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What happened to your house?

And where do you say you are? We’ll have a team out there soon.

They are the members of Nafeer, a volunteer, youth-led initiative that responded swiftly to the humanitarian crisis caused by heavy rains and flash floods that struck Sudan this month. A “nafeer” is a Sudanese social tradition that comes from an Arabic word meaning “a call to mobilize.” The group’s formation was all the more important because the Sudanese government was slow to respond.

The deluge has taken a heavy toll. The impact of the heavy rains and floods has been felt in most of Sudan, but the area around Khartoum, the capital, suffered the hardest blow.

The White Nile

Shoreline February 2013

= 1,000 Houses = 1,000 People



Total Houses Damaged

28,054 Khartoum

Total People Affected

128,380 Khartoum

Shoreline August 2013 Khartoum

On a trip to one flooded area east of Khartoum, a team of 20 Nafeer volunteers, men and women, mounted two four-wheel-drive vehicles and a pickup truck loaded with bags of food, plastic tarps and sandbags.

Both sides of the highway leading east from Khartoum were crammed with families seeking refuge. The road itself is elevated, sitting above the flooded areas flanking it, so families dragged their mattresses, suitcases and other belongings to the highway’s edge, desperate for help.

At the Nafeer volunteers’ first stop, several families went to meet them. Ahmad Sadig, 65, explained what had happened. “The night it rained, it didn’t stop, and it was windy,” he said. “My daughter had just given birth a couple of weeks before.” His daughter, Zainab Sadig, 26, continued. “Then a wall fell, and a stream of water came in,” she said. “I carried my baby and ran.” Mr. Sadig said he called the local authorities the day after. “But no one answered the phone,” he said. “At least these Nafeer guys answer the phone.”

A Nafeer volunteer offered them a bag filled with sugar, flour, dry milk, fava beans and macaroni, along with a plastic sheet.

May God bless you, Mr. Sadig replied.

Ms. Tawfig, a student volunteer, explained what made her come back every day to volunteer with Nafeer.

You have to imagine yourself in their place — no shelter, no food, no water...

You wouldn’t stand it.

This book was designed by Karly Nelson in Fall 2013 at Washington University in St. Louis. The typeface used is Meta Serif. Text is from Kushkush, Isma’il; “As Floods Ravage Sudan, Young Volunteers Revive a Tradition of Aid” The New York Times; August 29, 2013. All images are from Statistical information is from Relief Web and

Sudan Flood Book  
Sudan Flood Book