Sudan floods: 'We have to start from scratch'

2016-08-25 18:41

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Khartoum - For Sumaiya Haroun, 43, it was business as usual on Saturday. Her two sons were at school, her older daughter and ailing husband at home while Haroun embarked on her daily trip to Bahri's central market where she sells food.

When she returned home that day, her house, located in the middle of farms by the riverbank and made mostly with mud and bricks, had been reduced to a pile of crumbled walls by flooding. The scene was devastating.

"I cried when I saw the cupboard I bought with my savings broken into pieces and our clothes strewn out of it," said Haroun with her tearful eyes fixed on the ruins. "Our belongings, all of them, are now just a pile of garbage. We have to start from scratch," she said.

Like Haroun, thousands of Sudanese families were left homeless. According to the United Nations, the government estimates that more than 80 000 people have been affected by the flooding so far.

Two months of torrential rain and flooding have killed more than 110 people in Sudan - and more rain is forecast. More than 160 000 people have been affected and 14 000 houses were destroyed. Many have hardly the means to rebuild their lives.

Ali Hamdoun, a father of two girls aged three and five, says his house, located in southern Khartoum district by the White Nile River, had been flooded but was still standing.

"There was no thing I feared more than losing my daughters if the house collapsed during their sleep or while I was at work," he said adding that he sent his family to his parents' house two weeks ago. "A few days back, I toured the house with water up to my knees. I could repair some of the damage, I told myself, because we simply cannot afford to move to a new house."

‘Remaining vigilant’

Residents in Kassala, Sennar, South Kordofan, West Kordofan and North Darfur were most affected by the floods.

A report, recently issued by Sudan's Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC), an agency under the Ministry of Social Welfare, and the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, describes floods as being "common" in Sudan's rainy seasons.

The predominant types of floods are localised floods caused by exceptionally heavy rains, run-off (flash floods), widespread floods caused by overflow of the Nile, its tributaries, Gash River and other rivers.

In June, the government reactivated the Flood Task Force (FTF) at federal and state levels. The FTF includes representatives from the HAC, the Civil Defence Authority, the Sudanese Red Crescent Society and United Nations agencies.

"We conduct response and protection effort through building fortifications along the river Nile where there are residential areas," said Hashim Hussein Abd Al Majid, director of the Civil Defence Authority, an agency under the Ministry of Interior. "We also coordinate the effort of local popular volunteers," he added.

Several popular initiatives have mobilised volunteers to engage in distributing aid to affected areas in a phenomenon commonly known as Nafeer (collective call and delivery of help).

Aid groups say they remain vigilant since more rain is forecast.

Meanwhile, as Haroun continues to pick the little that remains from her destroyed house, she confirms that her family were offered a tarpaulin, flour, cooking oil, lentils, rice and sugar by the Sudanese Red Crescent. "I still have to pay my husband's medical bills, I have to make sure my children are fed and go to school. My head almost exploded as I was thinking of what to do and where to begin," she said.

"But we have to wait and see when the water will pull back to start thinking about what to do next."

Read more on:    sudan  |  weather  |  east africa  |  floods

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