Sudan and South Sudan – Floods Affect Over 700,000

Ongoing floods in the neighbouring countries of Sudan and South Sudan have affected more than 700,000 people since the start of the rainy season in July this year. Around 100,000 of those affected in South Sudan were initially displaced by floods last year and have not been able to return home since.

Heavy rains, infrastructure damage and reduced physical accessibility, funding constraints and insecurity have hampered the flood response, humanitarian agencies say.

Flooding along the White Nile in Sudan, September 2021. Image: NASA


According to the latest data from the United Nations, 303,330 people in Sudan have been affected by floods across the country since the beginning of the rainy season in the second half of July. This is a significant increase form the 60,000 affected as of 22 August. Furthermore 14,820 homes have been destroyed and 45,390 damaged.

Flooding has affected 13 states in total, with River Nile (39,430 people affected), Al Jazirah (54,570), Gedaref (56,000) and White Nile (97,000) suffering the most. Floods in Al Jazirah State have destroyed thousands of homes across the localities of Um Algura (2,893 homes destroyed), Sharg Aj Jazirah (1,708) and Al Hasahisa (893).

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said close to 183,000 people have received some kind of of humanitarian assistance in flood-affected states, including food, shelter, water, sanitation, hygiene, and nutrition aid. However, OCHA warned that there are now limited stocks of relief supplies and if flooding continues, humanitarian partners will face challenges responding to this and other ongoing humanitarian emergencies.

“Humanitarian partners are facing various challenges, impacting the timely delivery of assistance. In River Nile and Northern states, the lack of humanitarian partners on the ground is impacting overall humanitarian response. While in West Kordofan, lack of access due to floodwaters and security challenges are impacting the timely delivery of humanitarian assistance,” OCHA said.

Levels of the Nile appear to be falling and as of 22 September were below flooding level at the measuring stations at Shandi, Khartoum, Atbara and Ed Deim.

Images from the United Nations Satellite Centre (UNOSAT) suggest the extent of flood water decreasing in some areas. For example in Al Jabalayn district in White Nile state the water extent decreased around 100km² between 14 to 19 September .

Levels of the Nile River in Sudan as of 22 September 2021

South Sudan

In South Sudan, early seasonal rains resulted in the overflow of the Nile river, Sudd wetlands, the Lol and Sobat rivers, flooding vast areas from May this year. According to the UN, an estimated 426,000 people have been affected or displaced by floods since then. Communities in Jonglei are the worst affected (160,000 people affected), followed by Unity (146,000 people), Northern Bahr el Ghazal (47,000 people), Upper Nile (44,000), Warrap (25,000 people), and Western Equatoria (600 people).

The UN said that “many of the flood-affected people moved to higher ground within their county, and plan to return home once the flood waters recede. Some 100,000 people, mostly from Twic East, who were displaced by the 2020 floods, have not returned home since the prior year’s impact and are sheltering in the Bor and Mangalla IDP camps, and in Mingkaman, according to humanitarian partners.”

Heavy rains, infrastructure damage and reduced physical accessibility, funding constraints and insecurity have hampered the flood response. According to initial assessments, priority needs include food assistance, emergency shelter and non-food items, water, sanitation and hygiene services and hygiene kits, health and nutrition supplies and services, protection services and dignity kits, and fishing kits for livelihood support.

UN OCHA and humanitarian partners are expecting the number of affected people across the country to rise further and possibly exceed 650,000, based on historical data and the expectation that the floods will continue over the coming months.