Unity State flooding mitigation is being politicised!
Updated: Jun 16
By Bachieng Chan and Merio Jimmy I am writing in my capacity as a resident of Unity State because I feel there is a need to think outside the box. I am sharing my opinion regarding misconceptions about the environmental implications regarding drainage in greater Unity State. I am aware many of us are “disciples of others” who are more concerned about what pleases our patrons than our communities. I, therefore, wish to remind us that developing conversations around our future has more benefits even though we may disagree on certain approaches. I appreciate those who differ from me but are open to listening from my perspective. My point of view is that the ongoing resistance to Naam dredging is more of a political agenda than an environmental issue. Resisting drainage in Bentiu has political rewards for other regions. Presently South Sudan is preparing for elections which will take place after a transitional period. It may be sooner than later. During this time, major preparations will include a census or general population survey to understand the demographic configurations of all states and counties. In the end, the figures collected will be useful for predicting winning candidates and will be used for the decision-making process after the election. The current flooding calamity is therefore good news for those who fear Unity State votes may cost them. Unity State will resister fewer votes because of inaccessibility and a low population count due to displacement. This will also mean fewer financial transfers after the election. Those of you who are readers of political sciences will be aware of the “gerrymandering effect” of this policy. Gerrymandering is a process of altering political boundaries by giving one political party a fair advantage over the rest. This will take the form of merging some counties to form one constituency due to a low population count. That will mean Unity State will not be a decisive region for candidates seeking political office, especially the presidency. A region which is not politically decisive does not have a say in national issues because no one cares whether you like them or not. What matters is whose votes count? Secondly, conflict in South Sudan is being structuralised to ensure Unity State continues to lag in socio-economic development. Johan Galtung, a Norweigian Peace Scholar would argue that structures of violence provide some communities with a partial view of reality. Many will be made to believe this is an environmental war between conservationists and those who are against it. Yet it is a structural form of conflict that ensure this region does not develop and enjoy economic prosperity. Our children will continue to miss national exams because there will be no transport and connectivity. We will make to travel long distances because our shortest route between Bentiu to Mayiendit and Panyijiar will be submerged with water. We will continue to rely on air transport which is expensive and risky. Most profitable business activities will take place in our neighbourhood such as Aneet and Yirol which will deprive our local council's tax revenues. What happens in the end? After all, we will be backward and continue to be manipulated due to a lack of economic independence. I, therefore, wish to remind you that we need to take those implications into consideration before we jump onto the bandwagon of pollical mimicry. There is no genuine environmental protection for those who are against the Naam River dredging.
Pastoralist in Bhar el Ghazal and Bor are taking their animals to the Equatoria region and tempering with farmlands and destroying forests. Is this not an environmental concern? Have you heard John Akech and Mabior Garang condemning illicit logging in Yei, and animal poaching in Western Equatoria? Why do you think Prof. John Akech and Mabior Garang are silent in Equatoria’s sponsored environmental degradation yet loud on Unity State? We all know the answer. “Some people's Interest” comes first!
Does our interest matter??? It would be great if we do not think as the” disciples of others”. Thank you,