Flooding hits farming town in eastern Sudan as water levels rise

Blue Nile bursts its banks in eastern Sudan and tributary rises to dangerous level in Khartoum

Sudan’s Gedaref region
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A farming town in eastern Sudan was hit hard by flooding on Monday when the Blue Nile river broke its banks.

It inundated residential districts and government offices, but no one died or was injured, local officials said.

The flood in the town of Al Faw in Gedaref prompted the region’s government to appeal for aid agencies’ help, local governor Sulaiman Ali said.

He said tents for victims had already arrived, as had material to bolster the river’s banks.

The Blue Nile’s flood season falls in July and August, when heavy rainfall typically occurs at its source on the Ethiopian highlands.

Heavy rainfall in Gedaref recently swelled the river, which is the Nile’s main tributary.

Sudan’s Gedaref region flooded on Tuesday

The flood forced merchants in Al Faw’s main market to empty their stores and take their merchandise to higher ground.

It inundated farms, invaded the courthouse and government offices, and disrupted water treatment works.

Flooding in the Jazeera region, Sudan’s bread basket south of the capital Khartoum, was also reported, with some 120 villages affected.

In Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, in the north, authorities and residents nervously watched the level of the Blue Nile rise.

The Ministry of Irrigation said the river’s waters had increased by 452 million cubic metres on Tuesday, up from 400 million on Monday.

It said the rising water level contrasted with an unusually low level earlier this month resulting from Ethiopia’s second filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which it is building on the Blue Nile close to the Sudanese border.

Ethiopia had initially said it intended the hydroelectric dam’s filling to involve 13.5 billion cubic metres – nearly three times the size of the first filling, last year.

But experts monitoring the project said construction delays meant no more than four billion cubic metres were kept at its reservoir this month.

Sudan insists that Ethiopia must enter a legally binding agreement with itself and Egypt to govern the operation and filling of the dam. Ethiopia responded by saying that guidelines should suffice.

Egypt, which is also downstream of the Gerd, says the project would rob it of a significant portion of its share of the river, on which it depends for nearly all its fresh water needs. A decade of negotiations has failed to produce an agreement.

Ethiopia announced the completion of the dam’s second filling last week. It is clear now that Egypt would not be affected by the filling, thanks to a bumper flood that will fill the giant reservoir behind its own Aswan dam.

Updated: July 27, 2021, 5:29 PM