03 Jun 2021
By: Nabie Loyce

Bor – In July 2020, the South Sudanese town of Bor was devastated by flash floods following days of heavy rainfall. A dike constructed along the White Nile collapsed as a result of the heavy rains. Homes, crops, and livestock were destroyed and more than 135,000 residents of Bor were left with nothing. Bor is located on the east side of the White Nile in South Sudan's central wetlands.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) responded to this emergency by working with youth from the community through its Shelter and Settlement unit to repair more than 90  broken points along the dike using sandbags to stop water from flowing into communities, saving thousands of homes and property.

A flooded church in Bor. ©IOM2021/Nabie Loyce

To further improve and reinforce the dikes, IOM has employed the use of excavators to construct a new 9.4-kilometer dike as well as maintaining existing ones stretching along several villages, including Amoyok village.

A team from IOM recently visited Amoyok village where the construction work is currently ongoing to assess the progress.

With the instructions of the engineer, the excavator digs into the waters with its bucket to extract soil and other material to fill the long embankment which is being built to prevent flood waters from reaching the communities in Bor.

Twenty-two-years-old Anyeith Mach, a resident of Amoyok joins the assessment team.

“The people of Bor have really suffered,” says Anyeith. 

Anyeith shows her flooded house in Amoyok village, Bor. ©IOM2021/Nabie Loyce

She left her home and sought refuge on higher ground when the water levels became increasingly dangerous and unbearable.

“When floods started, we wanted to stay even as our neighbors left. We had nowhere to go, this was our only home; we had our crops which were just starting to yield,” says Anyeith.

“But we eventually had to leave because the whole house flooded, and my children started to fall sick. We could not stay any longer,” says Anyeith.

Anyeith was forced to rent a house, something she says she was not prepared for and has brought with it additional costs.

“It hurts me so much when I have to rent, while my house is sleeping empty with only water inside.”, says Anyeith.

IOM Outreach Shelter Assistant inspects the construction work. ©IOM2021/Nabie Loyce

The construction of dikes is slowly restoring hope to more than 60,000 people including Anyeith to return to their homes.

“I came here to see the progress of the work. My spirit is now at peace because I know when this work is complete my family and I will return to our house”, she says while watching the excavator compact the soil on the dike to make it firmer.

“This catastrophe in Bor has caused serious damages to people’s lives and properties. Shelters are completely submerged in water and we believe the work on these dikes will dry the water in these villages and give people the chance to return to their homes and start their lives all over again”, says Muhammad Asar, IOM South Sudan’s Shelter and Settlement Programme Coordinator.

Part of IOM’s contingency plan to support communities in flood-prone areas in Bor respond to flood emergency. ©IOM2021/Nabie Loyce

In addition to the dike construction, IOM has also formed and trained Community-Based Disaster Risk Management Committees in areas which were mostly affected by floods in Bor. The committees will be equipped with emergency preparedness and response kits, including canoes, sandbags, and tools to quickly respond to such disasters.

“We know that local communities are the first responders during any disaster, that is why we are capacitating these newly formed committees to be ready when another flood emergency arises in future” says Muhammad Asar.

IOM’s Flood Response activities in Bor are supported by Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).

This article was written by Nabie Loyce, IOM South Sudan Media and Communications Assistant.