Flood disaster in the Sudan: Overview and assessment of current situation 23 Aug 2003

Originally published


Highlights of identified gaps:

  • Main challenge is access and assessment and provision of assistance to remaining difficult-to-reach flood affected areas
  • Urgent need to repair/replace latrines
  • An additional 50,000 mosquito nets required to meet identified need of 63,000
  • Large tents to be used for temporary classrooms
  • Immediate need for seeds, to allow replanting and catch-up on current growing season.
  • Many other states, including areas in Gezira, Gedarif, Unity, and White Nile States, in need of basic relief assistance


1. The purpose of this report is to provide the current status of the flood situation in Sudan, which began on 29 July, with a particular focus on the area of Kassala, as the hardest hit area. The success of the response to the flood situation to date is attributed to the hard work, dedication and successful partnership and cooperation between the National Government, in particular the Humanitarian Aid Commission, State Governments, UN Agencies, NGOs, and the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement. The active participation of these organisations in communicating and sharing information on their activities and findings throughout the crisis has been much appreciated, and an essential ingredient in compiling this report. The following provides a snapshot and analysis of the current situation, and identifying priority gaps and needs for the next several weeks.

2. When the flood disaster struck, operational agencies present in the Sudan reacted quickly by diverting their resources from other programmes to meet the new urgent needs. To minimise the impact on other programmes, donors are requested to replenish agency resources by continuing to contribute to the Flash Appeal. To date, of the USD 8.63 million requested by the UN and NGOs in the Flash Appeal launched on 11 August, USD 3.5 million is reported as having been received. However, dollar values for much of the in-kind assistance provided are not available, and are therefore not included in this figure. The Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement has been 85% funded, and GOAL has been 100% funded.

Overall analysis and main challenges

3. The flash flooding in NE Sudan, and in other western and central states, has been ongoing for three weeks. Impacts to the population have been significant and widespread, with major loss and damage to houses, property and large agricultural schemes, and eleven deaths reported to date. The most affected area has been Kassala Town, resulting from the Gash River overflowing its banks. As the primary responders, the Government of

Sudan, and the State Government of Kassala have mobilised considerable assistance and resources to manage the incident and to assist those in need. UN Agencies, the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement and NGOs also came to the immediate assistance of those affected, distributing a wide array of relief items and mobilizing cash and in-kind assistance to further meet the immediate needs.


4. Very early in the crisis, the Kassala Emergency Forum (KEF) was established locally as the primary coordination mechanism for managing the emergency, with sub-committees to address various sectoral needs. The KEF, facilitated by HAC, with representation from the State Government of Kassala, UN Agencies, NGOs and the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement (including SRC and IFRC) has proven to be an effective and efficient coordination mechanism for managing the crisis, with meetings held daily during the peak period of the emergency, and now reduced to 3 meetings a week, with additional meetings scheduled as needed.

5. While there have been varying reports of the actual number of affected persons, the working number agreed to by KEF is 74,000 people or 16,000 households, not taking into account those areas which remain to be assessed. The overall indication is that those in Kassala and the immediate vicinity are having their most of their basic needs met, and are receiving sufficient assistance, distribution of which is ongoing.

Main Challenges

6. It is widely agreed by humanitarian actors on the ground that things are well in hand in Kassala Town. However, the outstanding issue still to be addressed is the lack of knowledge of and subsequent lack of assistance being provided to those in areas that still remain inaccessible. This represents all outlying areas of the Gash Delta to the north and northwest of Kassala Town, with the exception of Hadalya and Aroma, which have been assessed and basic assistance provided.

7. Another main challenge continues to be the distribution of relief items, with stockpiles of many goods still remaining in warehouses and thereby not yet having reached the affected population. Distribution of many of these items continues and, in most cases, is expected to be complete, i.e. targets reached, within the next 7-10 days. A more detailed sectoral overview of the situation in Kassala follows.


7. As of 20 August, some 11,000 households have received some form of sheltering materials, either tents or plastic sheeting. This is approximately 69% coverage in distribution of shelter among the affected population. There are still stockpiles of tents, blankets and plastic sheeting at the warehouse. Distribution of shelter materials continues and is expected to be at a 100% of target within 7-8 days. Overall, there are no immediate gaps to be addressed within the context of the identified target population.


