The recent floods in Sudan, as any other humanitarian crisis or emergency, increase the risk of gender-based violence (GBV), as a more insecure physical environment adds further risks for women in the public and private spheres. In Sudan, unequal gendered-power relations lead to high level of violence against women and girls in communities, including threats, harassment, domestic disputes, community-level disputes and domestic violence.
With the floods and new displacements, the lack of proper shelter and loss of economic and livelihood opportunities, affecting people’s ability to meet basic needs, increase GBV in communities where family violence is normalized.
There are approximately 187,500 women of reproductive age who are living in temporary shelters due to the floods, where no visible protection measures are taken to ensure their safety and security. Sanitation conditions have further deteriorated, negatively affecting women, especially those pregnant who need extra support with reproductive health services.
The situation adds to the already fragile system to support GBV survivors. In Sudan, GBV services are absent in more than 90 per cent of the localities in the country. Furthermore, during emergency situations GBV becomes a mobility challenge, especially if water sources are far from the temporary shelters or located in unsafe areas.
Humanitarian partners distributed nearly 20,400 dignity kits—including essential supplies as sanitary pads, underwear and other hygiene items that will last for two months—to vulnerable women and girls in reproductive health age in flood-affected areas in Khartoum (10,216 women), North Darfur (3,000), Kassala (5,000), North Kordofan (2,000 women) and East Darfur (185).
More than 20,300 brochures on personal hygiene were distributed and clear referral mechanisms to provide a minimum survivor-centred response to GBV survivors in areas affected by heavy rains in North Darfur, South Darfur, West Darfur, Blue Nile, Khartoum and Kassala states. Furthermore, community-based protection networks engaged in GBV response and prevention prior to the emergency were identified, strengthened and included as part of the response.
Since August, more than 4,000 people have been targeted by awareness-raising activities on sexual and reproductive health and GBV through the mobile clinic teams operating in affected areas. The awareness-raising activities included the distribution of posters to promote the national and state-level GBV helplines.
Access to affected populations and areas have been challenging and has thus delayed and hindered effective response and assessments. Despite a pre-positioning of dignity kits and supplies to cater to the needs of 20,216 people, there is still a gap to cover the remaining women as the number of people affected by floods surpassed the initial forecast.
The ongoing economic crisis and inflation in Sudan have caused further challenges, as operation costs are increasing. There is a greater need to follow minimum standards to ensure gender mainstreaming and protection in emergencies.