Every water solution carries its own story. Enjoy the journey to clean, safe water by reading these stories.
As Unicef states so well, water collection is by and large the job of women and the burden on them is overwhelming. Read more from the UN here or click here for a simple infographic from the folks at GOOD. We are literally saving lives every day. Imagine your life totally dependent on finding water, any water, every day, day after day after day. The challenge is real; the reward for doing something: LIFE!
The trip to Terakeka was quick; we came in one evening and were set to leave the next morning, so I woke up before sunrise and walked down to the Nile to shoot some refugee life.
As I was wrapping up, a man - which is odd, because this is typically woman's work in Sudan - came down to the river with his pot of dry maize flour, waded out to his knees and then submerged it. This would be the water he used to cook for his family.
The White Nile isn't water you'd typically want to use for this. In fact, the WiB Sudan field director (a Sudanese man) advised me not to even get my feet wet.
Thankfully, Water is Basic has drilled a well (WiB #96 N 05'26.169" E 31'44.370") on the land given to the refugees and has three more slated for later this year.
Logo I Village
It takes 30 minutes to drive from Yei town to a small village called Logo northwest of Yei River County headquarters. The village is inhabited by a clan of Logo who speak Kakwa language. It is a peaceful community because they have lived together for many years.
There was an old woman called Priscilla Bari’ba living at the village, between 65-70 years old. She lives in a small grass thatched house with farming land around the homestead. The woman has three daughters who are all married and live with their husbands. Priscilla is a widow who lost her husband long ago, and as result she is living at the old homestead that belonged to her late father. Her properties from her husband’s house were taken away by the relative of the late husband. Her life was lonely at first so she worked for a local church called Ngongitali a Kakwa, which means "Suffering in Silence". Because of the little support from the church which could not sustain her, she decided to the leave the church work as an elder and started to work for herself although she remained a church member. Her neighbors are people of her age.
The only source of drinking water, water for domestic work and construction of houses is entirely borehole water. Logo community has a borehole that was drilled and constructed on the 5th of December 2008, by Water is Basic. The borehole functioned well those days. But when I visited the area the hand pump was not functioning well; it took 30-45 minutes to fill one jerry cane of 20 liters, for an old woman like Bari’ba it takes an hour to fill her 10-liter plastic bucket of water.
There is need to repair the borehole to supply adequate water to these 50 – 70 households which use 10 - 15 jerry cans of 20 liters per day, and improve the water yield. If a jerry can of 20 liters takes 30 minutes to fill, it will take 300 - 450 minutes for a household. She said that in the morning there are rushes which are reddish in color for the first water coming out of the bore hole which make it difficult to drink.
Her health condition has deteriorated and she cannot carry a jerry can of 20 liters on her head any more. She had an operation for appendiatisis long ago but now it has started to trouble her again which means she needs serious medical attention.
The water problem is not only for the older people, it is a general issue; the other sources of water such as a well and the running streams have dried up. This has forced small boys such as Peter Lomoro (6 years old) and his friend Michael Juma (5 years old) to move along this busy dirt road for 3 km to look for water for washing their school uniforms and taking baths, because water collected by the mothers and the elder sisters are used only for preparing food and our domestic work.
I followed her up to where she lived. What she needs is more than provision of clean drinking water; the roof of her grass thatch house is almost broken out by the wind and it is close to rain season in Yei River County.
Bari’ba is desperately in need of help. First the fixing of the borehole so that it functions well so that it allows her to get the water in as short a time as possible. Although the water committee is collecting some money for the maintenance of the borehole, the money is not enough for fixing the borehole. Secondly, a small help is needed for putting the roof of the house. Her age does not allow her to climb as high as the roof of the house to put some grass there.
I remember the promises made by the international communities, IMF, World Bank, Donor Nations, MDG that by the year 2012, 85% of the people who were living in the rural areas will have clean and safe water for drinking - that has not happened here in South Sudan. In South Sudan, the majority of the people did not feel the dividends of peace and independence of the nation because of lack of basic services rendered to them.
Testimony from Immanuel Model Primary School
The school is located at the western part of the Yei town near Immanuel Cathedral Yei Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS). It is a church founded school. The school has 23 teachers employed on full-time basis, both male and female teachers, and student teachers from Yei Teachers Training College (YTTC) coming for their practices here. The school has over 1700 pupils, boys and girls, ranging from primary grades one to seven.
