Forgotten crises: flooding in the Sudan

several men, some wearing high-visibility vests, sit in a boat travelling through flooded streets. In the background, we see a number of people, another boat and piles of sandbags.

The Sudan witnessed its worst floods for 30 years in the summer of 2020, © UNICEF

19.11.2020 - Article

Since the overthrow of Sudanese dictator Omar al‑Bashir, the country has experienced a spirit of optimism. However, millions of people are still in need of humanitarian assistance, a state of affairs that was exacerbated by wide-scale flooding in the summer.

Germany is supporting a UNICEF project for reconstruction following the flooding. The Sudan recently made headlines primarily for political reasons. Omar al‑Bashir was ousted after 30 years thanks to peaceful protests, and the country is undergoing a transition process that gives grounds for hope. The humanitarian situation in which large sections of the population find themselves is often less well documented, and the EU has defined the situation as a forgotten crisis.

Worst flooding in 30 years

In the summer, the country was hit by the worst flooding in over 30 years. At 17.5 m, the Blue Nile reached its highest level in a century. Almost 900,000 people were affected and 155 lives lost.

The Sudan undergoes extreme weather events every year, and the Blue Nile also regularly bursts its banks. However, this year’s floods have been devastating, and their impacts are part of a complex crisis situation. Even prior to this, about a quarter of the Sudanese population was at risk of famine. The conflict in neighbouring Ethiopia between the central government and the province of Tigray is now giving rise to flows of refugees, and thousands of people are heading to the Sudan in search of refuge.

Preventing malaria and cholera, rebuilding infrastructure

After the floods, the main priority is reconstruction. The flooding has destroyed important infrastructure. For example, a dam has been breached, and thousands of people no longer have access to drinking water. Flooded fields have also led to widespread crop failures while prices for basic foodstuffs have skyrocketed. In addition, diseases such as malaria and cholera, which can spread due to high water levels and lack of drinking water, must be prevented.

The Federal Foreign Office is supporting a UNICEF project to the tune of two million euro, which the organisation used in order to respond swiftly to the flooding in the summer. UNICEF is providing food and rebuilding a drinking water supply in many places by installing solar-powered water pumps or repairing old pumps. Children suffering from malnutrition are receiving targeted medical care. In addition, hygiene advisors are trained to prevent the spread of diseases – including COVID‑19.

Supporting the political process: the Sudan Partnership Conference

Germany is supporting the country in the humanitarian field and is assisting its interim government during the transition process. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was the first non‑African politician to meet the Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, in Khartoum.

In June 2020, Germany, together with UN Secretary-General António Guterres, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell and the Sudanese Government, hosted the Sudan Partnership Conference, which was attended by more than 50 delegations and at which, in addition to political support, 1.8 billion US dollars of financial support were mobilised.


Top of page