The WFSS teams are continuing their work in South Sudan, bringing access to clean water and hygiene education to those in need.
As of February 28, the WFSS Drilling Team had completed five new wells, and was finishing the sixth. This year the drilling team is focusing on drilling wells in school areas.
The WFSS Rehab Team, a new pilot program this year, has completed the rehabilitation of five of our oldest wells. Our 2015 well evaluation project showed us that some of the oldest wells needed to have the cement platforms surrounding the wells repaired. The new rehab team has set out to repair these wells to our newer design specifications. WFSS is now using a stronger cement mixture for all well platforms, and has also lengthened the channel leading from the pumps down to the drinking pools for animals.
This year we have two hygiene education teams in the field, traveling with both drilling and rehab teams, where they work with villagers to identify hygiene practices in need of improvement.
Although the news out of South Sudan continues to show the struggles of the new nation, with famine declared in two counties in Unity State, WFSS has been able to continue our operations. We are in regular contact with our teams who report that they are safe, and able to travel and continue regular operations.
Thank you to all of our supporters around the world who enable our work.
We will continue to update you on the progress of this season. Please check back here for regular updates. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Sign up for the WFSS email news here.
The months of planning and preparation are finally behind us and the 2017 season has officially begun. The drilling team has drilled the first well of the season and our new well rehab team has repaired one of our oldest wells. Our two hygiene education teams are working alongside them both, helping to improve hygiene practices.
The drilling team plans to drill up to 40 new wells. They have begun in Waubaai County, in the new Wau State and will also drill in Kuac North County, in the new Gogrial State, to deliver on their promise to the county commissioner and village chiefs last season, when we did not have enough time to drill wells there. This year's drilling will focus on schools and new county and payam headquarters.
Our new rehab team will work on repairing some of our oldest wells, drilled as far back as 2005, in Alabek County, in the new Tonj State.
Hygiene Education Continues & Expands
As we have done since 2014, the WFSS Hygiene Education Team will travel alongside the drilling team. New this year is a second hygiene education team, to travel with the rehab team. In every village our hygiene teams train eight people (four men and four women). Our hygiene educators work as facilitators, and invite community participation to help groups identify issues of importance, and problems to work on; identify possible solutions; select appropriate options; develop an implementation plan; and, evaluate the outcome of the plan. Three main areas of education often focus on hand-washing, keeping clean water clean, and safe disposal of stools.
Since 2014 the WFSS Hygiene Team has brought hygiene education training to over 100 villages, training over 800 villagers who are then equipped to train others in their villages, which then continues to expand the impact of clean water.
New WFSS Leadership Council
The ever-challenging climate in which we operate, including a lack of basic infrastructure, and logistics challenges, require creative thinking and dedication, which are supplied by our team in South Sudan, and our Operations support in the US.
New this year is our Leadership Council in South Sudan, led by Country Director Ater Akol Thiep and Assistant Country Director AJ Agok. We created the council, made up of our six managers in South Sudan, to help oversee operations on the ground.
Operations are still overseen by US Director of Operations Don Fairman, but we are moving towards even greater local control in South Sudan. Our team in South Sudan knows the people, language, customs, and land in which they operate, and often know best how to address the many issues that arise.
As WFSS continues our work in bringing access to clean water and hygiene education, we are also researching ways to bring access to sanitation (toilets and latrines) to those we serve. In 2017, we will continue gathering information on how we might best expand into this area, possibly collaborating with others.
In other good news, we have already been able to purchase two trucks and a crew vehicle with funds raised from our Watering the Seeds of Change capital campaign. Next up is the process to begin ordering our new drilling rig.
Thanks to our supporters across the US, and around the world, WFSS is able to continue our work, transforming lives in South Sudan. We look forward to bringing access to clean water and hygiene education to even more people this year. WFSS has now drilled 283 wells since 2005, and we look forward to reaching our next milestone of 300 wells.
The WFSS Senior Management Team is on their way back from their annual purchasing trip in Kampala, Uganda. The team purchased needed drilling supplies and met with Senior Advisor Salva Dut to finalize plans for drilling, well rehabilitation and hygiene education.
