National, News

MPs criticize minister over lack of climate change disaster response

By Bida Elly David


National Lawmakers criticized the National Minister of Environment and Forestry for not taking sufficient action to address the devastating floods that are worsening food insecurity across the country.

Minister Josephine Napwon faced tough questions on Tuesday when cabinet ministers appeared before the parliament following a recent summons regarding the growing hunger crisis.

MPs strongly criticized Minister Napwon, stating that her department has been inactive in implementing measures to mitigate climate change disasters in the country.

Stephen Bol, a lawmaker representing Mayom County, Unity State, criticized the environment minister for failing to curb the ongoing flooding that displaced much of the of the population in his state.

“Now the flooding has caused serious hunger as people cannot cultivate food for themselves,” he echoed.

He added that the environmental pollution caused by oil-producing companies has contributed to the deaths of animals.

He stated that President Salva Kiir has repeatedly talked of remedies to fight climate change issues across the country, but no action is being taken.

The lawmakers also slammed for the lack of environmental audits of most of the oil companies operating in South Sudan.

Mary Ayen, the first deputy speaker of the Council of State representing Ruweng Administrative Area, insisted that a clear report be tabled before the House concerning the stand of the Ministry of Environment.

“The IGAD weather centre gave a warning that between March and May, there will be heavy rains, and indeed we are witnessing this,” she said.

“I want the report of the committee of the environment under this house to point out how we are going to deal with flooding that is already affecting our population,” she added.

According to Ayen, flood-affected states across South Sudan are undergoing miserable situations.

“We have witnessed the situation of the people living there; in terms of their health, you could see women giving birth in water, and with this, the majority of the women in those areas have stopped giving birth, so this is a threat,” stated.

She further noted that the devastating floods have triggered insecurity across the country as displaced people struggle for resettlement in another area.

“When displaced populations from another community desert their place, there are issues with the host communities,” she said.

She urged the government, through the Ministry of Environment, to own the process of addressing the natural disaster.

“There are so many cases of diseases caused by climate change that the ministry should be empowered in such a way that the revenues collected can be used to address the issues of environmental pollution and flooding,” she emphasized.

In response, Josephine Napwon, the minister of environment, defended her ministry, saying they are currently battling financial constraints in facilitating the activities of the nation.

Despite the challenges, Napwon stated that her ministry has set up a platform to ensure the improvement of agricultural schemes for environmental management, but the allocated budget has never been released.

She underscored that her ministry has not been responsible for implementing some of the agricultural projects that come directly from donors.

She said they had started executing the exercise of environmental auditing since last year, but she passed the blame to the minister of petroleum.

“It is now one year that we have been doing the audit, the delay was because of the challenges we are also facing, and it is almost to the last stage,” she disclosed.

Napwon stressed that two companies have already finished their reports on the audit, saying they are left with one company yet to submit.

“The two companies that have finished their reports are supposed to come officially to the Ministry of Environment to determine whether they have followed the environmental guidelines,” she said.

According to the minister, most of the companies delayed the submission of their reports on claims that they had never been paid.

On the flooding, the minister said a series of memoranda have been tabled by the ministry concerning remedies to the catastrophes but taken for granted.

“We have the forecast of the rain; the rain is too much this year, and we know the consequences of the rain that will come,” she acknowledged.

The minister said the environmental hazard is not only affecting South Sudan; it is a global issue.

“In the previous speech of the president, the environment issue was included, but up to today, we did not even get a coin; there was an issue of dredging in the previous years,” she said.

“We, as the ministry, gave our inputs to the address of the president so that we could do an environmental impact and social survey, but we were not given the opportunity,” Napwon decried.




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