Nothing like a summer camp

The flood water has split Pibor in two, making what was dryland a busy port

Helene Sandbu Ryeng
A boy in a canoe
22 September 2020

The Pibor River is normally curving into Pibor town before it makes a new turn to the east, but this year the curve is more of the wide ones you see in car drifting competitions. The water has continued into the town submerging houses, roads and markets and has split the town in two, making it difficult for people to reach the main market in town.

UNICEF South Sudan/Ryeng


By first sight, it can look like a summer camp with children canoeing as their day activity. In reality, this has become one of the busiest ports in Pibor. For 30 SSP [ 6 cents based on today's exchange rate] you can cross to the other side where the main market is.

children on a makeshift raft

Others are fixing their own transportation..


two people in a canoe

The seasonal rain is causing floods every year, but the last few years the flooding has been more severe, reaching a peak in 2019. The water levels are still increasing in Pibor and the weather forecast is promising rain throughout November. How far the water will go this year, no one knows.

580,000 people in South Sudan are affected by this year's flooding, with Upper Nile, Lakes and Jonglei where Pibor is situated being the most affected areas.


two boys paddeling

UNICEF is responding in the flooded areas with clean water, improved sanitation and hygiene being the first priority. Furthermore, UNICEF is working with nutrition and health partners to ensure continuation of services as many health and nutrition centres are flooded and makeshift arrangements must be made. Around Pibor there used to be 16 nutrition centres, now there is only one in a tent provided by UNICEF.

UNICEF's ability to respond to sudden onset crises is much thanks to our donors responding to our humanitarian action for children appeal, such as the Government of Belgium, Germany and Sweden.