Floods after drought threaten Sudan food security
Extensive flooding in northern Sudan has displaced tens of thousands of people, destroyed crops and aggravated already precarious food supplies in the affected areas, the UN food agency said Wednesday, August 22.
Heavy rains after two consecutive years of serious drought in the Blue Nile catchment area of the Ethiopian highlands have left many villages and settlements submerged. Water levels of the Nile are reportedly higher than in 1988 when the river burst its banks causing massive destruction.
The worst affected areas are northern and eastern parts along the Nile, including areas around the capital city Khartoum. South Darfur State has also suffered from flash floods due to torrential rains. Large numbers of inhabited islands on the Nile have been evacuated but several villages and towns remain isolated by the floods.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said that access to the affected population is difficult due to damage to main roads and bridges, causing a humanitarian crisis. The UN agency said international assistance was urgently needed to rescue stranded people and provide them with food, drinking water, medicines and other aid. Several areas are accessible only by air.
No full assessment of crop losses and agricultural damage is so far available, but preliminary indications point to significant crop and livestock losses. Overall prospects for the 2001 main-season grain crop, normally harvested from October, were already poor before the damage caused by floods.
A late start of the rainy season in parts of the country and the large number of population displacements due to the escalation of the civil war in southern Sudan resulted in a decline in plantings and potential yields. The losses and yield reductions caused by the floods are likely to worsen the already unfavorable harvest outlook, said the agency.
FAO expects the number of people in need of urgent food assistance, estimated at some three million earlier this year due to drought or war, to increase with the current floods.
Last year's drought affected mainly the states of Greater Darfur and Kordofan, Bahr Al-Ghazal, Bahr Al-Jebel, East Equatoria, Jonglei, Red Sea and Butana Province in Gazira State.
An assessment mission earlier this year estimated that Sudan would have to import 1.44 million tons of grain in the year since last November, of which 1.2 million tons was expected to be covered commercially while the remainder must be met by food aid. However, international food aid pledges have covered only a fraction of the requirements so far.
FAO and the World Food Program (WFP) will conduct a joint assessment mission to the country in October and November.
Kuwait flew a cargo plane loaded with humanitarian aid to Sudan on Wednesday, August 22, to help victims of the extensive flooding in the north of the country, the official KUNA news agency reported.
The aid, which was dispatched by Hercules C-130 transporter on the orders of Emir Sheikh Jabar Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, included tents, drugs, first aid kits and food supplies, KUNA said.
Kuwait's charge d'affaires in Khartoum, Fahd Ahmad Al-Awadhi, said Tuesday that a second cargo of drugs, medical aid, insecticides and tents is expected in Sudan on Saturday. ― (AFP, Rome, Kuwait City)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)