Thousands suffer in Sudan floods

Farmland destroyed and villagers at risk of disease after torrential rains.

Torrential rains and floods have made many
major roads in eastern Sudan unusable

Sudan’s worst floods in living memory have left hundreds of thousands of people short of food, while more than 30,000 homes have been washed away by torrential rains and overflowing rivers.

Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Adow travelled to the state of Kassala, 600km east of the capital Khartoum, one of the worst affected areas. 

Driven from their homes by floods, a food distribution centre just outside Kassala town is all some people have to rely on, and they are the lucky ones.

Many others have been marooned in isolated villages for several weeks and helicopters are the only means of reaching them. With their houses, croops and animals swept away, their suffering is enormous.

“The most devastating thing for an area like eastern Sudan has been the inundation of much of the farmland, and 650 wells have been completely destroyed, which is destroying their livelihoods,” Monique Thimburg, a United Nations official working in the area, told Al Jazeera.

Survivors of the floods have sought refuge on high grounds where they have erected temporary shelters. However no ground seems to be too high for the torrential rains that are pounding Sudan.

Pools of water around the shelters serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Adults and children alike are falling sick with malaria, cholera, and dengue fever, according to health authorities.

Homes swept away

In video

Watch Mohammed’s report

The floods might have receded in the village of Arabiya 7 but the suffering of the farmers continues unabated. Yusuf, a father of two, lost his house and his belongings in the floods.

“It was in the middle of the night and we were fast asleep when the floods swept through the village. We could not do anything and we continue to suffer with no much help coming our way,” he said.

Much of the infrastructure in eastern Sudan has been destroyed. Major roads have been reduced to quagmires, no vehicles can use them and animals struggle through the sticky mud.

The Sudanese civil defence agency said on Wednesday that at least 89 people had already lost their lives due to the flooding.

“Some drowned, some had their houses collapse,” he said, adding that others were electrocuted.

The River Gash burst its banks and flooded settlements around Kassala, creating mass displacement in the region. The water levels of the river, like many others, are rising once again as the torrential rains again pound Sudan and neighbouring Eritrea.

Rainy season

Aid agencies say they are bracing themselves for more problems as the rainy season continues.

“We expect at least another 270,000 people to be affected by the floods in the coming weeks,” Maurizio Giulliano, UN spokesman, told Al Jazeera.

Pools of water around shelters are breeding
grounds for disease-spreading mosquitoes

“We need money for the efforts for the efforts to help them and the UN will soon launch an appeal for more funds.”

However, many people believe that Sudan will have to make a long-term plan for the flood affected areas and their inhabitants.

A significant number of Sudanese live off the land as subsistence farmers and the crops have been destroyed.

“The floods caused severe damage to the agricultural sector and this will affect food security in many dimensions,” Wegdan Abdel Rahman, team leader for the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation in Kassala, said.

Fruit and vegetables may soon be in short supply in Kassala and neighbouring states.

“The farmers suffered heavy losses and many still cannot return to their farms,” Majzoub Abu Moussa, state agriculture minister, said.

Source : Al Jazeera

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