Emergency flood response to unprecedented floods in South Sudan

Heavy rains and flooding have devastated vast areas of South Sudan, exacerbating an already complex humanitarian situation. Danish Refugee Council in South Sudan is providing emergency flood response to the affected persons in Maban County, North-East of the country.


With the support of European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), DRC emergency response assessment teams were deployed in Maban County to provide immediate lifesaving assistance to those affected. 

Abnormally heavy seasonal flooding that has devastated large areas of South Sudan since July 2019, affecting an estimated 908.000 people. In October 2019, severe flooding damaged shelters and swept away belongings of both refugee and host community households across Maban County. 

Caught off-guard

It is estimated that over 68,000 individuals from the host community were caught off-guard as floods raided their area overnight. 

“The water came at around 4AM in the morning. I noticed it when I woke up and unfortunately I found my sandals already flooded under the bed. This was when I noticed that water was actually everywhere in the house,” Ajak, a mother of four said.

Many did not expect any flood waters at all, as in some payams (towns) there was no rain. 

“There was no rain, we did not understand where the water was coming from that could destroy our homes like that,” Nancy narrates.

In her village only a few roofs survived the flooding, while all mud walls, household items and livestock were washed away. Heavy rainfall and flooding has also affected several other East African countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. 

Humanitarian assistance needed

In South Sudan, DRC deployed a Protection, Shelter-&-NFI, and WASH Mobile Response teams to conduct emergency rapid assessment in Maban County.

The assessments revealed critical needs and most vulnerable locations, where immediate assistance will be provided to an estimated 26,640 individuals with additional funding support provided by ECHO.

This will include distribution of WASH kits, emergency flood hygiene promotions, Dignity Kits, Shelter and Non-Food Item kits, rehabilitation of 40 water sources and 20 institutional latrines affected, support to SGBV survivors and protection awareness raising to community leaders. 

Before the severe flooding started in South Sudan, more than three million people were in need of humanitarian assistance. This number is likely to increase as flood waters have destroyed arable land, livestock and food, with 60% of flood-affected counties facing extreme level of acute malnutrition. 

Affected families in Maban are mainly surviving off food that was not affected, sharing what little is left or fishing in the river.  

“We cope by sharing with others from the community who have recovered a few of their things, like cooking pots. Children are given priority to cover themselves with blankets, and sleeping inside the mosquito nets,” Nancy said.