Sudan: 250,000 children impacted by flooding as the Nile records highest water levels in over a century
Seven weeks of torrential rain and flooding are wreaking havoc in Sudan, affecting around 250,000 children across the country and killing nearly 100 people. With rain forecast to continue, children are in urgent need of food, clean water, healthcare, and shelter to prevent a public health crisis unfolding, Save the Children warned today.
The relentless rains have caused the Nile’s water-levels to dangerously surge to more than 17 metres – the highest recorded in more than a century. Sudan’s Capital Khartoum, North Darfur, Sennar, and West Kordofan states are among the hardest hit, with widespread damage reported in 17 of the country’s 18 states, prompting the government to declare a State of Emergency.
Flooding presents a myriad of risks for children who risk being separated from their families in the chaos of sudden displacement, exposing them to abuse and exploitation, and being deprived of their basic needs like shelter, food and clean water.
"The water came from the Nile - one wall of the house fell, and it almost broke my brother’s leg. We tried to build barriers, but the water kept coming. 11-year-oldAbubaida, from Khartoum, I used to play with my friends before the floods - but now all we do is build barriers all day and it is hard to play in the water, I wish the water would go back.”
Families are at heightened risk of COVID-19 as clean water becomes scarce, latrines flood, and sanitation systems break-down. It is estimated that 100,000 people may lose access to clean drinking water as dams become overwhelmed and water sources are contaminated. Water-borne diseases will also be rife in flood-affected areas – but families will struggle to receive healthcare if they fall ill, as almost 2,700 health facilities have been damaged or destroyed.
“When our house first collapsed, we lived with our neighbours before tents arrived. My life is really hard here - we struggle to get food, water or even sleep, and there is no clean drinking water. We need our houses to be rebuilt. I am telling everyone living next to the river to leave and start moving their furniture out of their houses, so they do not suffer like us” Says Alas*, 15, from Khartoum.
Just as children should be returning to the classroom following COVID-19 lockdown and summer holidays, dozens of schools have been destroyed and others are being used as shelters for families who have been forced from their homes.
“Families in Sudan were already struggling to survive the worst hunger crisis in more than a decade – and now they are facing rising floodwaters. They have seen their homes and belongings wash away, leaving people in desperate need of food and shelter. Now, the threat of COVID-19 and other diseases stalk flood-affected communities, jeopardising all efforts to contain the outbreak and protect families.”, Said Arshad Malik, Sudan’s Country Director for Save the Children.
“Rain is set to continue until October at least, making a desperate situation even worse. We’re extremely worried that the flooding will compound the ongoing hunger crisis, as crops are destroyed, and livestock perish. Without urgent support, families will struggle to recover in the long-term.”, Continued Malik.
Save the Children has been working in Sudan since 1984 providing education, health, food, and nutrition services to vulnerable children and their families. In response to the floods, Save the Children is supporting almost 40,000 children and their family members with primary healthcare and referrals for further medical treatment. The organisation is also distributing essential items such as water purification supplies and hygiene kits to families who lost everything in the floods.
Save the Children is a leading agency on the coronavirus response in Sudan, providing support such as the rehabilitation and establishment of COVID-19 isolation centres, the provision of medical supplies, and supporting Ministry of Health staff.
Notes to editors
- UN OCHA is reporting that more than 506,000 people have been affected by the flooding. As just over half of Sudan’s population is children (51%), this means that just over 250,000 children are affected by this disaster.
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