Worst Flooding In Sudan Causes Humanitarian Emergency

Arrival of USAID airlift of flood relief supplies in Khartoum Photo: IOM SUDAN/Lisa George

Sudan is facing its worst flooding in decades. Weeks of heavy rains have caused destruction, displacement and loss of lives, leading the government of Sudan to declare a three-month state of Emergency in the country.

To assist thousands affected by the floods roiling Sudan in recent weeks, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) joined the US Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance to airlift over 155 metric tons of urgently needed relief supplies to the country.

Three flights carrying relief supplies from USAID’s warehouses in Italy and the United Arab Emirates arrived here over the weekend (Sept 19). The cargo of life-saving supplies included 30,000 blankets, 30,000 water containers and 1,500 rolls of plastic sheeting. The supplies are intended to provide emergency shelter for at least 75,000 people.

The floods have affected more than 730,000 people, destroyed over 146,000 homes leaving thousands displaced. Nearly 100 people have been lost in floodwaters since the start of the rains in mid-July, according to the Government’s Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC).

“The historic floods have exacerbated an already deeply difficult time for the people of Sudan, amid economic crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. We quickly mobilized this airlift of relief supplies to help people in this time of great need”, said Helen Pataki, USAID Mission Director for Sudan.

Bernard Lami, IOM Deputy Chief of Mission added: “Sudan is facing multiple challenges, as we continue to fight on all fronts against COVID-19 and now flooding, IOM is scaling up efforts and will continue to work closely with partners to ensure aid is provided to help meet the urgent needs of those most affected. Relief items will be distributed quickly to reach those most affected.”

The relief supplies, which were offloaded on arrival to an IOM warehouse in Khartoum are being prepared and packaged into kits for ease of distribution.

“Each kit will comprise essential household items such as two blankets, two collapsible 10L jerry cans, and one 4m by 6m plastic tarpaulin for use as temporary building material for repairs or emergency shelter”, explains IOM’s Lami.

IOM in close coordination with partners, the Government of Sudan’s HAC, Flood Task force, Shelter and Non-Food Item Sector (NFI) of the humanitarian response in Sudan, and UN Agencies, will distribute the supplies.

Priority will be given to the areas of most urgent needs, including the states hardest hit of Khartoum, North Darfur and Sennar, which accounts for 43 per cent of affected people.

In addition, USAID and IOM also are activating the Rapid Response Fund (RRF), an emergency funding mechanism made available to international and national non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Sudan to further extend rapid delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance for flood-affected communities through the provision of critical emergency shelter, provision of relief items, clean water, improved sanitation and hygiene, and health services across the country.

IOM has been managing the fund since 2013.  This year, the RRF, funded by USAID allocated at least USD 2.05 million in emergency funding crucial to NGO partners to provide immediate life-saving assistance in response to these historic floods.

The government of Sudan has warned that heavy rains are anticipated in the coming few days in Sudan, which will likely lead to more flooding and further destruction.

Thousands of people will require urgent support such as shelter, non-food items, and water, sanitation and hygiene services, which are paramount to prevent the outbreak of disease.

IOM appeals to donors and the international community to provide more funds to increase response and lessen the gap in coverage in Sudan.

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