The WFSS team is in regular contact with government officials and security contacts to assess the safety and security of areas in which we work and travel. WFSS plans to drill up to 40 new wells, rehabilitate up to 20 older wells, provide hygiene education in every village in which we drill, and continue to research a pilot school sanitation project.
WFSS continues to advocate for the people we serve, and urges a peaceful resolution to conflict in the country.
Our work is enabled by supporters in all 50 states and 33 other countries, including individuals, schools, faith-based organizations and civic groups.
The Water for South Sudan team is busy preparing for the upcoming season, our 13th!!
Our Leadership Council, led by Country Director Ater Akol Thiep ("Lion"), and Ajang Agok (AJ), have been working with our US based Director of Operations to secure all the supplies needed for drilling, rehabilitation and hygiene education. We anticipate starting the season in late December or early January.
The drilling team, led this year by AJ, plans to drill up to 40 new wells. Plans include up to five additional wells for our United Peace and Development Project (UPDP) with Aqua-Africa. This joint project has already drilled 12 new wells in different tribal areas. We are also working with Aqua-Africa to develop an additional component of peace and reconciliation talks for the villages in which we drill. Some of these wells could be in repatriation areas, where people of different tribal backgrounds are returning home, after having fled for safety. The installation of a well can serve as a starting point for conversations to help air grievances and resolve disputes, leading to greater peace and stability.
Lion will lead our well rehabilitation team as they work on repairing and strengthening the cement platforms of up to 20 new wells, in response to the findings of our 2015 well evaluation survey. The improved well design is now being implemented on all new wells too.
Mathew Akuar, WFSS Hygiene Team Manager, is preparing for two hygiene teams this year-- one to travel with the drilling team, and one to travel with the rehab team. Hygiene education is a vital piece of our work, and ensures that clean water stays clean, and that the impact of fresh water goes as far as possible.
In addition, WFSS is in the early stages of researching a pilot sanitation project, to provide latrines in a school. Sanitation is a vital piece of WASH (Water, Sanitation, Hygiene) work, and helps improve lives in so many ways.
WFSS thanks all of our supporters for enabling our work as we water the seeds of change in South Sudan. Please check back here for updates. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and sign up for email updates.
The WFSS staff and Board of Directors in Rochester, New York, is in daily contact with our South Sudan team. Our team has been busy planning for the 2016-17 season, and have been regularly reporting to us that they are safe in Wau, and that areas around them are calm.
The Leadership Team in Wau, along with WFSS Founder Salva Dut, continually monitor the situation in their immediate area, and in South Sudan in general, and all agree that we should continue our programs in South Sudan. They have assured us that they have proper security measures in place.
WFSS is grateful to our supporters across the US, and around the world, for enabling our work. We look forward to continuing our mission to transform lives in South Sudan. Please check back here for further updates. You may also sign up for our email newsletter here, and also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for other news, photos and updates.
WFSS continues to monitor the news out of South Sudan, and is in daily contact with our team at our Operations Center in Wau. The team is safe and has not been in any danger. We are deeply concerned about the events in South Sudan and urge all leaders to work for peace in South Sudan.
As we do each summer, we are currently planning for the upcoming 2016-17 season, which will include drilling new wells, providing hygiene education and rehabbing the cement platforms on some of our older wells. We are also researching a pilot sanitation project which we are planning to launch in the next year.
WFSS is pleased to report that 22 new wells were drilled in 2016. Our team in South Sudan worked with US Operations to redesign and improve the platforms around the wells. Working on the design, plus supplier delays led us to a later start this year, but the team pushed on at the end of April, and into May to complete 20 new wells.
In addition, our partnership with Omaha-based Aqua-Africa continued with 2 additional wells being drilled for the United Peace and Development Project. These wells were drilled in Central Equatoria State, expanding the reach of both WFSS and the UPDP.
The 2016 season is winding down as it appears that the rainy season is on the way. 16 villages received wells and hygiene education. 20 wells repaired.
