Published On: Tue, Aug 13th, 2013

Youth to the Rescue as Flooding Paralyzes Sudan

KHARTOUM — Thousands of Sudanese households were destroyed when heavy rains caused severe flooding during the first week of August, with Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, being hit the hardest. After the second round of flash flooding on 9 August, the death total in Khartoum rose from an estimated 8 to 38 people.

Over 14,000 homes housing some 72,500 people were flooded, according to the Nafeer youth initiative, a volunteer group established in Khartoum to support flood response operations. At least 950 homes in identified areas were completely destroyed, while 759 homes suffered partial collapse. However, many more neighbourhoods near Khartoum were submerged under water and completely inaccessible.

Springing into action after the first heavy rains

After the first onset of heavy rains, UNFPA Sudan established an emergency task force at the office level to establish a three-pronged response to the flooding affecting Khartoum. UNFPA worked closely with the Nafeer youth initiative who helped distribute 500 dignity kits (containing basic hygiene items), 1,000 clean delivery kits for pregnant women who may not be able to reach a health facility and 15 delivery kits for midwives.

Nafeer also helped UNFPA to establish a referral mechanism for pregnant women and emergency deliveries. “Visiting Nafeer’s centre of operations is the most energizing experience you can imagine,” says Pamela DeLargy, UNFPA’s Representative in Sudan. ” Young people have organized themselves in a remarkable way – the place is a buzz of activity and positive spirit and cooperation: a communications team, an inventory team, a finance team and an assessment team. Young people sorting and packing relief supplies and organizing data on the damage.” UNFPA also allocated three of its four-by-four vehicles and drivers to support Nafeer‘s data-collection team, which gathers information and assesses daily needs.

Young reinforcements and stockpiled supplies

Youth volunteers have been instrumental in identifying vulnerable people. Photo © Nafeer Sudan

In July, UNFPA collaborated with UNICEF and WHO, and with the High Council for Civil Defence of Sudan to assist the Ministry of Health to undertake several measures in the preparation of the rainy season and possible mass flooding. A special emergency stockpile was established to meet the demands of 500,000 people, containing emergency health items, including emergency medicine and equipment. UNFPA has therefore provided the Ministry of Health with dignity kits as well as clean delivery kits for distribution.

With more heavy rain on 9 August, reports of new flood-affected areas begin to emerge and require immediate response. UNFPA is therefore supporting Y-Peer leaders from Darfur and Blue Nile states, who have been extensively trained in humanitarian response and community organizing skills, to come to the capital this week to train its Y-Peer volunteers from Khartoum as well as Nafeer youth volunteers. This will ensure that the different youth teams can respond more rapidly and efficiently to the pressing needs of the vulnerable people in the flood-stricken areas, as well as how to involve the youth from the affected areas to organize themselves and assist their own communities.

“There’s a whirlwind of activity,” said Pamela Delargy,” I am proud to support young people and also proud that so many of our UNFPA Sudan staff are also  volunteering.”

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