Ruar Leek village in Jonglei state suffers from harsh drought during South Sudan’s dry season, leaving the earth parched and the local watering holes empty.
Pastoralist herders can be forced to drive their cattle for kilometres to access water and green pasture.
But now, the village is collaborating to find a solution that will provide enough
water to help sustain Ruar Leek through the dry months.
“We’re digging a pond so that our cattle can get water nearby,” said James Jongkuch Nyang.
The civil war in
South Sudan has not only resulted in huge death and displacement figures, but has also destroyed facilities such as schools and clinics, while the lack of state services has allowed other infrastructure to fall into disrepair.
Nyang walks among his cattle in Ruar Leek village. A more substantial local water source could help these people keep their livestock healthy. ‘We’ve experienced a lot of problems, especially last year when most of the cattle died due to lack of water,’ said James. ‘There are only seven, or maybe 70 [cattle left]. We don’t like counting cattle,’ he said explaining that in South Sudan herders are superstitious that if you start counting your cattle, one of them may end up dying.
Villagers use pickaxes and shovels to deepen Mabil pond. Some 316 members of the Ruar Leek community are working to expand the pond.
A man rubs ash on one of his family’s cattle in Ruar Leek village. ‘It is dangerous to move with the cattle from here to the riverside,’ said Simon Anyang Koryom, Ruar Leek village chief. ‘It is quite a bit of a distance, and along the way you can be ambushed and killed, or your cattle can be taken away. In the grazing grounds, there are also a lot of thieves.