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Heavy rains trigger widespread flash flooding

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Sudan
  • August 2012
Heavy rains trigger widespread flash flooding

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  • Key Messages
  • Updated food security outlook through December
  • Key Messages
    • About 4.6 million people in Sudan will continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2), Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) levels of food insecurity through September. Food security conditions are likely to improve when the harvest begins in October. To date, the agricultural season is progressing well.

    • Above-average rains have triggered widespread flash floods in many parts of Sudan, affecting about 100,000 people to date. The floods damaged houses and property, washed out thousands of hectares of cropland, caused the death of thousands of animals, and a number of human casualties.  The heavy rains also increase the potential that desert locusts will migrate from North and West Africa into Sudan, which could cause crop damage.

    • The increased pattern of militia activity in North Darfur is raising serious concern and could trigger tribal clashes in some areas. Continued fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Darfur rebel groups is likely to cause more displacement, disturb cultivation and trade flows, and hinder the seasonal return of IDPs and refugees. In spite of the prevailing insecurity in Darfur, more IDPs have been engaged in cultivation this year than in the recent past. This is attributed to improved security in West Darfur, high grain prices during 2012, good rainfall this year to date, and reduced rations of food aid.

    Updated food security outlook through December

    Localized flash flooding. Above-average rains in July and up to the third week of August triggered widespread flash floods in many areas, including Gadaref, Kassala, North Darfur, Central Darfur, North Darfur, White Nile, South Darfur, South Kordofan and Khartoum states. To date an estimated 100,000 people have been directly affected by floods, thousands of hectares of crops have been washed out, thousands of animals have died, and a number of causalities have been reported. In some areas, infectious water-borne diseases are rapidly increasing. In areas where floods are severe (e.g. Al Rahad and Al Mafaza localities in Gadaref state, Al Griba area in Kassala state, and IDP camps in Darfur), local authorities declared a state of emergency. With more rains forecasted through the end of August, the Government of Sudan (GoS) has warned of potential flash flooding in central, east and western Sudan and a high risk of flooding along the banks of the Atbra, Al Gash, Blue and Nile rivers. In spite of the flooding, the good rains have generated hopes for a good agricultural season in stable areas of Sudan.  However, risks remain for both water logging and potential migration of locusts from North and West Africa.  

    Macroeconomic context. According to Sudan’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), the July 2012 inflation rate was 41.6 percent compared to 37.2 percent in June, mostly attributed to the rising food price (by 6.2 percent in July). The recent agreement over oil transport fees with South Sudan is likely to have a positive impact on the economy. However, pending political issues related to border demarcation and settlement of issues in Abyei, as well as operational constraints to resuming production in South Sudan, could delay full resumption of oil export for months. In response to the recent gains in the local currency, the government is considering reducing the official exchange rate.   

    Insecurity/conflict. Security conditions continue to be tense in Blue Nile and South Kordofan as sporadic fighting continues between the Sudanese Arm Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N). However, since Sudan and South Sudan resumed talks under AU mediation in June 2012, there has been no direct fighting between the two countries.  In Darfur, security conditions have significantly deteriorated in recent months, particularly in North Darfur, where fighting between SAF and Darfur rebel groups continue to cause new displacement and reduce trade flows.

    Markets and trade. Grain prices peaked in June and either remained stable or slightly declined in July. In July, the nominal retail sorghum price decreased by 8 percent in El Obied, 5 percent in El Gadarif and 4 percent in Kadugli compared to June. Current levels of sorghum prices are, on average, double last year’s prices and about 150 percent above the five-year average. Cereal prices are likely to continue declining over the coming months in anticipation of a good harvest.

    South Kordofan

    FEWS NET estimates that about 200,000 – 250,000 people living in SPLM-N controlled areas currently face Crisis to Emergency levels of food insecurity. Of this population, IDPs (about 150,000 – 200,000 people) currently face Emergency levels of food insecurity, and poor households among the host community (about 50,000 people) face Crisis levels. In GoS-controlled areas, an estimated 100,000 – 130,000 IDPs face stressed levels of food insecurity. IDPs in these areas are expected to have better access to markets, as well as humanitarian assistance by the GoS and WFP, although heavy rains are likely to block roads and reduce access.

    Population flows: The Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) reported recent displacement of 3,000 people from EL Moraib village to Gerdod village and Al Abassiya town in Al Abassiya locality due to attacks by SPLM-N. HAC also reported the return of about 43,000 IDPs to their areas of origin in GoS-controlled areas (e.g. some parts of Talodi, Rashad, Abassiya and AL Rief Alshargi localities) in order to cultivate, although lack of seeds and tools and the prevailing insecurity might reduce cultivation. Some limitations on population flows to/out of SPLM-N controlled areas are likely to continue during the scenario period. A joint verification of IDPs in Kadugli town during the last two weeks of July 2012 by WFP and the Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS) indicated that there are now 45,000 IDPs, which represents a 30 percent increase over the last verification conducted in May. Most of these IDPs are from Buram and Um Dorain localities (mostly controlled by SPLM-N), and reportedly left because of insecurity, deteriorating food security conditions, and lack of basic services.     

