As Sudan Rebuilds Government, Flood Victims Rebuild Towns

KHARTOUM � As Sudan awaits formation of a new government following a landmark political deal, hundreds of thousands of houses across the country remain under water.

The rainy season, which causes the Nile to flood every year, hit particularly hard this year. And fuel shortages � the main motivation behind the initial protests last year which ousted longtime President Omar al Bashir � have continued to exacerbate the problem.

"The main issue is draining the water � the pump needs diesel all the time and there's no diesel," said Abdul el-Azzem Majid, a resident of the flooded Al Azoozab suburb of Khartoum.

"We need it more than � we can provide everything else but not the diesel," said Majid.

While the one pump functioning in Al Azoozab drains water out of the town, residents and volunteers fill sandbags in an attempt to reinforce a cracked barricade that, in previous years, had kept flooded Nile waters out of their homes.

According to U.N. numbers released last week, 62 people have been killed in the recent floods. State news agency SUNA reported that 35,000 homes in 17 out of Sudan's 18 states had been affected.

On Aug. 17, Sudan's opposition coalition Forces for Freedom and Change signed a historic political agreement with members of the military. A prime minister and cabinet have been named, but the government is still forming a legislative body.

The power-sharing agreement calls for a three-year transitional period leading to elections for a civilian-led government.

As Sudan's new government continues to settle, local aid organizations are unsure how and when state aid will be made available.

"Sadly this happens every year � it's a problem of infrastructure, city planning, and sanitation," said Hassan Mustafa, a volunteer at local aid organization, Nafeer.

"Government intervention is still very slow," he added. "Political turmoil has already affected the process, and as there's no government formed yet, that also changes the situation."

Nafeer, which means collective or community aid, is made up of volunteers who assess damage, collect water and medicine, and sometimes help evacuate victims out of affected areas.

Though Nafeer was created a few years ago, some victims like Mohamed Salah say that as the country waits for its legislative body to be formed in the wake of months of protests, the general sense of community in the country has increased.

"The political change that occurred had resulted in social change � we've seen a more collaborative approaches and an increase in younger volunteers as an alternative to our government," Salah said, standing outside his flooded home as his wife and children look on from the top floor.

"They have been opposing the regime but they can fulfill the government's role in its absence. The youth have done great work in this chapter of our history."

Source: Voice of America

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