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Torrential Rainfall and Floods in Sudan Leave 650,000 People in Despair

A man walks through flood waters in a muddy village.

All photos: CARE

All photos: CARE

People displaced by the heaviest flooding in over a century are now at greater risk of contracting COVID-19

Water. Muddy, mosquito-infested water, as far as the eye can see. A few chairs, some bags, a makeshift shelter of a few sticks and palm leaves. This is the living situation for countless families in the East African nation of Sudan. A disaster that doesn’t make headlines in a busy global news cycle.

The past weeks have seen unusually heavy rain fall and flooding in large parts of the country. The rainy season in the East African country usually starts in June and lasts until October. But this year, a record rainfall has been noted since mid-July and water levels of the Blue Nile are still expected to rise in the coming days. As of mid-September, over 111,000 houses have been severely damaged or destroyed, 17 out of 18 states are affected.

“People are literally left with nothing,” reports Tesfaye Hussein, CARE’s Coordinator for Public Health, Water and Sanitation. “They camp out in the open. We’re very concerned for women and young girls in these areas, there simply isn’t enough protection for them. They tend to bear the brunt of such disasters, fetching water from far away places, leaving out meals to feed their children or younger siblings.”

The devastating floods are paired with the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19. “People flee to higher grounds, but in congested areas, there’s a risk of COVID-19 infections. Testing capacities are low in Sudan, there are only about 13,500 recorded cases so far. But we know that the numbers are much higher,” says Tesfaye.

In addition to COVID-19, the floods increase the risk of other waterborne diseases such as malaria and cholera. “It is a race against time now given the high temperatures and large pools of dirty water,” says Tesfaye.

CARE has been working in Sudan since 1979. As part of the humanitarian community in Sudan, CARE takes part in disaster preparedness efforts. In total, stocks of relief items for 250,000 people have been prepositioned by the United Nations. But with over 650,000 people affected by the floods and the rainfalls continuing, stocks are running out.

With some initial funding through the European Union, CARE was able to rehabilitate, desludge and disinfect latrines. Heavy rains are forecasted for the next few days in Sudan and neighboring Ethiopia. This will increase water levels in the Blue Nile and again cause further flooding and destruction.
CARE seeks to scale up its emergency support for communities affected and is urgently calling for donations to help respond to this neglected disaster.

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