Thousands in Sudan Receive Help from Italian NGO Founded by Jesuit Cleric amid Flooding

Some of the flood victims in Sudan receive aid provided by Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI).
Credit: Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI)

As Sudan grapples with the effects of the ongoing floods described as the worst in a century, officials of Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI), an Italy-based non-governmental organization (NGO) that was founded by a Jesuit Cleric, have reached out to some of the affected people in the country with emergency humanitarian aid.

In a September 17 report obtained by ACI Africa, officials of the organization indicate that their organization has provided life-saving assistance to 1,500 affected people, besides offering materials to mitigate the impact of the floods on key infrastructure.

“Displaced people of the area, exposed to the harsh climatic conditions, insecurity and other vulnerabilities have been provided with jerry cans, tarpaulin, sleeping mats and mosquito nets,” the leadership of the NGO that has a presence in 30 countries says.

Officials of the Milan-based organization have also facilitated the distribution of 600 Non-Food Items (NFI) to families that are most affected in some five villages of Jebel Awlia region in the north-central part of the country.

Due to the ongoing heavy rains in the North-East African nation, the Blue Nile River burst its banks leading to devastating floods that have affected at least 16 of the country’s 18 states, with the capital, Khartoum being among the worst hit.

Describing the severity of the floods, Sudan’s Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdokthe noted that the “levels of the Nile and its tributaries this year, according to the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources, have been unprecedented since 1912."

Reported as the worst Sudan has experienced in a century, the floods have affected over 500,000 people, destroyed over 100,000 homes and claimed the lives of at least 102 people.

As part of the government’s response to the disaster, members of the country’s Security and Defense Council in early September declared a state emergency for a period of three months, and designated the country as a natural disaster area.

Amid the catastrophe, the leadership of COOPI, which has been running programs in Sudan since 2004, has facilitated the delivery of “15 trucks of sands and 2,500 jute sacks” aimed at enhancing efforts to shield critical infrastructure from the impact of the floods.

“Volunteers from the beneficiary communities filled the sacks with sand and placed them in specific points to prevent and reduce flood water damage and to protect the foundations of structures such as schools, health centers, mosques,” officials of the 55-year-old agency say in the September 17 report.

Founded in 1965 by the “megaphone of charity” Italian Jesuit Fr. Vincenzo Barbieri (1930 – 2010), COOPI strives to break the cycle of poverty and support populations affected by wars, socio-economic crisis or disasters in order to encourage resilience and sustainable development.

In Africa, COOPI runs programs in Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Malawi, Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), The Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.

In its vision statement, “COOPI aspires to a world without poverty, a world in which the ideals of equality and justice, sustainable development and social cohesion can be achieved, thanks to the coming together and cooperation of its peoples.”

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ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]