Drinking rain water to survive in South Kordofan

Publié: 1 juillet 2011 15:45 CET

By Faye Callaghan in Sudan

The recent violence in the Sudanese state of South Kordofan has left almost 58,000 people displaced according to assessments by the Sudanese Red Crescent. The security situation appears to be stabilising but humanitarian needs remain, particularly where people are located in areas with limited hygiene facilities and poor access to safe drinking water and food.

“People are still in a state of shock, still traumatized by the sudden onset of events, and many are dealing with missing family members, people injured or sick,” said Kamal Dibio Zayid, Sudanese Red Crescent South Kordofan emergency disaster preparedness response coordinator.

Some of the displaced people have found shelter in schools but many are sleeping in the open. The onset of the rainy season means more shelter materials need to be distributed. “We are working to provide everyone with shelter since it is raining a lot,” said Kamal Dibio Zayid.

In the town of Talodi, where up to 13,000 people have taken refuge, rain is being collected as the only source of drinking water. Pumps are desperately needed to provide a more reliable and safe source; over 1000 people have already been treated in the local clinic for diarrhoea, dysentery or malaria.

In some areas wells exist but people are afraid to travel long distances to collect water because of the insecurity and risk of stumbling into a minefield. To make the situation worse, it is feared that when people return home they may find their wells and pumps destroyed by the fighting.

Kamal Dibio Zayid said: “People are now coming back and are searching for their belongings and collecting what is left from their battered houses. Most properties have been looted. If the houses are intact they have been stripped of anything of value. Some people have lost everything.”

Working despite the rains

600 Sudanese Red Crescent volunteers are working long shifts to provide first aid, psychosocial support, and distribution of food and shelter items. Their work is hampered by heavy rains and poor security along the roads to places where people have fled.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) plans to launch an appeal to raise funds to support the actions of the Sudanese Red Crescent.

“The Sudanese Red Crescent is the only humanitarian organisation able to operate in all localities in this part of Sudan,” said Dietrich Fischer, IFRC representative in Sudan. “The funding from the appeal will enable us to provide life saving food and water while also ensuring we are ready to respond quickly if the situation changes or needs arise in other states.”

As people start to return home, many will find they have little of the livelihoods left. “The biggest loss is the plundering of their stocks of seeds. The people of South Kordofan are all farmers and depend on their harvest for their livelihood,” said Kamal Dibio Zayid. “Their priority now is to catch the rainy season, which has already started, to plant their seeds. Their livelihood may be lost.”