Sudan floods appeal No. 21/99 final report


Period covered: August, 1999 - July, 2000

Unusually early and heavy rains resulted in severe flooding in eight states in Sudan, causing 36 deaths. The states affected were Khartoum, River Nile, Sinnar, Gezira, Northern state, Red Sea, Kassala and North Kordofan states. More than 20,000 houses were damaged or destroyed, leaving approximately 100,000 individuals in need of assistance. Water borne diseases and malaria were rife in all the affected states.

The Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS), supported by the Federation, initially intervened using available stockpiles to control the situation. However the magnitude of the disaster was much greater than expected and therefore an appeal was launched to provide medicines, food and shelter to the victims. The appeal sought CHF 1,216,000 for the following relief needs: 15,000 tarpaulins, 30,000 blankets and 20,000 jerrycans, 15 cholera kits, New Emergency Health Kits (NEHKs), supplementary drugs, 2,500 litrs of fenitrithion spray and 1,5001itrs of abate spray as well as the cost associated with capital equipment, transport, personnel and administration.

The appeal budget was later revised as a result of the late arrival of funds and transport constraints. The quantities of blankets, tarpaulins and chemicals were reduced, and the available funds were used to purchase supplementary drugs (in-country) and a field vehicle. The plan of action to achieve these objectives was divided into two phases:

  • first, to provide priority needs for the victims and to counter act the spread of water borne and infectious diseases;

  • second, to support efforts to improve co-ordination of planned assistance, mobilise and train volunteers, provide beneficiaries with emergency supplies and monitor ongoing operations and initiate disaster response as required.

Objectives, Achievements & Constraints

Following are the achievements and constraints of the operation:

Objective 1 To assist the most vulnerable victims in the eight affected states by providing shelter, malaria prevention and medical supplies.

Achievements: The SRCS and the Federation were able to provide tarpaulins and blankets to all states as well as fenitrithion/abate spray, cholera kits, and new emergency health kits. Although in-kind donations of blankets arrived late in the operation they proved to be useful during the winter season where some beneficiaries were still without shelter. Not all states were affected by the disaster to the same degree or at the same time and therefore the needs of the beneficiaries varied between the states. Gezira state, Khartoum state and Northern state were the hardest hit. See Annex 1 for details of quantities on non-food relief and medical relief received by each state.

Constraints: Late pledges and budget approvals caused delays in the procurement of goods. The SRCS and Federation were faced with logistical problems resulting in the late arrival of relief items to the beneficiaries - this was a major setback in the initial intervention phase.

Objective 2 To prevent the expected increase of morbidity and mortality of major child killers.

Achievements: Both preventative and curative measures took place in all the states. The most common child killers are acute respiratory infections, diarrhoea and malaria. Mobile clinics were established in most of the affected states (drug supplies permitting). 7 cholera kits, 5 NEHKs and supplementary drugs were distributed between the states. In-country supplies assisted in the swift provision of supplementary drugs once funds were secured.

Constraints: The late arrival of kits made it very difficult to control the outbreak of infectious diseases. It was not possible to set up the planned number of mobile clinics since the funds available were insufficient to purchase the necessary quantity of drugs to cover all states. By the time insecticides had reached the country the stagnant pools of water had dried out making the need somewhat redundant. It proved difficult to accurately measure the increase/decrease of morbidity and mortality rates due to the short length of the operation.

Objective 3 To build the capacities of SRCS staff and volunteers in responding efficiently to floods and other recurrent disaster situations.

Achievements: Volunteers in all the flood affected states were mobilised quickly, proving the effectiveness of previous DPP training workshops. The SRCS and the Federation organised a three day needs assessment and reporting workshop with 35 participants from all the flood affected states. Assistance was provided by the Regional Relief Co-ordinator based in Nairobi. Attempts were made to develop skills in both report writing and needs assessment techniques. The SRCS had a well co-ordinated approach to the disaster and worked efficiently with other organisations involved, resulting in UNICEF, INGOs and state government bodies channelled their assistance through the SRCS.

Constraints: Even though several smaller contributions arrived soon after the launch of the appeal, other major contributions were either late or earmarked. The SRCS's capacity to intervene in the initial stages of the operation were considerably hampered. Logistic and operational capabilities are of critical importance to emergencies, and ensuring that these functions were adequately organised to effective standards needs further assessment and emphasis. The capacities of the headquarters team were also severely stretched due to the involvement of eight states in the operation.


The floods seriously affected other programmes such as malaria control, disaster preparedness, and the water distribution programme in the displaced camps around Khartoum, and the Federation reallocated funds to support these activities. During the same period, a deteriorating situation in the Kassala camps also required additional support and a reallocation of funds.

This operation has demonstrated needs which later were highlighted in the report produced by the joint assessment mission which took place in Khartoum'. The incident of the floods in different states at different times proved that there is an obvious need to have flood risk maps and early warning systems in place. Uniform assessment mechanisms, methodologies and reporting formats are crucial to avoid conflicting results by different organisations working on the same disaster. Community coping strategies need to be further researched and incorporated into the DPP programme so that populations are prepared to adequately deal with disasters pending the arrival of international support and essential relief supplies. Although there has been good co-ordination between various organisations involved in the operation, proactive agency planning before the start of the season can further be developed.

It is evident that the availability of stock piles at the National Society warehouse was crucial for an early and effective intervention. Management and reporting skills need to be further developed prior to disasters so as to ensure that the volunteers and those working with the victims are well equipped at times of emergency. The obstacles faced were far from proportional to the size of the operation, and demonstrated the importance for in country-based donor representatives to be able to decide on and allocate donations at short notice.

A number of donations towards this appeal were reallocations from previous emergency appeals. In the end some of these funds remained unused and the Federation acknowledges the agreement of certain donors to transfer the remaining funds to other activities in Sudan to enable the accounts to be closed.

Peter Rees-Gildea
Head ai
Relationship Management Department

Bekele Geleta
Africa Department

This and other reports on Federation operations are available on the Federation's website:

(pdf* format)

* Get Adobe Acrobat Viewer (free)