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Cablegate: Sudan - Usaid Flood Assessment in Kassala State

VZCZCXRO4054
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1296/01 2311406
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 191406Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8242
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001296

SIPDIS

AIDAC
SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/SPG, PRM, AND ALSO PASS USAID/W
USAID FOR DCHA SUDAN TEAM, DCHA/OFDA, AND AFR/SP
NAIROBI FOR USAID/DCHA/OFDA, USAID/REDSO, USAID/SFO AND FAS
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH
NSC FOR PMARCHAM, MMAGAN, AND TSHORTLEY
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
USUN FOR TMALY
BRUSSELS FOR PBROWN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREF PGOV PHUM SOCI UN SU
SUBJECT: SUDAN - USAID FLOOD ASSESSMENT IN KASSALA STATE


KHARTOUM 00001296 001.2 OF 002


1. Summary. From August 6 to 9, USAID/SUDAN staff traveled to
Kassala State to assess the effects of recent flooding, following
unseasonably heavy rainfall in early July. Flooding has affected an
estimated 40,000 people, destroyed more than 2,600 homes, and
resulted in 10 deaths and extensive damage to agricultural lands.
Current response measures are considered adequate and well
coordinated. However, with rains expected to continue through the
wet season in September, aid organizations and government agencies
remain concerned about the potential for additional flooding. End
summary.

----------------
Flood Assessment
----------------

2. While Sudan is prone to annual flooding, the early onset of the
2007 rainy season has been characterized by excessive rainfall and
flash floods, resulting in widespread displacement and damage. In
Kassala State, flooding along the Gash River in Kassala town and
surrounding rural areas, including Atbara River and Gash localities,
has affected an estimated 40,000 people, and damaged homes, crops,
and infrastructure. In the New Halfa area of Atbara River locality,
rains and run off from surrounding hills have affected 18 villages
and nearly 15,000 people. Aid agencies report an additional 21,000
flood-affected people in Kassala town and more than 5,000 in Gash
locality. In the rural areas outside of Kassala, USAID staff
observed large numbers of displaced families that have relocated to
higher ground along the Kassala-Aroma highway, including families
who have lost their homes and others who have moved due to fears of
additional flooding.

3. A UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) assessment reported
extensive damage to the agricultural sector, including the loss of
an estimated 4,000 fruit trees, 2,000 acres of vegetable crops, and
350 metric tons (MT) of dry fodder. In addition, flooding collapsed
625 wells and eroded more than 900 acres of fertile land.

4. With rains expected to continue through September, the potential
for additional flooding remains a significant concern, as does the
risk of disease epidemics resulting from the floods. The Sudanese
Red Crescent Society and USAID partner GOAL reported 19 cases of
acute watery diarrhea, including 5 confirmed cases of cholera in
flood-affected villages of Atbara River locality. GOAL is working
on establishing a base in the area.

---------------------
Humanitarian Response
---------------------

5. Relief efforts to date have been well coordinated between the
government, UN Resident Coordinator's Office (RCO), and
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) through the Joint Emergency
Committee, facilitating a rapid and organized response. The UN
State Team-Crisis Management Team and partners are working in four
main locations, and emergency distribution points have been
established in five locations that are perceived to be at greatest
risk. State authorities continue to implement repairs and reinforce
the banks of the Gash River in Kassala.

6. The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and NGOs have distributed
emergency relief supplies, including tents, plastic sheeting,
sleeping mats, mosquito nets, blankets, and health kits. UNICEF has
provided medical kits for 101 health facilities to serve a
population of 100,000 through September. In addition, the UN Joint
Logistics Center has established an emergency stock of relief
supplies stored in UN World Food Program (WFP) facilities.

7. Humanitarian organizations are also focusing on chlorinating
water sources, spraying standing water, and implementing other
activities to mitigate the spread of waterborne illnesses as the
rainy season continues in August and September. UNICEF has provided
a supply of water purification tablets for Kassala town through
October, in addition to erecting water bladders and tankering water
to rural flood-affected populations. In Kassala town, state
authorities are coordinating vector control efforts through aerial
spraying.

8. WFP and state authorities have coordinated closely to ensure
adequate coverage of food assistance and to avoid duplication of
efforts, dividing coverage between rural and urban areas. On July
12, WFP distributed 159 MT of food assistance as part of an initial
15-day ration to 18,550 flood-affected people in rural areas of

KHARTOUM 00001296 002.2 OF 002


Kassala. Kassala State authorities provided food distributions from
Red Sea and Gedarif states to populations in Kassala and Aroma
towns. In response to reports of newly displaced populations along
the Kassala-Aroma highway, WFP conducted an assessment on August 9,
and is preparing a second 15-day ration distribution of 186 MT of
food assistance to 20,000 people. The 1,500 increase in
beneficiaries reflects the identification of additional displaced
populations north of Aroma who have relocated from low-lying areas
due to fears of additional flooding.

9. In response to a critical shortfall of plastic sheeting within
the UN common non-food item pipeline for the north and east, USAID
airlifted 1,300 rolls of plastic sheeting, from its warehouse in
Dubai to Khartoum on August 8 and 9. Consigned to UNICEF, a portion
of the USAID contribution, valued at more than USD 500,000, is
helping to provide shelter to flood-affected populations in Kassala
State.

10. In addition, USAID partners operating in Kassala, including
International Rescue Committee (IRC), GOAL, and FAO, are
contributing to the flood response through the provision of relief
commodities, health, and water, sanitation, and hygiene services.
GOAL has distributed emergency relief supplies to nearly 30,000
flood-affected people, and established a mobile clinic in Kassala
town to provide primary health care to 20,000 people. IRC health,
sanitation, and hygiene promotion activities target more than 9,000
people in Kassala town. In addition, FAO is providing vaccinations
for animals, as well as seeds, tools, and sacs and has pledged USD
450,000 to support flood-affected agriculturalists.

11. In meetings with USAID staff, government officials, including
the state wali, expressed their appreciation for the role of the UN
and NGOs in containing the disaster and assisting affected
households.

---------------------------
Preparedness and Mitigation
---------------------------

12. Current response measures are considered adequate, although
government and relief agencies remain concerned about the likelihood
of renewed flooding. In meetings with USAID staff, the RCO
identified the need to improve state preparedness and mitigation
efforts. Recommendations included securing tents and emergency
relief supplies for 50,000 households, implementing water,
sanitation, and hygiene and environmental activities, such as
spraying stagnant water, intensifying sanitation and hygiene
awareness, and ensuring the provision of clean water. In
collaboration with the UN Development Program, the RCO is also
preparing a crisis management capacity building program with the
state government. In addition to RCO recommendations, the state
wali proposed the construction of dykes along the Gash River bank as
a long-term engineering solution to protect Kassala from future
flooding.

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