The White and Blue Nile rivers have reached record levels this year. Since mid-July, extraordinarily heavy seasonal rainfall and related flooding on the Nile banks have affected more than 800,000 people across Sudan. Locals point to increasingly unpredictable seasonal rains and indicate that although floods are a yearly challenge, the situation this year is historically critical.
Sudan is already going through a difficult post-revolution period with a transitional government in place mandated to bring about peace, through economic and social reforms, and meet the high expectations of a predominantly young population.
While straining under an economic crisis and the negative consequences of the global Covid-19 pandemic, especially for seasonal workers, the country now also faces the prospect of displacement and greater food insecurity due to crop failure as many prime agricultural lands have been flooded.
“In many areas, the region’s gentle topography has allowed the Nile to burst its banks and spread for kilometres through the densely populated river valley. While families desperately tried to keep the water away from their homes, the best solution consisted in building improvised dams made of thousands of sand-filled sacks,” says Pauline Tapin from the DRC Country Office in Sudan.
In August and September, DRC distributed sandbagging materials to affected communities around the capital, Khartoum, allowing residents to protect their shelter and assets.
Across the country, nearly 80,000 houses have been destroyed. Many more buildings may still collapse, as the foundations have been significantly weakened by the floodwaters.
Pauline Tapin, DRC Sudan
With so many homes rendered uninhabitable or still surrounded by water that may take weeks to recede thousands are now homeless, hosted in overcrowded areas without adequate shelter or sanitation. Latrines have been destroyed, contributing to risks of water-borne disease outbreaks. Some people are having to sleep outside, in particular, the young ones who have to leave space for elders in the houses or those tasked to protect assets left behind in flooded houses.
To date, DRC’s sandbagging interventions have reached 11,500 people in need. In addition to this, emergency shelter materials have been distributed to more than 1,000 households.
“But these primary needs - shelter, non-food items, water, sanitation, and hygiene - are expected to remain acute in the weeks and months ahead," says Pauline Tapin.
"Therefore, DRC is preparing to scale up its response to provide around 5,000 kits including emergency shelter, household essentials and hygiene supplies to immediately improve the living conditions of households affected by the floods.”
Present in Sudan since 2004, DRC was able to build on its strong community relationships to ensure timely delivery of critical emergency assistance, which has been made possible through the generous financial support of UKaid (FCDO, formerly DFID) and ECHO.