Flooded with Hope

UNICEF gives aid to flood victims in East Darfur

Khamisa Mohamed
Woman holding her baby in pool of water next to house
27 September 2020

Deadly floods and torrential rains have devastated Sudan including East Darfur, causing catastrophic consequences for families and children, prompting the government to declare a nation-wide state of emergency for three months and postpone the school year. As houses were submerged under water, hundreds of people were forced to relocate to higher ground, and some took shelter at a school. Located in El Firdous locality (one of the hardest hit localities), that the school is actually the only dry piece of land left in the area.

The floods presented a huge challenge for government and humanitarian actors and happened while the state is also experiencing the Covid-19 pandemic and the dire economic situation. With roads flooded, up to two metres in some areas, latrines collapsing, the threat of water and vector borne disease is very high and will hamper efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19.

In some area’s families are taking shelter with relatives, causing overcrowding and further increasing the risk of communicable diseases.

Vulnerable groups such as the children, women, especially pregnant women and those who had recently given birth were living in the low-lying areas when flood hit and were less able to reach the lifesaving services and support, they desperately needed. Vulnerable host communities were caught off guard as floods raided their areas overnight.

Girls in East Darfur holding hygiene supplies

Assessing and Responding

UNICEF and other partners carried out a joint assessment which provided a detailed mapping of humanitarian need and damage to infrastructure and locations, a total of 1,153 Households representing a population of 5,765 individuals are being targeted for Eldaein locality. While for Elferodus is 3,253 households representing 16,265 individuals with dire needs.

Before the severe flooding started in East Darfur State vulnerable people needed humanitarian assistance. This number is likely to increase due to further rains are expected,  More urgent needs, which should be taken into consideration in the response to these floods, include providing affected vulnerable families with emergency plastic sheets tarpaulins, WASH lifesaving items, providing safe water rehabilitation and construction of emergency latrines , disinfection and hygiene promotion activities with  distribution of long lasting treated mosquito nets (ILITNS) and  rehabilitation of schools, soon there will be a food emergency, because crops have been destroyed.

UNICEF with its implementing partners Water Environmental & Sanitation and State Ministry of Health & Social Welfare are improving water facilities, ensuring clean drinking water for affected households as well providing plastic slabs for latrines rehabilitation, implementing hygiene promotion sessions and distributing WASH lifesaving items (Soap) to guarantee minimum hygiene standards and to avert possible outbreak of diseases.

Securing access to water and sanitation facilities was complemented by hygiene promotion campaigns and the distribution of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs). UNICEF partnered with State Ministry of Health to raise emergency flood hygiene promotion and malaria awareness campaigns on understanding of disease prevention. In total, 10,800 individual people were targeted in the education campaign. Information Education Materials (ICE) Leaflets were distributed widely explaining how cholera and malaria is spread and how to prevent infection and how to hang and use the bed nets.

The tragedy of the floods provided UNICEF with an opportunity to help and assist the vulnerable people in their hour of need to distribute emergency relief supplies. Through a swift and successful multisectoral emergency response, UNICEF mounted large scale efforts to control cholera and malaria outbreak. With contingency measures in place, emergency relief supplies that were pre-positioned before onset of the flood season as part of the going disaster mitigation and preparedness activities, UNICEF was able to prevent further distress.

UNICEF stepped in and was able to minimize potential health risks by providing emergency water system chlorination, an intensified anti-cholera campaign,  Malaria campaign  with provision of WASH Lifesaving items to benefit victims in areas classified as critical, including 240 cartons of soap to 10,800  individuals,  600 water jerry cans of 20 liters,  350 emergency collapsible water jerry  of 7.5 liters, provided for those without water storage items,  1 carton of   chlorine tablets.33mg  for household use ,  200 plastic sheeting tarpaulin  for emergency shelter and rehabilitation of Latrines,  400 Non Food Items, (NFI)  – kitchen utensils,  200 plastic latrine slabs  to household latrine which collapsed, 600 long lasing insecticide-treated mosquito nets provided to the most vulnerable , 1,000 pieces of Information, Communication  Education materials (ICE).

People holding jerry cans

Protecting Families

Maryam Ahmed was grateful when she received her WASH lifesaving items soap, and other basic hygiene items. She also received a 20 litres of water jerry can and chlorine tablets to purify water, that have been contaminated by the flood, chlorine will help mitigate the risk of contracting waterborne disease, now she has a steady source of safe drinking water. “Rain or no rain, I didn’t know how we could purify water, now we have chlorine tablets.”

“I am very content,” Maryam Ahmed said as she received her WASH lifesaving items.

Maryam said she would not have been able to afford soap on her own, and she is now aware of the need for good hygiene, but hardship has made disease prevention difficult. She was terrified when she heard about corona virus and cholera. “I will protect my children and myself by washing my hands with water and soap regularly since soap and water is available, I am very thankful and grateful for the assistance in these difficult times.” Maryam holds her 5-year-old whose face lights up when she receives the bed nets.  That night Maryam slept peacefully for the first time in many weeks assured that malaria carrying mosquitoes will no longer touch her family.

The number of people reported to have contracted malaria is lower now than it was some weeks ago due to the timely distribution of ITN’s. Hygiene awareness-raising sessions have reduced diarrheal disease prevalence through the promotion of key hygiene improvement practices, such as hand washing with soap, safe disposal of feces, and safe storage and treatment of drinking water at the household level.



Thanks to our generous donors, the USAID /OFDA funds helped in a fast tracking the emergency flood response to affected vulnerable communities in East Darfur.