A man trying to talk to a media correspondent on the spot, but his words were interrupted by a deep weeping as he was pointing to his ruined home – a picture reflects the volume of the calamity on the ground. With great difficulty he collected his breath and tried to continue describing the catastrophe, but managed to say only a few words of sorrow and despair.
This year’s unprecedented floods that hit many states in Sudan, resulted in more than 100 of deaths, tens of thousands of houses totally demolished and a half million people are in dire need of assistance – including shelter, food and drinking water. This tragedy also includes great environmental hazards where many infectious diseases are expected to spread among the citizens.
People talked on the world media channels voiced their grievances and made heart-breaking outcries for help. They lost their houses being swept by the floods from heavy rains and over-filled rivers. What is regrettable is that all who spoke to the media said that no government official had visited them! The response came late, sluggish, weak and far below the size of the disastrous situation. One might have expected swift response from the Sudan government including forming of an operation office and declaration of state of emergency (it was later on declared), and that helicopters are to hover over the areas severely hit by the floods so as to demark the most devastated areas to intervene according to priorities. Unfortunately, the areas swept by floods are tremendous and the situation seems to be a great calamity.
The international community seemed to be overwhelmed by many world-wide crises such as the Corona Virus pandemic, besides flaring areas in many parts of the world. The UN office in Khartoum declared pledged that the United Nations will provide relief as soon as possible. They said they are worried about the possibility a rampant spread of infectious diseases due to the deterioration of environment particularly with regard to contaminated water which people drink in the flood-affected areas – including considerable areas in the capital.
We are grateful to the Arab countries which have started providing assistance to the Sudanese people affected by this natural disaster – notably: Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Egypt and Iraq.
It is obvious that even the ‘relatively’ well-established houses in the capital Khartoum are affected, but those who live in slums and shanty housing are more affected. It is regrettable that the capital Khartoum lacks drainage systems to get rid of surface water properly – not to mention a sewage system for underground treatments.
As such floods repeat sporadically, it reflects lacking of strategic planning for running the city which has been growing over years due to migration from the states which are deprived from equitable development. Also this is an indicator of lacking strategic vision for comprehensive development. Some countries which found their capital are not fit for expansion or for incorporating more people in, change the capital by establishing a new one elsewhere. Nigeria is a good example. As Lagos became unbearable due to congestion, overcrowded; spread of aids and crimes, the government moved the capital to Abuja. Khartoum – as it stands – has ceased to be suitable for a “modern city” any longer.