Chic African Culture Africa Factbook

Largest flood plains in Africa

Sudd Swamp three facts
Papyrus reeds which grow prolifically in the Sudd is a native plant of Africa
Sudd is the world's largest wetlands in the Nile basin
In the wet season, the Sudd covers an area nearly 1 1/2 times the size of Texas.

The Sudd is one of the largest flood plains in Africa

The Sudd is a huge swampy biological supermarket in South Sudan, formed by the White Nile, comprising more than 15% of the country's total area; it is one of the world's largest wetlands. The Sudd of South Sudan is a large swampy area of more than 38,610 sq miles or 100,000 sq km fed by the waters of the White Nile. The Sudd dominates the center of Africa’s newest country, South Sudan.

The Sudd is one of the largest flood plains in Africa, and one of the largest tropical wetlands in the world. The Sudd region has countless wetlands, a maze of channels, lakes, and swamps, and which receives water from the Bahr el Gazal River. 

One of the most extraordinary physical features of the Sudd is its flatness and the soils of the whole area are generally clayish and poor in nutrients. The idea behind the construction of the Jonglei Canal was to bypass the Sudd region and to direct a downstream a proportion of the water available for irrigation and other uses downstream in Sudan and Egypt.

The Jonglei Canal had been planned for construction in 1978 but work stopped in November 1983 because of civil war. When Sudan gained its independence in 1956, it was with the understanding that the southerners would be able to participate fully in the political system.

When the Arab Khartoum government reneged on its promises, a mutiny began that led to two prolonged periods of conflict from 1955-1972 and 1983-2005 in which possibly 2.5 million people died. 

The canal would have provided a straight channel for the Al-Jabal River to flow northward until its junction with the White Nile. However, the project would have drained the swamplands of the Sudd.
The Sudd wetlands provide fish and wildlife habitats, storing floodwaters and maintaining surface water flow during dry periods in South Sudan. 

The Sudd is also an important place for biodiversity because of an immense variety of species of microbes, plants, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, fish and mammals, some of which are only found in the region. The ecological issue today is if water is drained from the Sudd through the construction of the Jonglei Canal can serious or irreparable damage to the Sudd environment be avoided.

Despite its ecological importance, the Sudd has been a major obstacle to transportation and commerce in the region for centuries. The wetland is characterized by a dense growth of aquatic vegetation, including reeds, grasses, and papyrus, which makes navigation difficult and dangerous. The area is also prone to flooding during the rainy season, which further complicates transportation and agricultural activities.

Efforts have been made to clear the Sudd of vegetation and improve navigation, but these efforts have been largely unsuccessful due to the size and complexity of the wetland ecosystem. In recent years, there have been calls to protect the Sudd as a valuable ecological resource and to promote sustainable development in the region that takes into account the unique characteristics of the wetland.

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