Stories

The rain will pour; flood levels will rise:

Emergency response before the emergency

Flooding destroys one’s way of life. Planted crops are washed away—livelihoods, gone. Belongings—soiled in the water without means of moving with them. Homes—damaged or broken, and hazardous to live in. Each limits one’s access to basic resources; health care, clean water sources, long-term shelter, education, food security.

When emergencies arise, our in-country Emergency Response Team deploys. We assess the needs; we respond; we travel by boat, car, or foot—through muddy terrain, swamps, intense heat. We reach communities where others dare not go.

We are driven to respond.

Last year’s rainy season brought floods that displaced over one million people in South Sudan. Since May of this year, over half a million have been displaced¹.

Our emergency responses continue—and as we look at the past, we’re looking ahead.

With recurrent cycles of increasing flooding, the trend is expected to continue. The impact will continue to push women, children, families further from vital services. Recurrent displacement coupled with damaged homes and livelihoods, does not enable people to invest long-term—knowing they are likely to be displaced within six months’ time.

But what if one doesn’t have to rebuild? What if there was a means to equip people with resilient housing to mitigate the risk, before it inevitably arrives?

 

Flooded terrain in Jonglei State, South Sudan in November 2020.

 

Disaster risk reduction—responding to emergencies, before they happen.

The rain will pour; flood levels will rise. We will respond. And we also want people to have a home they can return to, that’s habitable after the rain subsides.

Together with the Structural Xploration Lab from Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), and University of Juba in South Sudan, we are seeking durable shelter solutions—resilient to the impacts of climate change— a step forward towards sustainability.

The beauty of this project is that, we do not know precisely what is to come from it.

We can improve materials, construction techniques and their assembly—we don’t yet know what will yield the largest impact.

Over the next two years, we look to create and implement lasting shelter change with design input from communities most affected by flooding, starting in South Sudan. Currently the project is under the research, design, and development phase and we hope to test a prototype on the ground next year.

The need is great; the project’s potential is greater.

 

 

¹World Food Programme. (2021, October). Country Office and regional bureau update # 1 – reliefweb.int. Country Office and Regional Bureau Update # 1 . Retrieved November 2, 2021, from https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/WFP-0000132920.pdf.


 

Medair South Sudan’s Emergency Response Shelter/Non-food Items Team is funded by UK aid from the UK government  and generous private donors.

This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organisation.