Geneva — Seasonal flooding in Sudan and South Sudan has devastated whole communities, where homes have been destroyed and farmland and livelihoods are washed away, the United Nations says.
The rains came early this year, beginning in South Sudan in late April instead of June. The buildup of massive amounts of rainwater has caused the Nile and Lol rivers and Sudd marshlands to overflow and flood large swathes of territory.
Jonglei, Unity, Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Upper Nile are the worst affected states. The U.N. says nearly half a million people are suffering because of the floods.
Jens Laerke, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs spokesman, says aid agencies are doing their best to provide emergency relief.
"Access is a major challenge though, with most of the flood-affected areas inaccessible by road, and the transport of aid by air is very costly.... Some of the flood-affected counties are also affected by ongoing violence, which creates significant challenges for the people affected and the humanitarians who try to respond to their needs," he said.
Laerke said aid agencies have delivered food, water purification tablets, plastic sheeting for temporary shelter, mosquito nets and medical and other supplies, but resources are limited and must be replenished.
Lack of money is hampering the operation, he said, with only 61% of this year's U.N. $1.7-billion South Sudan appeal met.
Laerke said a similar funding problem in Sudan is preventing emergency aid from being delivered to more than 314,000 flood victims. He said heavy rains have been wreaking havoc in 14 of Sudan's 18 states since July.
"Flooding has destroyed or damaged more than 62,000 houses and displaced over 100,000 people. Bridges have collapsed and farmland has been inundated. Some 183,000 people have been reached with various kinds of assistance. However, relief stocks also here in Sudan urgently need to be replenished to maintain the response," he said.
Laerke said hundreds of thousands of Sudanese will be deprived of essential supplies and services for the rest of this year without more outside support, and that the U.N.'s $1.9-billion Sudan appeal is only 29% funded.