republic of South Sudan.
The feasibility study for the Canadian Aid-funded project unveiled at a major stakeholder's workshop bringing together central government officials, state ministers, civil society and donor partners, has taken more than a year to put together.
Jonglei has witnessed some instability, especially along the cattle routes to and from the areas inhabited by the Lou Nuer (Uror, Nyirol and Akobo-West) and along Pibor-Bor corridors between Pibor and Akobo areas.
"The problem is enormous," Ali Said, Chief Technical Advisor, Sustainable Food Security Through Community-based Livelihood Development and Water Harvesting, noted. "People are killing each other due to completion over water resources."
Youth have been engaged in almost all conflicts, some of which were characterised by violent armed conflicts resulting in the death of innocent rural people, extensive destruction of homes and livelihood assets and displacement of large number of people.
When water harvesting for cattle begins, there would be substantial underemployed youth presence in their home village areas whose engagement in agriculture, vocational and skills training will reduce their involvement in future conflicts, reads the statement in part. It further stresses that water harvest would reduce the workload of the elderly and the women and open an opportunity for girls to go to schools.
"Under normal weather conditions and relative peace and stability, Jonglei has a potential to be a surplus producing area both in crop and livestock production and fishing," says Dr. Sue Lautze, "but it cannot do so if localised conflicts are not halted or reduced to manageable levels," she adds.