CHARITY workers delivering Scottish Government funded aid to families in South Sudan have told of their shock at the scale of suffering.

The flood-hit communities are struggling to find enough to eat, with water lilies sometimes the only food source they can find.

In the country as a whole, flooding has worsened the existing food security crisis and more than seven million people – 60% of the population – are estimated to be going hungry. More than two million people are at risk of famine.

In October, the Scottish Government announced £120,500 from its Humanitarian Emergency Fund would go to Christian Aid to support those most in need in four areas of Unity State, where around 90% of the land was submerged at the peak of the flooding with many areas still only accessible by boat.

The extreme weather, fuelled by climate change, has destroyed crops and homes across South Sudan, forcing many to flee to temporary shelters. Intercommunal conflict and Covid-19 are added challenges at this time.

Through Christian Aid’s local partner Unidor, the humanitarian funding is supporting more than 4000 vulnerable families. The cash is being used for emergency seeds, tools, fishing nets and cash grants. In addition, Covid-19 awareness-raising forms part of the project.

Mum Nyaneng Khol Kulang said she was being forced to make flour from water lily bulbs.

“We feed on water lily because we have nothing to eat,” she said. “Snakes also attack us, like anaconda and other dangerous snakes. From morning until the evening I collect water lilies for the family.”

James Wani, Christian Aid’s country manager in South Sudan, said the last few months had been “hugely challenging”.

“My colleagues who have been involved in delivering this Scottish Government funded aid to some of those most vulnerable can’t believe the scale of what they have witnessed,” he said.

“The intensity of the flooding really has destroyed everything: livestock, crops and livelihoods. Access to Unity State is difficult but we are pleased to report that this Scottish Government funded assistance is supporting more than 4000 vulnerable families.”

He added that it should not be forgotten climate change was playing a huge part in the extreme weather events experienced in South Sudan.

“Stories from those on the frontline of the climate crisis, like those living in Unity State, were told during the UN climate conference in Glasgow just three months ago,” said Wani. “We need to keep telling these stories, as they are not going away.

“We thank the Scottish Government for recognising the level of need in this part of South Sudan.”

Luny Machar is a disabled man who is being helped through the fund. He said life for his family had been very challenging, as the flood water had destroyed their crops and his children can’t attend school.

“What I need most is food because we have nothing to eat – this is our biggest challenge, I cannot afford to get food for my family,” he said. “I really appreciate this small support of money because I wasn’t expecting it.”

According to the recently published World Food Programme’s Hunger Hotspots report, South Sudan remains a country of high concern in 2022.