    Insecurity: During the third week of July, fighting between SAF and JEM was reported in Al Tibun area (western South Kordofan). A recent attack on a WFP vehicle travelling on Kadugli Dilling road, during which one WFP staff member was killed and another was seriously injured, raises concerns about the safety of humanitarian agencies in South Kordofan.  This could reduce the capabilities of humanitarian agencies to deliver humanitarian assistance in South Kordofan state.  

    The assumptions detailed in the July Outlook remain valid.  Prevailing food insecurity conditions are likely to persist through September, but are expected to improve to Crisis levels (IPC Phase 3) among the IDPs in SPLM-N controlled areas, and to Stressed levels (IPC Phase 2) among IDPs in GoS-controlled areas and residents in SPLM-N controlled areas during October – December. Per the July Outlook report, FEWS NET assumes that the outcomes of the tripartite peace talks and also peace initiatives between Sudan and South Sudan are unlikely to yield immediate benefits because of the expected impacts on cultivation early in the season. In addition, access however, access during the rainy season is likely to be constrained by road blockages due to heavy rains and the prevailing insecurity conditions.  .

    Blue Nile State

    During the last week of July, clashes between SAF and SPLM-N were reported in Al Kadalo area of Al Roseires locality and in Ora Balila near Wadaka Neili. The impact of these clashes on civilians is not yet known. The influx of Sudanese refugees from Blue Nile to South Sudan continued during July but was significantly reduced compared to last May and June, according to UNHCR. By the end of July UNHCR reported that there were about 145,000 refugees from Blue Nile either in Ethiopia (38,000) or in camps in Upper Nile (107,000) in South Sudan. As of August, 175,000 people in Blue Nile face Crisis and Stressed levels of food insecurity.

    The assumptions detailed in the July Outlook remain valid.  Current Crisis levels of food insecurity in SPLM-N controlled areas and Stressed levels in GoS-controlled areas are likely to continue through September.  Food security conditions in SPLM-N controlled areas are likely to improve from IPC Phase 3 to IPC Phase 2 during the October to December period.


    As of August, the majority of the 1.8 million IDPs in Darfur face Stressed levels of food insecurity and about 1.2 million resident/host communities in the drought-affected areas of North Darfur face Crisis levels. Food security is of most concern in North Darfur due to deteriorating security conditions, poor food availability and high grain prices, and in Jebel Mara, due to the impacts of conflict on trade and humanitarian access. 

    Heavy rains continued to cause widespread flash flooding in many parts of Darfur since the last week of June. By the first week of August, over 25,000 people were directly affected by floods, particularly in Bindesi, Wadi Salih, Um Kheir, Siro, AnJoketi, Siga, Rota and Rasalfil areas in Central Darfur, El Ferdos town in East Darfur,  Reheid el Berdi and Kabum in South Darfur and Malha, El Fasher town, Zamaam IDP camp, and El Kuma locality in North Darfur. In addition to the direct impacts on animals, humans, and assets, heavy rains are likely to have adverse effects on crops in sandy types of soils, including soil erosion and leaching, dominant in most parts of North and West Darfur states.   

    The increased pattern of militia activities in North Darfur is raising concern and could trigger tribal clashes in some parts of North Darfur. Continued fighting between SAF and Darfur rebel groups is likely to force more people to flee their homes, disturb cultivation and trade flows between Darfur states with central Sudan, and hinder the seasonal return of IDPs and refugees in some parts of Darfur. In spite of prevailing security conditions, it is reported that more IDPs have been engaged in cultivation this year than in the recent past. It is reported that some have returned to their own land and others have either rented or entered into share cropping arrangements. Sources at the state ministries of agriculture attribute this to improved security conditions in some parts of Darfur (e.g. West Darfur), high grain prices during 2012, good rainfall this year to date, and reduced rations (50 percent of normal) of food aid. However, the deteriorating security conditions in some parts of Darfur (e.g. Kuttum locality in North Darfur) might reduce access to cultivation this year.

    Prevailing food insecurity conditions are likely to persist until the October harvest, after which Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity will predominate. Drought affected populations in Darfur (1.2 million) will be able to meet minimum food requirements via own production and market purchase through income from sales of cash crops and/or livestock.  

    Figures Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events

    Source: FEWS NET

    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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