Months of heavy rains and flooding experienced across Sudan have left at least 100 people dead, destroyed livelihoods, and caused so much devastation. Official figures indicated that 730,000 people have been affected, nearly 60 percent of them children. The figures also estimate that more than 146,000 houses have been destroyed or damaged, including 179 public facilities such as health centres and schools.
In East Darfur state, one of World Vision operational areas, while the rains have now reduced and in some parts stopped, residents have been left counting their losses. An inter-agency assessment by the government agency- Humanitarian Aid Commission in East Darfur state, in coordination with UN agencies and World Vision, found that at least 1,625 homes were either damaged or destroyed by the heavy rains experienced in the region. Most houses in the community are temporary structures made from straw.
The fact-finding mission also confirmed that 3,253 households both in the refugee and host community are in urgent need of emergency support including non-food items. The mission’s findings also noted that the floods situation is aggravated by a poor drainage system, and in some instances a lack of one, considering the area's flat terrain.
At the Al Firdous refugee camp, hosting thousands of refugees (a majority from South Sudan who fled conflict in 2016), World Vision met some of the affected people. One of them, was 65-year-old Al Basha Abdurrahman, a father of eight children. He shared that the rains damaged a room in his house that was constructed with durable materials such as bricks and cement mixed with sand and a roof made from zinc.
“Other rooms made of straw were also affected but we managed to fix them because materials such as straw and bamboo sticks are affordable. It will however take the family forever to replace things like furniture.”
Al Basha, previously an employee in the State Ministry of Health is now a farmer. He urged: “The stagnant water you can see everywhere in Al Firdous has resulted in multiplication of swarms of mosquitoes and flies and we urge the government and humanitarian actors to accelerate efforts to support people of Al Firdous to prevent the potential outbreak of malaria, diarrhoea and the likes, especially among children”.
He also noted with concern the fact that the rains had damaged hundreds of latrines in his community, which could contribute to the rapid deterioration of the health situation unless there was urgent intervention. “While the latrines in my home have not been damaged, I really worry about the several latrines in these areas that have collapsed or been flooded, and the impact on the environment.” Al Basha pointed out.
World Vision also met 15-year-old Nisreen, a seventh grader. The heavy rains severely affected his household as well. When World Vision's East Darfur team visited Nisreen’s house, she was looking after her younger siblings while her parents worked on a farm, in a neighbouring village.
Nisreen spoke emotionally observing that the family lost most of their treasured belongings, including clothes and furniture. “We are now hosted by our neighbours and my father and mother are working hard so that they can reconstruct some parts of the house,” she explained.
For now, Nisreen spends most of her day under a tree near their damaged house, and in the night, she and her siblings sleep in a little hut allocated for them by their mother, “it’s very difficult to sleep at night because of mosquitoes,” she noted.
Despite their difficult situation, Nisreen still manages to carry out her household chores with enthusiasm, helping her mother with cooking, laundry, house cleaning and caring for her siblings.
World Vision also met 24-year-old Samah, who’s been forced to share a small space with her sister-in-law, as her house was damaged by the heavy rains and floods. “My relatives have been very helpful and they have made me feel comfortable,” Samah said. She however admitted that she felt guilty and embarrassed because of the extra burden she had put on the shoulders of her sister-in-law’s family.
Relatives have had to accommodate family members affected by the floods
Abakar, Samah’s husband explains that the rainfall caused damage to two latrines, and one room made of bricks and cement. He is surprised their hut made of straw wasn’t completely destroyed, but only surrounded by the flood waters. Now he is most concerned about mosquitoes finding their breeding grounds in the waters and causing malaria, and putting their children at greater risk. He and Samah have a one-year old son, Mohammed.
35-year-old Salwa, a refugee from South Sudan has been living in Al Firdous refugee camp since 2016 with her eight children, while her husband returned to South Sudan in search of work. When World Vision visited Salwa she was salvaging what was left from her extensively damaged shelter assisted by her children, sister and neighbours, hoping to begin rebuilding the family’s shelter.
“As you can see, we are doing what we can to put our lives back together. We are coming together with our neighbours, friends and relatives to support one another,” she noted, appealing for further support.
World Vision has launched a humanitarian response to reach 50,000 people affected by floods across all four of its operational states of East Darfur, Blue Nile, South Darfur and South Kordofan.
Story and photos by Gamal Ghallab, WV Sudan Communications Officer. Editing by Lucy Murunga.