South Sudan livestock alert

South Sudan livestock alert
Dec 2014

One year on from the outbreak of violence in South Sudan, the country has devolved into two worlds: the areas affected by conflict, mostly in Greater Upper Nile, and the areas less affected by it. As of December 2014, Greater Equatoria and parts of Greater Bahr el-Ghazal have shown good crop production, robust market functioning, and generally speaking minimal food insecurity.

However these areas are on the front line of a new crisis unfolding in slow motion: the unprecedented displacement of millions of cattle as a result of the conflict that began in December 2013. This has set in motion a number of dynamics that have seriously worsened the condition of livestock and livestock-dependent populations across the country. Most importantly, it has significantly disrupted the most critical element of the nation’s pastoral production system: the seasonal migration of livestock.

The disruption of livestock movement patterns has taken place on two levels:

  • First, there has been large-scale and long-distance displacement of livestock from the conflict-affected states into agricultural zones outside their traditional pastoral domains. Millions of heads of cattle have moved into Greater Equatoria, Greater Bahr el-Ghazal, and the northeastern tip of Upper Nile State in the last 12 months.
  • Second, the areas where these herds have relocated have witnessed intensive and continuous movements of livestock concentrated in small areas. The arrival of large numbers of livestock into mostly agricultural areas outside of their grazing areas has challenged the local power structures, squeezed natural resource availability, and altered disease patterns. As a result, tribal conflicts, cattle raids, and disease outbreaks have all intensified on an unprecedented scale, threatening the national herd and tearing at the social, political, and economic fabric of South Sudan.