In recent weeks, torrential monsoon rains have struck Sudan, raising the river Nile by 17.5 metres - the highest its waters have risen in 100 years. Ahead of the rainy season, emergency stocks had been prepared to cope with 250,000 people being impacted, but these stocks are fast-depleting due to the unforeseen amount of damage, and people urgently need emergency relief to cope with this unprecedented crisis.
So far, 650,000 people have been affected by the Sudan floods. The Government's Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) are warning that the coming days may see the water levels of the Blue Nile rise, causing even more flooding and destruction.
This article will focus mainly on how these floods are endangering the health of vulnerable families in Sudan.
Increased risk of malaria
Malaria is one of the main causes of death in Sudan, with 75% of the population at risk of developing malaria. Children are three times more likely to get malaria than adults. Those with the lowest income are also at higher risk, as it is difficult for them to afford simple preventative measures or treatment. Malaria is also more widespread in camps for refugees and internally displaced people.
There are two peak periods of malaria cases in Sudan: one during the rainy season and the other during the winter season. Mosquitoes breed in water and they are especially plentiful during the rainy season. With the unprecedented flooding this year, thousands of families are living or displaced near stagnant water, increasing the risk of malaria spreading.
Small children and pregnant women are the most at risk from malaria. With your support, our teams are working to prevent the spread of malaria in two ways:
Firstly, to prevent families getting bitten, we are distributing mosquito nets as part of our shelter kits. Sleeping under insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) on a regular basis is one of the most effective ways to protect people from malaria. But families living in poverty are unable to afford this basic measure, and with the severe floods destroying homes and livelihoods, even more families have been left without mosquito nets.
Secondly, our teams are also tackling the root of the problem by spraying insecticides on drying sources of stagnant water in three states: Khartoum, Al-Jazeera and White Nile. This is helping to control the mosquito population in flood-affected areas.
Impact of coronavirus
According to WHO, Sudan has more than 13,000 coronavirus infections, and over 830 people have died.
The ongoing pandemic has impacted vulnerable communities most of all, with families living on 'a knife's edge' (UNHCR), unable to earn a living due to coronavirus restrictions. The seasonal flooding is further endangering those who were already struggling: they have lost homes and possessions and are in dire need of basic items.
Moreover, the floods have destroyed thousands of latrines and contaminated water sources, meaning these families now have less protection from coronavirus. They are also at risk of waterborne diseases. Hygiene and sanitary levels have plummeted, and it is difficult to maintain even basic preventative measures like regular handwashing.
On top of this, health facilities have also been damaged by the floods, so if the spread of coronavirus and other illnesses increases, it will be difficult to contain and treat.
Our teams are responding to the risk of coronavirus and waterborne diseases in two ways.
Firstly, we are distributing hygiene kits in the Blue Nile states of Al-Jazeera and White Nile, as well as in the Khartoum state. These hygiene kits include basic items like PPE, hand sanitizers and soaps, ensuring families can protect themselves from the coronavirus during this crisis.
Secondly, we are providing basic food items to impacted families, as part of our family emergency packs. Since health facilities have been damaged, it is important to ensure immune systems remain strong and people are protected from malnutrition during this crisis.
Long-term impact : infrastructure, agriculture and livelihoods
17 out of 18 states in Sudan have been impacted by these severe floods. Over 190 public facilities have been damaged, including schools, health centres and government offices. Moreover, the infrastructure of over 100,000 homes has been damaged or destroyed, leading to mass displacement.
Livelihoods and food supplies have also been impacted. The floods damaged more than 350 shops and warehouses, and over 43,000 hectares of agricultural land have been flooded. More than 5,480 livestock have died.
With so much damage and destruction, it is essential that we keep vulnerable families healthy so they can recover from this crisis. Our teams are already on the ground distributing vital relief, but we need your help to reach even more survivors.
£100 can provide a Family Emergency Pack, which includes food, a shelter kit and a hygiene kit.
You can also donate any amount to the Floods Emergency Fund. Your donations can protect survivors from malaria, coronavirus and waterborne diseases.
Please note that all donations will go to the Emergency Fund, so our teams can allocate funds to where they are most needed on the ground.