Our team has drilled 16 wells so far and is currently working on finishing and sealing the wells. WFSS took the time this season to work on the design and sustainability of our wells and we are pleased to report that our new design is being implemented in all new wells.
The new well design grew out of the 2015 well evaluation survey, which revealed signs of erosion on the cement platforms. Our team spent the fall and early winter refining the design. That planning time, along with some supplier delays, led to a later start to our season. While the team waited to begin drilling they used that time to repair 20 local wells drilled by other organizations, helping to maintain access to clean water for those in need.
“We know that we have a much better process now,” says US Operations Director and Board member Don Fairman. “Greater sustainability of our wells means that in the long run we’ll be able to help even more people as our wells last longer and have fewer breakdowns.”
The WFSS Hygiene Team traveled alongside the drilling team and provided hygiene education and training to every village which received a well. The hygiene team is also involved in our sustainability efforts, and will work to help educate villagers on the importance of maintaining the well and constructing fencing to protect it. Future WFSS evaluations will include how well villages continue their hygiene training and practices.
While we didn’t reach our usual number of wells drilled this season, the information we’ve learned, along with our improved well design, will have a significant impact on future wells, and wells which we’ll rehabilitate. As we continue to learn and improve, we’ll be sharing our knowledge with other water drilling operations as well as the South Sudanese Ministry which oversees water access and management.
As one drilling season ends, planning for the next one begins. WFSS will continue improving the technical sustainability of wells which also is key to protecting the aquifer which supplies them. Our hygiene team will continue its work and we will look to develop a pilot sanitation project.
As we look ahead, our well redesign and retrofitting is in place. We have unwavering attention on developing our South Sudanese team’s skills and talent. We’re seeking to expand our collaborations with other NGOs. And the numbers of people who contribute time, money and skills to our now 12 year old organization continues to grow and amaze.
With all this momentum, our mission of partnering with the people of South Sudan to empower and transform their lives is stronger than ever. Thank you from Salva and our South Sudan and US leadership and staff for helping make that possible.
The WFSS Drilling Team is continuing with this season's plan to drill wells in two steps as we finalize new design plans and materials for the well platforms. Our drilling team has been working hard on the first step, drilling boreholes and inserting and capping pipes. Our well platform team will then seal and finish the wells and well platforms.
As of March 9, 2016, the drilling team has completed 14 boreholes this season and is working on #15. The WFSS Hygiene Team has traveled with them, providing hygiene training in every village in which we have drilled. Both teams will head back to our compound in Wau when they finish borehole #15. This was our pre-determined mark to stop drilling until supplies arrive for our platform finishing team. Once all supplies are in hand our two teams, drilling and platform, will work on sealing and finishing the 15 wells. If time and conditions allow, they will then continue to drill and finish additional wells until the rainy season begins.
WFSS is working to increase the efficiency and sustainability of our wells, in response to information found in our 2015 well evaluation survey. We are pleased to report that our wells are all working and producing clean water, and we look forward to even higher quality as we work to help transform lives in South Sudan.
In other news, look for a special announcement from Salva and WFSS on World Water Day, Tuesday March 22!
As of March 1, the WFSS Drilling Team has drilled 11 new boreholes, and also repaired 7 wells near the WFSS compound in Wau. Our Hygiene Team has also completed hygiene training in each village in which we have drilled.
Our teams have been working hard to review and improve our drilling processes, paying special attention to our process of sealing the wells, and installing the cement platforms around the wells, in response to findings from our 2015 well evaluation survey.
Read more about WFSS plans for 2016, including improved processes and greater sustainability, here.
Water for South Sudan will start its 11th drilling season in the next month, with its most ambitious agenda to date. Plans include drilling up to 40 new wells and conducting hygiene training in each village in which we drill. This year we will also launch a pilot well rehabilitation team which plans to repair up to 20 cement platforms on previously drilled wells.
WFSS has been drilling wells since 2005 and has now drilled 259 wells in South Sudan. We now have two Field Operations Managers, Ater Akol "Lion" Thiep and Ajang Abraham "AJ" Agok. Both are former "Lost Boys" of Sudan who were resettled in the US as refugees, but have chosen to go back to South Sudan to help their young country develop.
