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Congo

A critical water source, and a biodiversity hotspot

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Imatong-Kidepo

Land

  • Quick Facts:

    Area

    181,900 hectares (702 square miles)

  • Key Landmarks

    Imatong Mountains

    Kinyeti River

    Kidepo Valley National Park


Overview

Where water is plentiful, life flourishes. South Sudan’s Imatong Mountains act as a critical water tower for most of the country’s eastern Equatoria State and neighboring Jonglei State. They provide water for multiple rivers, including the Kinyeti River, which connects the Imatongs and the Kud wetlands.

The mountain range is part of a transboundary landscape that reaches from Kidepo Valley National Park in Uganda into South Sudan. While most of the charismatic megafauna are no longer found in the mountains, the critical habitat remains intact and the area still holds significant biodiversity values. It is, for example, one of the richest bird areas in Africa. 

Tags: East Africa, South Sudan

Challenges

Access to water is scarce, and getting scarcer.

More than 30 percent of South Sudanese do not have access to water. In a country where 80 percent of the workforce is employed in agriculture, water is critical not only for health and hygiene, but also the majority of livelihoods.

Increasing deforestation, unsustainable land use, heavy soil erosion and river pollution jeopardize the flow of the Kinyeti River, making an already limited resource even harder to come by. These activities threaten both the communities that rely on the watershed for their water supply and the ecosystem’s wildlife populations.

Protectors of this critical habitat lack experience.

Currently, most of the individuals charged with protecting South Sudan’s biodiversity have little to no experience in wildlife conservation. Many of the rangers, for example, were previously soldiers in South Sudan’s civil war, and therefore lack the knowledge of conservation issues that is so important for success in their new role.

Solutions

Our solutions to safeguard this crucial water source.

  • Encourage sustainable resource consumption.

    After conducting baseline surveys to assess the ecosystem, AWF has started working with local communities to improve the management of the Imatong water tower. Participatory land-use planning and natural resource management, forest protection and the provision of sustainable agricultural livelihoods are all a part of this collaboration. These efforts will secure the long-term sustainability of the Imatong water tower and its ecosystem services. If successful, this work will also contribute to local economic development and security in Eastern Equatoria State.

  • Enhance the capacity of conservation staff.

    Recently, AWF conducted a training course on protected area management and leadership for wildlife rangers and forest guards in the Imatong Mountains, following an initial training session in April 2015. A total of 21 participants completed the eight-day course, which provided much-needed technical skills for monitoring the wellbeing of the ecosystem.

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