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Mitigating Sudan from Flooding induced by Climate Change

The rain and flooding exceeded records set in 1946 and 1988, killing more than 100 people and forcing the government to declare a three-month state of emergency this week.

A committee tasked with dealing with the ramifications of the floods, last week warned that the country may face more rains, adding that the water level in the Blue Nile rose to a record 17.58 metres.

Some citizens were reluctant to leave their homes after braving many floods over the years. Moreover, with the water being knee high, or in some cases neck high, all were forced to abandon their houses.

The military deployed troops to help evacuate people and build barricades in Khartoum as well as distribute food, after flooding there cut roads and swept away houses and belongings. Access to clean water has become limited after the flooding destroyed 2,000 sources of clean water. Other utilities, such as electricity, are also experiencing unprecedented outages.

The floods have so far impacted more than half-a-million people and caused the total in at least 16 Sudanese states. The Interior Ministry said in a statement that the torrents and floods killed 103 people and injured 50 others. While 27,341 homes were destroyed by the floods, while 42,210 homes suffered partial damage, report noted.

Sudan’s inherent vulnerability to climate change is captured by the fact that food security is mainly determined by rainfall, particularly in rural areas where more than 65% of the population lives. The Nile regularly bursts its banks and farmers rely on the floodwaters to create fertile land, but the extent of this year’s flooding is very unusual.

Sudan Flood Affected people from 2013 to 2019

The flash floods also caused damage to 4,208 agricultural acres, 179 facilities, and 359 shops and warehouses, in addition to the death of 5,482 livestock. Farmers along the fertile banks of the Nile, the world’s longest river, depend on its annual floods.

The Humanitarian Aid Commission has been activated and is leading a national Flood Task Force to coordinate the response with all partners. The immediate need in Khartoum is to shore up the banks and provide shelter to those whose homes have been damaged or destroyed. The President of the Transitional Sovereignty Council Abdul-Fattah Al-Burhan has directed the establishment of special emergency rooms to arrange assistance for the flood-affected people and to provide for their needs.

The collapse of the Bout Earth Dam in Blue Nile state, after it exceeded its full capacity, risks compromising access to water for over 84,000 people living in its vicinity.

Sudan’s Khartoum, Blue Nile and River Nile states are among the hardest-hit, while damage has also been reported in the Gezira, Gadarif, West Kordofan and South Darfur regions, according to the United Nations.

Rising Nile floodwaters are threatening to swamp an ancient archaeological site in Sudan, after some of the highest ever recorded river levels.

The UN-designated World Heritage Site at al-Bajrawiya , which was the heartland of the ancient Kingdom of Kush, is normally 500m (550 yards) from the Nile.

The area, 200km (125 miles) north-east of the capital, Khartoum, is home to hundreds of archaeological relics.

They comprise of pyramids, temples, palaces, cemeteries and other places of interest that “testify to the wealth and power of the Kushite State”, a major power in the region for more than 1,000 years from the eighth Century BC, the UN’s cultural organisation, Unesco, says.

The authorities in Sudan are trying to protect the country’s ancient pyramids from flooding as heavy rains have caused the nearby River Nile to reach record-breaking levels.

Teams have set up sandbag walls and are pumping out water to prevent damage at the ruins of Al-Bajrawiya, once a royal city of the two-millennia-old Meroitic empire, Marc Maillot, head of the French Archaeological Unit in the Sudan Antiquities Service, said on Tuesday.

“The floods had never affected the site before,” Maillot said.

The area also includes the famous Meroe pyramids, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Meroe is an ancient city on the east bank of the River Nile about 200 km (125 miles) northeast of the capital Khartoum. It was the capital of the Kush dynasty that ruled from the early 6th century B.C.

The dispute over the GERD is part of a long-standing feud between Egypt and Sudan the downstream states on the one hand, and Ethiopia and the upstream riparians on the other over access to the Nile’s waters, which are considered a lifeline for millions of people living in Egypt and Sudan. Despite the intense disagreements, though, Ethiopia continues to move forward with the dam, arguing that the hydroelectric project will significantly improve livelihoods in the region more broadly.

This crisis begs the question of whether or not Sudan can continue to endure these yearly floods, and whether Sudan can withstand a potentially similar, or more serious flood, in the event of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam malfunctioning.

If anything, this crisis stresses the importance of Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia cooperating in order to ensure that a crisis of that proportion never happens to Sudan or Egypt in the future.

The government of Sudan has appealed to the international community for immediate response to mitigate the effects of the unfolding flood disasters. In view of the seriousness and the magnitude of the effects of the flood disaster, the international community is called upon to respond speedily.

 

 

 

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