Weeks of record flooding have prompted Sudan’s government to declare the entire country a national disaster area with 506,000 affected while rains continue to fall.
Rabat – Sudan has initiated a three-month state of emergency and declared the country a “national disaster zone” after historic floods. Heavy rainfall has caused the largest floods since measurements started a century ago, affecting half a million people.
The severity of the floods in Sudan surprised the government and humanitarian organizations on the ground despite some preparation the country made in advance.
Sudan and Ethiopia are bracing for further flooding as forecasts predict several more days of heavy rain. The Blue Nile, which flows from Lake Tana in Ethiopia through Sudan, has risen to dangerous levels, endangering local livelihoods, housing, and historic sites. The floods have ravaged over 500 square kilometers of land in the states of Khartoum, al Gezira, and White Nile.
Sudan’s Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) estimated that the floods have affected 506,000 people in 17 of Sudan’s 18 states. The country declared a state of emergency on September 4 which aims to boost governmental cooperation and prioritize disaster-relief efforts.
The state of Khartoum, where Sudan’s capital is located, has experienced the brunt of the floods. Flash floods in the state have forced 100,000 people out of their homes without food, water, shelter, or sanitation. At least nine people died in Khartoum’s sprawling “Open Area” informal refugee camps, including three children.
Thousands of homes have been destroyed as torrential rains caused Sudan’s rivers to flood beyond levels anticipated by the government. The floods have increased the risk of water-borne disease and have severely complicated Sudan’s ongoing COVID-19 measures. Stagnant water and overflowing drainage systems are likely to spread cholera, dengue fever, rift valley fever, and chikungunya virus, according to Reliefweb.
Initial forecasts had predicted floods and local actors had prepared supplies and shelters in advance. But the downpour exceeded anyone’s predictions.
The government of Sudan is working with the UN, NGOs, the private sector, and foreign actors to mitigate the consequences of the floods. Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar have already sent medical aid. One hundred tons of emergency shelter and supplies have arrived to attempt to fill the gap as the amount of people affected has already exceeded estimates, and more rain is still to come.