WFSS to Conduct Formal Evaluation of Wells

WFSS board member Angelique Stevens in South Sudan.

WFSS board member Angelique Stevens in South Sudan.

Water for South Sudan began drilling wells in 2005, and has now drilled 229 wells as of February 3. The organization is committed to its mission to bring access to clean, safe water and hygiene education to the people of South Sudan and part of that mission is to ensure that all of our wells are operational and able to produce potable water.

WFSS board member Angelique Stevens approached the board last year with a proposal to use her sabbatical from her teaching position at Monroe Community College in Rochester, NY to travel to South Sudan and conduct a formal evaluation of wells. The planning for this trip took the better part of a year as Angelique and WFSS staff and board members researched ways to evaluate wells, developed an extensive survey and put together the team and tools necessary to gather solid data.

Angelique left Rochester on January 15 and was met by Salva Dut, WFSS Executive Director for East Africa Operations in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, on the 16th. They had meetings in the capital city and then headed to WFSS operations center in Wau on January 22 where Angelique made further preparations for the trip with WFSS Director of Field Operations Ater “Lion” Thiep. They developed an itinerary to reach as many villages as possible.

These girls no longer have to walk miles a day for water.

These girls no longer have to walk miles a day for water.

 

As of February 3 they have already visited ten wells and have found them all to be functioning and producing clean water.

We look forward to receiving the data, both quantitative and qualitative, to show us how our wells have impacted life in rural South Sudan since 2005. Angelique will return to the US in March and work with WFSS staff to compile and report on data.

Angelique has also been documenting her trip through a new blog on our website-- Angelique’s South Sudan Blog, where she shares photos, stories and thoughts on water, WFSS wells and life in South Sudan.

United Peace & Development Project Continues

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The first three wells of the 2014-15 season were drilled for our continuing United Peace and Development Project (UPDP), in partnership with Omaha-based nonprofit Aqua-Africa and Rotary International.

The UPDP brings together two nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping the people of South Sudan. Water for South Sudan was founded by Salva Dut, whose heritage is the Dinka tribe. Aqua-Africa’s founder is Buey Ray Tut, whose heritage is the Nuer tribe. The Dinka and Nuer have been in conflict for many years, and the most recent unrest in the country, which started in December, 2013, has largely pitted South Sudan President Salva Kiir's Dinka ethnic group against former Vice President Riek Machar's Nuer group.

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Salva and Buey see peace coming through working together in South Sudan. They are working together not as tribal members, but as South Sudanese, uniting to transform the lives of their fellow citizens, and to bring peace to this young nation through development.

“We are dedicated to our nation,” says Buey. “We are trying to make our country a better place.”   Salva agrees. “We need peace in our country,” says Salva.  “We want to show people how we can all work together.”

Four wells were drilled for the UPDP in the 2013-14 drilling season. Salva and Buey plan to drill three more wells together this season, bringing their total to 10 wells drilled in both Dinka and Nuer territories.

Schools Take The Iron Giraffe Challenge to Help WFSS

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Children around the world are helping the children of South Sudan by participating in the Iron Giraffe Challenge. As of February 3, 26 schools have taken the pledge to raise funds to help buy a new "Iron Giraffe."

The difficulty of drilling wells in the remote villages of South Sudan is that in many places there are no roads – sometimes even dirt roads do not exist. Driving in this terrain, along with the extreme heat, sand and dust of South Sudan, puts a tremendous strain on our vehicles, causing frequent breakdowns.  Our drilling rig—the “Iron Giraffe” as villagers call it in A LONG WALK TO WATER, by Linda Sue Park— is about seven years old. In order to continue our work, it is critical we replace the rig. The new rig will cost about $500,000. 

As a group, schools are a major source of support for WFSS. Salva is asking schools to help us in this effort by each helping raise a minimum of $1,000 this year. As demonstrated in A LONG WALK TO WATER, even the poorest children in America and other developed nations have incredible wealth compared to South Sudanese children.

The Iron Giraffe Challenge is a two-year campaign. Our 2015 goal is $50,000, and deadline for submitting fundraising for this school year is May 1. All participating schools will be recognized. All schools that raise at least $1,000 will be entered in a drawing to win a school visit from Salva Dut. More information on the Iron Giraffe Challenge can be found here.

Take the Iron Giraffe Challenge!

As the WFSS team prepares for another season drilling wells, we will once again rely on our powerful drilling rig to drill 100 to 300 feet down, often through rocky soil, to reach the clean water available in the refillable aquifer which supplies water to our wells.

Our current drilling rig has been operational since 2008. Our team knows that the rig will  have to be replaced soon, so we have launched the IRON GIRAFFE CHALLENGE to schools to help fund this effort.

WFSS issued the Challenge to schools to each raise at least $1,000 to help fund a new rig. Our goal for the 2014-15 school year is $50,000.  Fifty schools each raising $1,000 would bring us to our goal. If you would like to join the challenge, please visit our Iron Giraffe Challenge page.

We have also included some incentives for the challenge. If we meet our goal of $50,000 raised by May 1, each school that raises $1,000 will be entered into a drawing to win a visit by Salva Dut, WFSS founder and Executive Director for East Africa Operations.  