Lion and AJ will start the drilling season together, working to implement a slightly revised well platform design, which is the result of our findings from our 2015 well evaluation survey in which we were able to visit 80 of our wells. The survey showed us that all 80 wells visited are functioning, and even wells that had experienced breakdowns were able to be repaired within a few days. This is a testament to the sustainable way in which WFSS drills wells, and then trains villagers to maintain and repair them.
Additional findings from the well survey showed that a number of the cement platforms around the wells were showing signs of wear and erosion. Our US Operations team, led by Don Fairman, volunteer Director of Operations and WFSS Board member, decided to revise the platform design for greater strength and durability.
"Water for South Sudan is committed to bringing access to fresh water in the most economical and sustainable way," says Fairman. "This is the perfect time for us to use what we have learned to improve our process and procedures."
Fairman and fellow Board member and Operations Committee member John De Seyn are also extremely aware of the responsibility to keep WFSS wells functioning and well-sealed. The WFSS drilling team takes care to ensure that the water source for the wells, a deep and refillable underground aquifer, remains uncontaminated by our process.
Once the drilling team has mastered the process for the new platform design, we will launch a pilot well platform rehabilitation team, which will start working on some of the most eroded platforms. The team's goal for the season is to rehabilitate up to 20 older wells.
WFSS remains committed to transforming lives in South Sudan. We look forward to the upcoming season in which we will continue providing access to fresh water. We are pleased to continue our hygiene education program which trains villagers in improved hygiene practices. These trainers can then train others, thus extending the impact of clean water.
WFSS thanks all of our supporters, from every state in the US, and 29 other countries. Together we are helping a fragile young country begin to take its first steps.
As the 2014-15 drilling season was winding down, WFSS Director of Operations and Board Member Don Fairman traveled from Rochester, New York to Wau, South Sudan to meet with our drilling team and staff. Don worked with both of our Field Operations Managers, Ater Akol Thiep, and Ajang “AJ” Abraham Agok. They worked to improve procedures and efficiencies in our Wau office. Then, when the drilling team returned to our operations center, Don and the team went over equipment and vehicle needs, looking at maintenance and repair needs, and planning for the next drilling season.
Findings from our well evaluation report show a need to improve the concrete platforms that surround each well. We will launch a new well rehabilitation team this season. Ater and AJ will start the drilling season together, drilling new wells using a new platform design, and an improved method for mixing concrete. Once they have mastered the new process and design, one of the managers will lead our newly formed well rehabilitation team, while the other will continue to lead the drilling team.
The goal of this new pilot project will be to re-do the concrete platforms of some of our oldest wells and those most in need of repair.
While significant resources will go to the critically important work of platform rehabilitation, WFSS will make every effort to drill up to 40 new wells this coming season, and continue the work of the Hygiene Education Team. We will continue to educate villagers on maintaining wells and their surrounding areas, sharing improved practices we have developed over our 10 year history.
In 2015-16 WFSS plans to:
Drill up to 40 new wells, using a new concrete platform design
Launch a pilot well rehab team to rehabilitate 20 older wells, installing new concrete platforms and fencing
Conduct hygiene education with each new well drilled
Work with Aqua-Africa on the continuing United Peace & Development Project
Improve efficiencies in operations
Explore opportunities and collaborations in South Sudan
As more wells are drilled in South Sudan, the total number of people served by each well has begun to decrease. This is an important quality of life issue. Whereas some of the earliest wells might have served over 3,000 people, numbers served by new wells this past season averaged under 1,000 people per well. As more people have access to fresh water wells, they also have access to more water, and can begin to use water for more uses, including gardening and farming. Our well evaluation survey showed us that gardens, and an additional source of fresh food, were one result of more clean water.
Our US administration team also plans to travel to South Sudan this coming year, to meet with government officials, and non-governmental organizations doing development and humanitarian work in South Sudan. We look forward to continued collaboration in the WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) sector, and expanding our impact.
