Roads to recovery

WFP constructed roads ease isolation in South Sudan’s north

Lucia briefly poses for a picture before continuing her journey. Photo: WFP/Gabriela Vivacqua

“Roads are the arteries through which the economy pulses.”

Today, thanks to WFP’s efforts, some 42 ‘choke-points’ have been cleared along the 65 km Maban to Banketa road. Along the expansive road, people recount the many ways roadworks have paved way for recovery and renewed possibilities.

A rehabilitated chokepoint along the Maban-Banketa road Photo: WFP/Gabriela Vivacqua

Why roads matter

A little perspective helps to digest the magnitude of the operation. South Sudan has a road network of over 20,000 kilometres, but only 200 kilometres are paved, a mere one percent. Decades of conflict and years of neglect have stunted infrastructure development in the country. Road travel is notoriously difficult. More than 60 percent of the country is inaccessible during the six-month long rainy season from June to November every year making access a constant challenge.

Economic spin-offs

The clearing of the roads heralded significant economic spin-offs for traders and residents alike. Traders can now transport supplies with ease. On the other hand, residents are relieved that the dust has settled, and the wildly inflated prices have now decreased.

Goods are now more affordable due to improved accessibility. Roadside stalls have mushroomed along the Banketa Maban bringing much needed goods at people’s doorsteps. Photos: WFP/Gabriela Vivacqua.

A new start

Riding on his camel, Mohamed Ali, a Sudanese trader who grew up in Banketa, recalls the night he thought the floods would wash away his possessions and livelihood.

For many traders, the camel, a water guzzler and resistant to the harsh desert conditions is not only a favoured mode of transport but can be the difference for nomads and traders in this part of the world. Photo: WFP/Gabriela Vivacqua
Displaced families find abandoned buildings in higher ground, repair and start rebuilding their lives. Photo: WFP/Gabriela Vivacqua

Responding to increased needs

As soon as the floods struck, WFP doubled-up and intensified its recovery response by meeting immediate needs and tackling the challenges at hand. With a year’s worth of rains falling in a week, Maban was completely cut-off, and business ground to a halt. A WFP 24 truck-convoy got stuck in Banketa. Unable to transport food by road, WFP was forced to resort to costly airdrops.

A chokepoint along the Maban Banketa road at the peak of the flood season. Photo: WFP/Babu Nicholas

Future plans

The 120-metre long bridge in Kwacjok has transformed the dynamics of transportation and trade in Lunyaker, Kwacjok and Kangi regions for long separated by the Jur River. Photo: WFP/Espinola Caribe

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