Bentiu, South Sudan As Seen From Orbit

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
October 16, 2023
Filed under ,
Bentiu, South Sudan As Seen From Orbit

The landscape around the city of Bentiu in South Sudan is featured in this Copernicus Sentinel-2 image.

The majority of the people in South Sudan live in rural areas and rely on farming, fishing or herding for food and income. The country has always experienced a degree of seasonal flooding, which normally recedes in the dry season. However, four consecutive years of incessant flooding have submerged villages, farmlands and roads. In 2023, flood waters reached almost 2 metres in some places.

This false-colour image, captured in January 2023, clearly shows the extent of the flooded areas around Bentiu. Information from the mission’s near-infrared channel was used to process this image so water bodies appear in dark blue or black. Sediment in the waters is bright blue, while the vibrant shades of red, mainly bordering rivers, denote vegetation.

The yellowish area in the centre of the image is the city of Bentiu. It stands out like an island surrounded by floods. Bentiu lies on the southern bank of the Bahr el-Ghazal River, which separates the city from the town of Rubkona on the opposite bank. Zooming in, the El Salaam Bridge can be seen spanning the river and connecting the two cities. The square structure just north of Rubkona is the Bentiu IDP refugee camp, where many people found shelter after losing their homes in the floods.

These dry lands and some roads, visible as light green straight lines, now lie below the waterline, hemmed in by dikes that have been built to protect them from inundation.

From Bentiu, the Bahr el-Ghazal River meanders through the inundated floodplain in a northeasterly direction. It can be traced in black in the right of the image flowing through Lake No into the White Nile.

Fed by the White Nile, the large, swampy area running from the centre of the image to the bottom right is the Sudd. It is a network of channels, lakes and swamps and one of Africa’s largest floodplains, providing watering and feeding grounds for many endemic mammals and birds, as well as for large populations of migratory species.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.