South Sudan is a country at war with climate change. The world’s youngest country is battling ecological issues in the context of a man-made crisis of guns, blood and peacekeepers. This delays progress on multiple fronts, hindering agricultural production and disrupting livelihoods and community coping mechanisms, thus making defense against climate change more difficult.
Despite having no role in creating the new climate regime, South Sudan is highly vulnerable to its ramifications and least prepared for its current and future threats. According to the Climate Change Vulnerability Index 2017, South Sudan ranks among the five worst performing in the world, alongside the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Haiti and Liberia. Projections indicate that in South Sudan, climate change will be felt 2 ½ times more than the global average.
The majority of South Sudanese people depend on climate sensitive sectors, including agriculture, forestry resources and fisheries for their livelihood. As crops dwindle and food prices soar, resource-based conflicts over land-access for pastoral grazing increases the South Sudanese interpersonal conflict, often leading to famine, bloodshed and continued stress.
South Sudan needs a coordinated international response to climate change, access to technology and clean energy. With an average of 10 hours of sunshine per day year round, the country has the potential for stand-alone solar photovoltaic units and large-scale solar thermal generation. It is also highly important to protect the Sudd Wetlands, which are pivotal in regulating weather patterns in the Sahel, Horn of Africa and greater East Africa region. The Sudd acts as a barrier to the southward encroachment of the Sahara Desert, its preservation is consequently expected to be South Sudan’s most significant contribution to buffering against the ecological crisis impacts on a regional level. Millions of people in South Sudan are also suffering from the effects of climate change on the Nile, the world’s longest river, polluted and drained by booming populations.
Warning alarms of ecological mutations have led to global political action, of which South Sudan participates, as a signatory of the Paris Agreement. The global community cannot continue with its historic, racist disregard for South Sudanese life, however resilient they are in the face of extreme environmental risks and post-colonial trauma. The international community must ally with South Sudan in its grave war against the new climate regime.