The WFSS drilling team finished the 2014-15 drilling season with 40 new wells. Operating in what continues to be one of the most challenging environments in the world, the team persevered through many obstacles to achieve their goal. They also reached a new milestone as our well number topped 250. WFSS has now drilled 257 wells since 2005.
"When we drilled the first well in my father's village, in 2005, I never dreamed we would drill 100 wells, and now we have drilled over 250," says WFSS Founder Salva Dut. "We have come a long way in ten years."
Our team started drilling in December, 2014, at the beginning of the dry season, when the ground dries out, and our heavy equipment can travel to remote villages in need of fresh water. The first three wells of the season were drilled for the United Peace and Development Project (UPDP), with Omaha, Nebraska-based Aqua-Africa, and also supported by funds from Rotary International. Aqua-Africa is led by Buey Ray Tut, who is originally from South Sudan, and of Nuer heritage. Buey and WFSS Founder Salva Dut, who is of Dinka heritage, have brought their organizations together to drill water wells in different tribal areas of South Sudan.
Salva and Buey are devoted to their homeland, and its people, and see water wells, and development, as pathways to peace. "We are all South Sudanese," says Salva. "Working together will help our new country grow up and take its place in the world."
After drilling the UPDP wells, the team continued, traveling into remote areas to drill borehole wells. WFSS drills deep into the earth to reach a refillable aquifer. The wells drilled this year were, on average, about 60 meters deep, which is almost 200 feet. WFSS is able to drill to such depths because of the heavy duty drilling rig it uses.
Our drilling team typically spends three to four days in each village, drilling the well, installing pipes and a pump, then sealing the top of the borehole by creating a cement platform and trough. The finishing touch is an engraved seal, with the date, and the name of the sponsoring donor. Well sponsorship is available to schools, faith-based organizations, civic groups and individuals who donate at least $5,000. The full cost of a well is $15,000.
The WFSS Hygiene Team, launched in 2014, also traveled with the drilling team to each village this season, training villagers in hygiene education and helping them to improve hygiene practices. Villagers who complete the training are then ready to train others. Improved hygiene helps expand the impact of clean water, and further bolsters the health of a village.
Extreme weather conditions, with temperatures well over 100°, non-existent roads and lack of infrastructure all contribute to the challenges of drilling in South Sudan. Our team must gather all supplies in Uganda before the season starts. Equipment often breaks down in the extreme heat and dust of South Sudan. Getting replacement parts to South Sudan is an additional challenge. We often locate parts in the US and then try to ship them in an economical and timely manner.
"It's always interesting," notes WFSS Chief Operating Officer Don Fairman. "You can never assume anything. We must always be ready with a new contingency plan or alternative approach."
And just as one drilling season ends, the planning for another one begins. Fairman has recently returned from a trip to South Sudan, where he met with Salva, Director of Field Operations Ater "Lion" Thiep, and Assistant Field Operations Supervisor Ajang "AJ" Agok to review equipment, processes and personnel in South Sudan. It was a beneficial trip for WFSS and will be most helpful as we head into the 2015-16 drilling season.
WFSS support continues to grow around the world, with donors now representing all 50 US States and 27 other countries.
Dut is grateful for the support which enables this work.
"Thanks to all the people, all over the world, we are making a difference in South Sudan."
Water for South Sudan is pleased to announce that our drilling team has recently completed our 250th well.
WFSS has been bringing access to fresh water in South Sudan since 2005. We have come a long way since our inaugural season in 2005, when seven wells were drilled, including the very first well, drilled in Founder Salva Dut's village. Salva was inspired by his father, who was gravely ill from waterborne disease, to provide clean water in his homeland.
Each well that is drilled transforms the lives of the villagers for whom it is drilled. A nearby source of potable water means women and girls do not have to walk miles for water that is often dirty or contaminated. Fresh water means all villagers are healthier, particularly children. Diarrhea caused by poor sanitation, lack of hygiene, and unsafe drinking water, is the second leading cause of child death globally, and the leading cause of child death in sub-Saharan Africa.
