UNICEF child reporters send a cry for help

It’s hard to smile while floods are taking the lives of children in South Sudan

Hellen Alison, Biong Achiek, Wendy Macar
Ayuang, collecting water, was displaced by floods with her family from Bor in Jonglei state, last year.
01 November 2021

Climate change is a very serious issue calling for global attention. The impact of climate change is already happening today in South Sudan. It is putting thousands of lives at risk. Flooding has been occurring frequently and heavily in South Sudan leading to displacement, widespread diseases, and starvation.

Recently, we went to a Walawalang, a neighborhood in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, to see the impact of climate change on the lives of children.

The people most affected by climate change are children.  They lack adequate and healthy food because flooding has damaged many food crops. We are very sad to say a 14-year-old child lost his life climbing a tree to feed his empty stomach. He fell out of the tree and died immediately.

Malnutrition is widespread in South Sudan. Flooding is leading to the displacement of people, loss of land to grow food and lack of access to food and a further increase of malnutrition among many children. Malnutrition contributes to high mortality among children in our country. One in 10 children dies before the age of 5. If children are dying due to hunger and preventable issues, then we have a very big problem.

UNICEF Child Reporters visiting Walangwalang to report on climate change.
UNICEF Child Reporters visiting Walangwalang to report on climate change.

‘’Water is life.’’ That is what we say. However, water also takes many lives, including of children, when it is polluted and overflowing. Unfortunately, people use stagnant water for drinking, bathing, cooking food, and washing clothes.  It is sad to see children in Walawalang suffering from malaria, typhoid, cholera, and skin diseases. All because of the floods and the polluted water.

When children fall sick because they use contaminated water, parents - due to lack of resources – give their children local herbs, trying to treat diseases themselves instead of going to a doctor.

We are worried about the lives of children in South Sudan.

Due to flooding children and their families are displaced. They sleep under trees, without shelter, with no mosquito net, no food, or no blanket to protect them. All their belongings were taken by water. Their houses are destroyed by the floods.

A student swims across a flooded path on his way home from school in Walawalang village.
A student swims across a flooded path on his way home from school in Walawalang village.

Here children and their families are just surviving. They don’t know whether they will eat today or not. Going to school and attending lessons is no longer a priority in this kind of situation. In Walawalang parents are struggling to pay for a boat for their children to cross the river to reach a school that is not flooded. Some children take off their uniforms and cross the river by swimming holding their uniforms on the top of their heads.

We, UNICEF Child Reporters calling for urgent help for the children of South Sudan, including for those children that are most affected by the floods.  We ask everyone to play their role in developing and maintaining a climate-friendly lifestyle.