Sudan braces for more flooding as Nile hits highest levels since 1946

Official warns of 'unprecedented' danger facing dams in the country

Heavy rainfall in central Gezira state makes escape from flooded areas difficult. Getty
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Sudan is bracing for more flooding this week, days after more than 75 people were killed and tens of thousands of homes destroyed by heavy rainfall and river floods across the vast Afro-Arab nation, authorities said.

Authorities on Sunday declared a state of emergency in six states stricken by the floods: West Kordofan, South Darfur, White Nile, River Nile, Al Jazeera and Kassala.

The Irrigation and Water Resources Ministry said levels of the Blue and White Niles were expected to rise again in the next two days.

The ministry advised Sudanese living close to the two rivers, especially in the capital Khartoum, to take precautions.

The rivers reached their highest levels since their record peaks in 1946, it said.

At least 79 people have been killed and 30 injured in flooding last week across parts of western, northern and central Sudan.

A total of 15,000 homes have been destroyed and 22,000 others have been partially damaged, according to figures released by local authorities.

Thousands of livestock heads have perished.

The authorities said at least 25 villages in Nile River state in the country’s north were now under water, as were others in central Gezira state south of Khartoum.

Images shared online from stricken areas show murky brown water inundating villages in northern Sudan, with the roof of homes barely visible.

A flooded area following heavy rainfall in the Sudanese state of Al Jazirah south of Khartoum. Getty Images.

In a warning of what could be in store, the government’s director for dam safety wrote to his superior on Saturday informing him of the “unprecedented danger faced by both river dams and people who live near them”.

A copy of the letter was seen by The National.

In it, the official, Hassan Ahmed, said there was a “dangerous” shortage of experienced employees to monitor water levels in the reservoirs behind the dams and calculate the risks involved.

He said there were no preparations to deal with emergency repairs on the dams. Mr Ahmed added that the recent filling of the reservoir at Ethiopia’s hydroelectric dam near Sudan’s eastern border could be a source of renewed flooding.

The letter said the filling was likely to unleash a sudden and higher-than-normal volume of water into the Blue Nile, which runs into Sudan from its source in Ethiopia’s highlands.

Pro-democracy groups opposed to Sudan’s army, which seized power in a coup last October, have used the flooding to accuse the ruling military of inefficiency and pushing the country to ruin.

“The failure of the coup (government) is not restricted to the absence of preparations (to deal with the flooding),” said the Forces for Freedom and Change, the pro-democracy group that joined in a partnership with the military in a transitional government in 2019 after dictator Omar Al Bashir was removed from power.

“The totality of its latest failure adds to the track record of the October 25 coup that’s stained by continuous failings,” the letter said.

Sudan’s battered economy has significantly worsened since October, with prices rising and the value of its currency sliding against the US dollar.

Security in several areas, especially in the west of the country, has been shattered in recent months. Tribal and ethnic clashes have killed hundreds dead and left tens of thousands homeless.

Updated: August 22, 2022, 11:25 PM
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