Read the full profile
Environment and health
South Sudan's environment is stressed by unregulated exploitation of natural resources and extraction of oil, as well as pressure exerted by large numbers of returnees. Soil degradation exists due to unsustainable and expanding agriculture (AfDB, 2013), and in particular wetlands and swamps are drained for oil exploitation or agriculture (GoSS and UNDP, 2012). But the most critical environmental concern is related to the water resources and their management.
Water levels in rivers are decreasing due to increased erosion and siltation caused by land use changes and overexploitation: forest clearing, over-grazing and fires (USAID, 2012). Former permanent rivers became seasonal in the last decade, especially the rivers along the border with the Central African Republic: Lol, Jur, Gal and Peyia rivers. Drop of the groundwater table is also observed in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State. Decreasing rainfall, attributed both to local environmental changes and climate change, might also explains those groundwater level drops (AfDB, 2013).
There are some punctual salinity issues in groundwater quality around Malakal and isolated villages (WB, 2011), as well as water pollution from oil industrial wastes in Unity and Upper Nile states. However, the main pollution is caused by the lack of improved sanitation (with only 9 percent of the population having improved sanitation facilitation in 2012) as well as the absence of collection and treatment of wastewater. Most domestic wastewater and untreated excreta are carried directly into rivers and boreholes, polluting both surface water and groundwater, often used directly by the population for drinking and cooking. Discharged water contains fecal coliforms, causing water-borne diseases. As a result, an outbreak of cholera prevailed in Juba in 2006 for a year (JICA, 2007). But also industrial wastewater is discharged directly into the Nile river, such as in Malakal from an electricity power plant (AfDB, 2013).