Two weeks of downpours and flash floods left a path of destruction in their wake across six Sudanese states, with Khartoum being worst hit. More than 21,000 homes were destroyed. A young mother of five, Khadim Alla Abd Alrahman, described a heavy storm on the 26th of August as the worst and most terrifying. The rain poured incessantly for six straight hours rising to 71mm.
“It was one of the most terrifying days of our lives. Our house and virtually everything in it was swept away. All we have are these few shelter materials provided by the Red Crescent”, said Khadim Alla.
Khadim Alla, was living in the shanty areas of Suba Alaradi in the Khartoum state. With little left to salvage, she had to trek miles to reach a Sudanese Red Crescent distribution site in the area. Her expression was that of uncertainty as she tried to comprehend what lay ahead for her young family. More than 3,000 families were each given a relief kit consisting of tarpaulin, mattress, clothes, kitchen set, blankets and jerry cans.
During the rains 20 people lost their lives and 30 others were injured. Some 14,000 houses were completely destroyed while 8,500 others were left uninhabitable. The region’s infrastructure including schools, hospitals and other public buildings were also seriously damaged by the floods.
Most of the affected populations were living in temporary settlements with poor drainage systems and structures that could not withstand the force of rushing waters. Residents were left with no clean drinking water after contaminated sewer water from collapsed latrines made its way into the few safe boreholes in the area.
The rates of malaria infections increased with up to 200 patients being admitted daily in the Red Crescent’s mobile clinics.
Volunteers in action
The Sudanese Red Crescent deployed emergency response teams of some 450 volunteers who carried out assessments in the worst hit areas, assisted in distribution of relief articles and helped in delivery of other essential services. Their initial action was made possible by an allocation of 244,000 Swiss francs from IFRC’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF).
Some 3,000 families received tarpaulins, mattresses, clothes, kitchen sets, blankets and jerry cans made available by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Parcels of food were delivered to an additional 3,000 families in the Alfateh area in Umdurman North.
“We will distribute similar packages to a total of 6,000 families in Suba Alaradi region in collaboration with Catholic Relief Services,” says Hisham Tajeddin, of the Sudanese Red Crescent.
Donor help urgently needed
Since the onset of the floods, the Sudanese Red Crescent took a leading role in the implementation hygiene promotion and sanitation activities together with a number of civil society organizations in the greater Umdurman state. Volunteers sensitized residents in the region on good hygiene and sanitation practices as well as safe water use to avoid the spread of water borne diseases. More volunteers were also mobilized to educate residents on keeping malaria at bay through activities such as draining of stagnant water and vector control.
“The safety of thousands of people is directly dependent on the rapidity of the response to our emergency appeal,” says Dr. Dietrich Ficher, Head of IFRC’s delegation in Khartoum.
The IFRC has launched a flood emergency appeal for 2,500,000 Swiss francs, with the overall objective to enable the Sudanese Red Crescent to provide assistance to 10,000 families affected by floods in seven localities in Khartoum for the next three months. The appeal will cover distribution of emergency shelter and materials and other non food items, health care, water and sanitation interventions.