Catastrophic floods and surging inflation drive up number of Sudanese people in need
Sudan is experiencing a double humanitarian disaster caused by torrential floods and a simultaneously surging inflation which increased the number of people in need and the local cost of responding to those needs, the UN humanitarian agency said today (2 October) at the United Nations in Geneva.
Speaking to journalists, Jens Laerke, Spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said that “more than 860,000 people have had their houses destroyed or damaged in the floods and more than 120 people have died, according to local authorities”. He added that “schools, health, water and sanitation facilities have also been damaged or destroyed especially in North Darfur, Khartoum, West Darfur and Sennar”.
In early September, the country declared a three-month state of emergency over the floods, which began in mid-July and mark the worst flooding in the country in 30 years, with authorities recording the highest water levels on the Blue Nile since records began over 100 years ago.
The UN and its humanitarian partners have reached so far more than 400,000 people in need. However, rising prices are hampering the humanitarian assistance.
“A surging inflation, reaching nearly 170 percent in August, and the associated spike in local prices and shortages of basic commodities, is hampering the response in major ways”, OCHA’s Jens Laerke said. “The prices of supplies, which are procured locally, are rising every week”.
According to WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) partners, prices of some locally procured supplies have increased three-or four-fold, and in some cases, the services had to be stopped.
“A related challenge is that, in some cases, by the time the procurement process is finalized, the suppliers have increased prices so that the original budgets are no longer valid”, Laerke said. “Agencies have to restart the process from scratch, while there is no guarantee that by the time that that process is done, the prices will not have risen once again and they can start all over”.
According to OCHA, some humanitarian partners are now able to reach only one of every four people previously assisted, as increased prices and delays in procurement drained their budgets.
Sudan’s recent flooding and landslides have not only affected its people and their homes, but also damaged large tracts of farmland just before harvest. For the local communities, the average price of the food basket increased by nearly 200 per cent compared to last year, the World Food Programme said.
“Most families in Sudan already spent around 65 per cent of their income on food, so these price hikes lead to increased hunger and less education, health and other services that families de-prioritize as they try to cope with the economic hardship”, Jens Laerke said.