Sudan Flood-Relief Needs Give Country’s Young Activists a New Cause

United States Institute of Peace
September 9, 2013
By Viola Gienger

A deluge of heavy summer rains in Sudan that washed away homes, turned streets into ravines, and affected about 340,000 people throughout the country, including 128,000 around the capital Khartoum, has also created a flood of a different kind – young volunteers.

An initiative called Nafeer, after the traditional word for community assistance after a disaster, has become a catalyst for uniting Sudanese of a younger generation who until now have focused on a disparate array of mostly futile efforts to accomplish political change in their war-torn country.

Seeing the devastation wrought by the flash floods and the absence of other organized disaster assistance, a core group of 15 mobilized to help. Within days, they numbered in the hundreds, drew more than 35,000 likes on Facebook, and raised tens of thousands of dollars from within Sudan and abroad for relief supplies. As of late August, volunteers numbered around 7,000.

“We were all asking how can we start responding to this crisis,” said Otheylat Alawad, a 37-year-old volunteer who joined the effort, in an interview over Skype. Having worked in the humanitarian sector for 12 years, she is helping Nafeer with media and communications. “I’m used to five or up to 20 people who come together to do something, but nothing like this.”

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