This is Bentiu, a South Sudan nation that encompasses strange things. Here, you get to see many of its main roads are submerged, yet the traffic remains.
As the world’s newest nation, there are no cars, just people, some of whom swim, others wade, pushing their way through the heavy silt-laden water.
The more fortunate glide by on canoes with their livestock and whatever possessions they could salvage from the floods.
In this traffic, between the cities of Bentiu and Ding Ding, is a group of women, pushing to dislodge their makeshift raft that has become stuck in mud, weighed down by six children.
The men in the family would move back north to keep their cattle safe, and the women are left to push for four days in the hope of reaching higher ground.
At Bentiu, they have been ravaged by years of conflict, and there has barely been enough peacetime in the world’s newest nation to begin building. Only 200 kilometers of its roads are paved.
Now, South Sudan is dealing with floods that began as early as June and were made worse by the climate crisis, which it had little hand in creating.
This great flood, which is the worst in 60 years according to the UN, has swallowed not only the very roads that people here need to escape, but also their farms, homes and markets.
For years, South Sudan has been experiencing wetter-than-normal wet seasons, while its dry seasons are becoming even drier. The rainy season has ended, yet the water that has accumulated over months has yet to recede.
South Sudan is one of many places in the world struggling with this twin problem of drought followed by extreme rainfall, which together create prime conditions for devastating floods.
More than 850,000 people have been impacted by the floods, the UN agency coordinating the relief effort has said, and some 35,000 of them have been displaced.
Remote towns like Ding Ding now sit largely abandoned. The traditional straw roofs of many homes here peak above the waterline, their walls still submerged.
Strangely, some people searching for food here have resorted to eating the lilies that have started to sprout on the floodwater’s surface, as an entirely new ecosystem begins to form in this radically changed landscape.
It’s a grim picture for a country that is only 10 years old. After gaining independence from Sudan in 2011, just two and a half years later, South Sudan descended into a brutal civil war that only ended last year.
Deadly, inter-communal violence continues to be common as people fight over increasingly scarce grazing land.
South Sudan is no stranger to seasonal flooding, but officials in Unity State say they haven’t seen anything on this scale since the early 1960s.
Ninety percent of the state’s land has been affected by the flooding, and the next rainy season is only five months away. Officials in Bentiu say they are worried the situation will only get worse.
In this part of the world, it is notoriously difficult to measure with certainty because it has such huge variations in its natural climate to begin with.
Making projections for drought is particularly hard here, but what scientists do know is that the more the Earth warms, the more the Horn of Africa and its surrounding countries will experience extreme rainfall, making it more susceptible to flooding.
That’s largely because a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, which triggers more rain.
The world is already 1.2 degrees Celsius warmer than it was before it began industrializing, and Africa overall is seeing higher rises in temperature than the global average.
To those dealing with this problem in South Sudan, the climate crisis is clearly here already and offers the rest of the world a glimpse of what complications it could bring.
The country is feeling all the ills- including droughts, floods, food insecurity, intense storm, and etc. While droughts and floods may seem like polar opposites, they have more of a relationship than is obvious.
Bentiu is now thinking of how to clean up the mess, and how to adapt to better withstand these extreme weather disasters they are facing.
Like many nations suffering the worst impacts of the climate crisis, South Sudan accounts for 0.004% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Human activity in the country is also worsening the health of rivers and their capacity to hold water in during heavy rainfall.
Manyok said the country desperately needs to adapt.
The country is hoping to introduce technologies which are water friendly and efficient, and along the Nile, construct dams and remove the siltation.
Meanwhile, there is a close Town of Bentiu called Rubkona. Here, there is a market town close to Unity State’s capital Bentiu, which has been deserted. The business sectors and homes here sit ghostlike, lowered submerged that keeps on ascending at a lethargic, convoluted speed.