8. The operation of the water supply system does not seem to be a serious problem. The network is functioning at approximately 85% capacity with additional water being introduced and chlorinated. However, 15% of the Town of Kassala has never been connected to the main water supply, and though water is being brought in by tanker, there is still uncertainty as to whether sufficient water is available in those areas not connected to the main network. There is also concern that the main waterworks are on low ground that would be extremely vulnerable to additional flooding, an ongoing threat through to mid September.


9. A total of 2649 latrines have been damaged or completely destroyed, with 2053 requiring replacement and 547 requiring repair. To date, only about 200 of this critical need have been tackled. Overall, the work is progressing, but slowly. Garbage collection (including removal of dead animals), with 16 trucks, is operating at 100% capacity, a critical milestone for KEF. Exploring mechanisms for more rapidly addressing repair/replacement of the remaining latrines is essential.


10. Over the course of the emergency, treatment for all types of medical conditions has been delivered through hospitals, clinics and health centres. Cases of malaria and diarrhoea are of primary concern in a post-flood situation, and are being closely monitored. Other medical conditions encountered include respiratory problems, eye infections, skin irritation, dysentery, snake and scorpion bites, and cuts and wounds. Although there has been a rise in overall cases of malaria and diarrhoea, the numbers for malaria, in particular, are lower than initially reported, with only some 30% of reported cases having tested positive for malaria. There are no disease epidemics being reported as a result of the floods, as yet. The situation is being well managed at the present time, with disease trends remaining stable, but these should and will continue to be monitored closely.

11. The identified need for mosquito nets for malaria control is placed at 63,000, with 3000 distributed thus far, and an additional 10,000 in the warehouse to be distributed in coming days. A clear gap exists in the availability of mosquito nets relative to the identified need: an additional 50,000 nets are needed.

12. The main hospital is currently operating only as a health centre and will eventually be demolished, as a result of damage, and rebuilt post-emergency. There are other hospitals, clinics and health centres operating, but indications are that capacity has been insufficient to manage the number of patients. However, the number of patients received is decreasing rapidly as the crisis moves from the emergency to the recovery phase.

Food Aid

13. To date, 1000 MT of food has been distributed to 48,000 people. This represents approximately 65% of the target. Food will be distributed to another 26,000 people within the next 7 days, with enough stocks available in the warehouse. As a result, there are no immediate food gaps to be addressed, within the context of the identified target population.


14. In all, 83 schools have been destroyed, including damage to classrooms, loss of equipment, uniforms, workbooks, etc. Tents are being made available by the Government to be used as temporary classrooms, however these are considered too small for this purpose and larger tents are needed. Plastic sheeting and mats will be used to construct larger temporary classrooms, until larger tents are available. Classes will resume on 30 August, representing a ten-day delay in the normal opening date.

Livelihood: Agriculture

15. The area of Kassala is wholly dependent on agriculture as its source of income, with main crops consisting of onions, peanuts and cotton. The entire economy of the state depends on agriculture, including tax revenues for the State Government. The main growing season is from June to October. The floods have destroyed large areas of horticultural and agricultural schemes and, as a result, no seeds are available to allow farmers to catch up with the current growing season. Considerable loss of livestock is also a major concern and replacement will be a future recovery request. There is an urgent need for seeds to benefit from the remaining portion of the season from August to October. Identified need is 678 MT of sorghum seeds, 3 MT of onion seeds, and 12 MT seed for animal fodder.

Refugees and IDPs

16. Eritrean refugees are living both in camps and as integrated refugees in the Town of Kassala. The urban refugees have been included in the overall figures provided for Kassala Town. The situation of refugees and IDPs in camps outside Kassala is mostly unknown, with only very limited assessment having been conducted due to inaccessibility. The overall number of refugees living in camps in Kassala state is approximately 70,000. In addition to the refugee population, there are approximately 59,281 IDPs in Kassala state, located in 10 camps. Needs are expected to be food, plastic sheeting, and blankets.

Other Areas

17. There are many other areas that have been affected over the past weeks, namely large areas of Gezira, Gedarif, Sinnar and White Nile States, as well as Bentiu, in Unity State. While some assessment has been conducted in these areas, and some relief assistance provided, much less information is available for these locations than is the case for Kassala. A summary of the findings to date for each locality is found below.