WFSS, led by Salva Dut, a former "Lost Boy" of Sudan, continues to provide access to clean water, and hygiene education in remote villages in South Sudan. Salva is joined by Director of Field Operations Ater "Lion" Thiep, and Assistant Field Operations Supervisor Ajang "AJ" Agok, and supported by a drilling team and operations center staff in South Sudan. Working in the newest nation in the world presents constant challenges, but WFSS, through the tireless efforts of its South Sudan drilling team, has been able to drill wells for the last 10 years.
“I am so thankful to all the people who have supported me to be able to help the people of South Sudan,” says Dut. “I started this as a small project to help my father’s village, and now we are helping hundreds of thousands of people with over 250 wells drilled. I am sure there are children who would have died if they did not have the clean water that WFSS has provided since 2005.”
The need for clean water in South Sudan remains great. As the 2014-15 comes to a close, with the start of the rainy season in South Sudan, plans are already underway for the next season's drilling, set to begin in December. WFSS is supported by donors in all 50 US states and 24 other countries.
The 2014-15 season has gotten off to a great start in South Sudan. As of February 3, the WFSS drilling team has completed 12 wells, on the way to a goal of 40 new wells. Each new well will brings access to fresh clean water for up to 3,000 people. A nearby source of potable water can transform the lives of all who have access to it.
Drilling was able to start in December thanks to the tireless efforts of our team in South Sudan, with tremendous support from our operations team back in Rochester, NY. Routine maintenance and repairs were made to drilling equipment. The team was able to buy drilling supplies in Kampala, Uganda. Additional parts were sourced and shipped to South Sudan.
One of the wells drilled was in Aker Adoor, sponsored by Monroe Community College and Avon Middle School from Rochester, NY. Achan, a South Sudanese woman shared her thoughts on the new well with us.
“I came to the well today because I need the water to soften the reeds for my basket. I will sell it with another one tomorrow at the market. I get 25 South Sudanese pounds ($5.00 US dollars) per each basket.
“I used to walk two hours to a well in another village for my drinking water. I had to go three or four times a day with my daughter and I could not spend any time making baskets. My husband died seven years ago and so I must do all the work to take care of my children and my compound.
"Now that there is water close by, I can spend half my days making baskets and my daughter can go to school to become educated. Later today we will come back to the well to wash our clothes and collect water for dinner.”
Clean water changes everything in South Sudan.
The Water for South Sudan team is hard at work preparing for its 10th drilling season. The team was recently in Kampala, Uganda, buying supplies for the drilling season. They have also been doing repairs and procuring parts for the drilling rig and support vehicles.
Soon they will begin meeting with local county officials to begin the assessment process that will determine the areas in which we drill. Then, once again, more fresh water will begin to flow in South Sudan.
Water for South Sudan has finished another successful drilling season in May, completing 40 new wells for a new grand total of 217 wells drilled since 2005.
WFSS has been closely monitoring the political and military situation in South Sudan since violence broke out on December 15, 2013 . We are hopeful that peace negotiations will help to bring an end to the turmoil. We are also in close contact with members of our drilling team who tell us that they feel completely safe in Wau and the surrounding drilling areas. Wau is in Western Bar el Ghazal, and away from the unrest in other areas of the country.
WFSS Founder and Director of East African Operations, Salva Dut, tells us that he and his fellow "Lost Boys" who have gone back to South Sudan have been through war and don't want to go back. They want their new country to be at peace and be able to grow and they need the international community to help. "We need the good guidance of the world to prosper and develop," says Salva.
Drilling manager Ater "Lion" Thiep reports that they have had no problems in Wau, home to WFSS compound. He said they have not experienced any problems and that the situation is normal and very secure in the area around Wau. Compound Manager John Mourwel confirms this, saying it is "business as usual" in Wau.
WFSS will continue its mission of delivering direct, transformative and sustainable quality-of-life service to more people of South Sudan by efficiently providing access to clean, safe water in areas of great need.
On January 23, 2014, a cease fire was signed between the government of South Sudan and rebels loyal to the country’s ousted former vice president. Read more about conflict here. Peace talks progressed through April, but were delayed again. There is continued international pressure for both sides to participate in peace talks. Read more about status of peace talks here.