Testimony from Sarah Yangi, 15 years old, a pupil of primary seven: “Since I started my primary one here we have been faced with water problems which hinder us from activities like sports and games, after playing you need to wash or clean." I thank God that we have the bore hole in our own school compound. I am so delighted because the borehole was drilled just in a short time when we were out for our holiday. Coming back to the school I found that the borehole was here ready for us to use. I thank God for that, I think we can now carry out our school activities very well.
Testimony from James Arike, 17 years old, a pupil of primary seven: "It has been so difficult to us to get drinking water, we normally get water from the Martha clinic, Yei Day School and one near the church boreholes. However, often we find the women are not kind; they will harass us and will not allow us to drink because we arrive in large numbers. This affects our studies time, as the break time is only 30 minutes so if we go very far we will find the other pupils are ready in class and we will not be allowed to attend that period, which is a very big loss. I thank God that the borehole is in our own school compound I think things are going to be much better this term. No more missing of lessons, clean drinking water valuable at any time you feel like drinking, and our health will improve."
Testimony from the school Headmaster, Mr. Taban Francis Amos of Immanuel Model Primary School, the largest school in the whole county: "I would like to start by thanking the Water is Basic project team for the quick, effective, and timely work that they have done.
"Since the establishment of this school we have been faced with problems of drinking water. It affects both the teachers and pupils. The water we are getting is from the neighboring communities, from Martha Clinic, Yei Day Secondary School and one near the church. When the pupils go for water to the above mentioned boreholes, they face numerous problems like harassment or sometimes find the borehole is locked, etc. The school provides breakfast (porridge) to the pupils but sometimes it is hard for them to eat because the water is not enough to cater for washing hands (they eat with their hands in Sudan).
"I am grateful to God for the help he has extended to the school by providing the school clean drinking water. The borehole is now right inside the school compound. We pray that God will continue to bless us by providing more funds for drilling more boreholes for some schools that have faced the same problems as we did. Indeed I am very happy and I consider this school to be a lucky one, because we have the borehole. We keep praying that in the nearest future we are going to install a submerge-pump to enable us to improve the school compound by planting trees and flowers."
A testimony from Rev. Onesimus Hakeem the school Parents Teachers Association (PTA) chairperson: “It is the true manifesto of God’s love to the children of this school.” I have been praying for a miracle to happen, so it does. Over the past years the school has faced problems of accessing drinking water for the pupils and the teachers. The teachers need water for washing their hands after every lesson, drinking, and preparing meals; the pupils need water for washing their body after cleaning or playing, it is good during the rainy season because the school harvests water from the roofs of the school building and stores it in the tanks, but it is difficult in the dry season.
Now that the school has its own borehole in the compound, as a church we want see the school become a role model to the other schools. And I strongly believe that these children are the agency of change and transformation in our churches, societies, communities and the whole nation. I would like to thank the well-wishers, the parents/guardians for sending their children to the school, the Christian Missionary Society Ireland for supporting and funding most of the projects in the school, and I thank Water is Basic for the good work they are doing for this nation. May God give us hearts of togetherness so that we unite and build this nation and I am for everybody whose effort has made this school become a successful learning environment for these children. Thanks and God Bless you all.
A WELL IS RESTORED IN YEI COUNTY
It’s hard to explain but sometimes being chased out of one’s home and country is a blessing. A few weeks ago we stopped by well #1 of 50 wells officially needing restoration in Yei County. We had gone there at the request of the new mayor who was pleading with us to work our way through his documented broken wells; some are 20 years old but could still be productive.
The heat comes in waves and the dust never seems to go away as we stand next to a well that has been broken for TWO YEARS. I notice Florence near by and ask if we can talk to her. Florence turns out to be smart, gregarious, resilient and a just a bit ticked off.
You see she has given up the opportunities that a 25 year old South Sudanese refugee has in neighboring Uganda to come home and care for her widowed mother and all of the children of both of her two dead brothers. To add misery-to-misery she is now trekking more than a mile away to the polluted Yei River for water to keep everyone alive…after she boils the water of course.
Within meters of her home is a well that should be pouring forth life but is now just a dirty, rusting obstacle to step around while making her way down to the river. Drilled in 2008, it has been broken since 2012 and everyone is waiting for the church group who drilled it to come back and repair “their” well. They are not coming back.
Please pay attention to this!
Within hours our crews have torn the well apart, replaced some broken parts and we are back, this time with the mayor, to celebrate this new hope splashing out around this community. The difference now if there is a full committee responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of this well.