18. Teams have, or are currently, undertaking health assessments in seven states under the leadership of the MoH. The primary focus has been on health assessment, but also addressing damage assessment in assigned areas. The assessment will cover the following areas: Northern, River Nile, Gezira, Gedaref, North Kordofan, White Nile and Sinnar States. Initial results are summarised below:

19. Gezira

Aug 19: Aerial assessment revealed widespread flooding of many villages, and crops throughout (OCHA). Umm-Al Qura area most affected, with damage to houses, water supply and health facilities in many villages. Al Managil area moderately affected with damaged houses, and impacted water supply in some areas. South Gezira area least affected with water entering villages but no serious damage to houses or other facilities.

20. Gedaref

15 Aug: Assessments made in the Fau area of Gedaref, south of Kassala State, indicate 1,343 families seriously affected with houses damaged or destroyed, 500 families partially affected, and 717 families still in the open without shelter. Other affected families are either in schools as temporary shelter, or staying with family Riwina, Garia and surrounding villages, are most affected.

16 Aug: Aerial assessment conducted to assess damage to agricultural/irrigation schemes. In Fau, the structural failure of main irrigation of main channel caused flooding to 70 sq. km of cropland and significant damage and flooding to the town. Extensive flooding and damage of crops visible throughout area assessed in Gedarif, due to excessive rain and failure of irrigation canals to cope. 20 Aug: El Fau: 3280 of 6000 affected with 85 houses seriously damaged, 450 houses partially damaged, and water supply impacts in a number of villages.

21. Sinnar

Aug 19: Aerial assessment revealed widespread flooding of crops and impacts to many villages.

22. Unity: Bentiu area

Aug 15: Daira/Kuer Mandoaka (278 houses with 1,782 inhabitants), Bangedar/El Zaha (603 houses with 3,185 inhabitants), El Ingaz/Khor Deb Dab (367 houses) A 150-person community-based campaign to drain water by opening outlets began in Bentiu on 12 August.

Final Conclusions & Message to Donors

1. To date, organisations and governments have generously provided assistance through cash contributions and/or as in-kind assistance. The contributions of governments and organisations follow. Please review the attached and provide any additions or corrections to the following e-mail address:

Cash (USD)
Arab League Cash
Egypt Two flights of relief assistance
Eritrea 6 truckloads of assistance incl, drugs, sugar, loader, water pumps, mosquito nets
France Cash and relief items including plastic sheets, mosquito nets, jerry cans
Germany Cash
Greece Cash and food, relief goods incl tents, sheets, blankets, drugs, bandages, insect repellents
Japan Tents, plastic sheeting, blankets, generators, water tanks
Jordan Aircraft with relief goods incl medical supplies, blankets tents, food, plastic sheeting, jerry cans
Lybia 6 aircraft of relief goods, with 3 more to come
Morocco Medicines, tents, blankets
Norway Cash
Qatar 125 MT of relief goods
Red Cross/Red Crescent Relief goods
Syria 36 MT of relief goods
United Kingdom Cash
United States Flights of relief goods including blankets, plastic sheeting, hygiene kits
* 3,503,519

*the chart takes into account cash, and the value of in-kind contributions where these are available, but is not comprehensive.

2. The situation in the Town of Kassala is improving daily and now quickly moving from the relief to the recovery phase. Most of the affected have received emergency shelter material, food and medical care, and have access to potable water. There are no disease epidemics, and cases of malaria and diarrhoea, and other medical conditions linked to the flooding, are on the decline and returning to normal levels. Although the picture is improving in Kassala, a number of other areas have been affected and a number of gaps remain that must be addressed. Outstanding priority areas are as follows:

3. In Kassala

  • Obtain access to those areas that remain inaccessible to identify immediate needs and provide assistance.
  • Rapid repair and replacement of latrines
  • Need for of an additional 50,000 mosquito nets for malaria control
  • Need for large tents to be used as temporary classrooms, and
  • Provision of seeds to allow farmers to replant to catch up on current growing season. Identified need is 678 MT of sorghum seeds, 3 MT of onion seeds, and 12 MT seed for animal fodder.

4. Other areas
  • Identification of needs and delivery of assistance to other areas including: Gezira, Gedaref, Sinnar, White Nile and Bentiu States

Donors are encouraged to consider these outstanding needs and continue to provide support and assistance through the existing Flash Appeal.

This report was prepared by the United Nations Disaster Assessment & Coordination (UNDAC) Team through the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), on behalf of the Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sudan

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