Over 300 schools have supported WFSS in the last 10 years, often inspired by Linda Sue Park’s A LONG WALK TO WATER, which tells Salva’s true story as one of the “Walking Boys” of Sudan, alongside a fictionalized account of a young girl in South Sudan today.

For more information, or to take the challenge, please visit the newly revised WFSS website here.

South Sudanese Unite for Peace and Development

WFSS & Aqua-Africa drilled four wells for the UPDP in 2014 drilling season. Plans are for six more in 2014-15.

WFSS & Aqua-Africa drilled four wells for the UPDP in 2014 drilling season. Plans are for six more in 2014-15.

Water for South Sudan helps transform lives in South Sudan by efficiently providing access to clean, safe water and improving hygiene practices in areas of great need. Clean water can be the first step to so many things, better health, education, and peace and development in the world’s newest country.

In a country with a history of conflict, including the unrest which began in December, 2013, WFSS sees the opportunity for water to help bring peace and development in a country in need of both. In this spirit, WFSS launched the United Peace and Development Project with Omaha-based Aqua-Africa drilling four wells in the 2014 drilling season.

The project grew out of a connection between WFSS Founder and Executive Director for East Africa Operations, Salva Dut, and Buey Ray Tut, Executive Director of Aqua-Africa. Salva’s family is of Dinka heritage, and Buey’s family is of Nuer heritage. The Dinka and Nuer have been in conflict for many years, including the unrest that started in December, 2013. Salva and Buey joined together to bring access to clean water, and to show that by working together as South Sudanese, everyone can benefit.

The United Peace and Development Project (UPDP) drilled four wells in the 2014 drilling season. WFSS and Aqua-Africa plan to drill six more wells this season, which is set to begin in December. Three wells will be in predominantly Dinka areas, and three will be in Nuer areas. Salva and Buey are committed to their work for all who need access to clean water.

Salva noted that when he and Buey traveled to Dinka villages last year, “the people welcomed him as their brother.” 

“We are dedicated to our nation,” says Buey. “We are trying to make our country a better place.”    Salva agrees. “We need peace in our country,” says Salva.  “We want to show people how we can all work together.”

Both organizations look forward to helping more clean water flow in South Sudan, for all the people of South Sudan. 

WFSS Prepares for 2014-15 Season

Loading supply truck in Kampala, Uganda. Team will then drive equipment to South Sudan.

Loading supply truck in Kampala, Uganda. Team will then drive equipment to South Sudan.

Water for South Sudan drilled its first well in the village of Akok in North Tonj County in 2005. We’ve come a long way in 10 years, but we are stilling bringing access to clean water one well at a time.

The 2014-15 drilling season is set to begin in December, but the WFSS team has been preparing for months. Equipment needs and repairs are always high on our list, and the team has been working on this since June. Next comes ordering crucial drilling supplies in Kampala, Uganda. The new country of South Sudan does not yet have the capability to meet all of our supply needs, so the WFSS team travels to Kampala before each drilling season to gather needed supplies, including pumps and pipes, and then drives north to South Sudan.

With 10 years’ experience of all the logistics, from equipment to travel to government regulations, our team knows there are always challenges that could delay them. There are numerous customs and taxation paperwork for the team to complete when they reach the border of South Sudan, and then they continue on to our compound in Wau. This year the team was slightly delayed in Kampala as a major bridge was out on the road between Juba (South Sudan's capital city) and Wau, WFSS operations center. As this is the only main road between these two urban centers, there was a long backup as trucks and other vehicles waited for the bridge to be repaired. The delays rippled all the way down to Kampala, as trucks were in short supply with so many being delayed on the Juba to Wau road.

As this newsletter is being written, the trucks have been loaded with supplies, and Salva is already preparing customs paperwork in Juba. Once the team completes the necessary paperwork they can continue on to the WFSS operations center in Wau.

WFSS goals for the 2014-15 season are to:

Drill up to 40 new wells in remote areas currently without access to clean water.

Train eight men and eight women in hygiene practices in each village where we work, giving them the tools to train others, spreading improvement in hygiene and decreasing disease as a result.

Continue the United Peace and Development Project. This season WFSS and Aqua-Africa plan to drill six more wells in Dinka and Nuer areas.

Begin a more formal monitoring and evaluation process.  A team will travel to South Sudan to visit a sampling of wells, including some of the first wells drilled by WFSS, and use a formal assessment tool to gather data. This process will be standardized for future use to ensure continuous improvement and sustainability of our operations.

 WFSS remains committed to helping the people of South Sudan. We look forward to another successful season!

WFSS Finishes Drilling Season with 40 New Wells

Celebrating a new well in the village of Akurbiok in Tonj North County in Warrap State.Water for South Sudan finished its 2013-14 drilling season in May with 40 new wells, bringing the grand total to 217 wells drilled by the organization since 2005. WFSS wells are now serving over 500,000 people in South Sudan. Each well brings access to clean water to thousands. A new well can also be the catalyst for development and a new future for each village.

The team faced the usual challenges of harsh conditions, lack of infrastructure in the new country and extreme temperatures, often reaching 120° and higher. This year there was the additional issue of conflict in parts of South Sudan. While some of the challenges slowed down the team, particularly equipment breakdowns, they were still able to reach their goal of 40 new wells.

Conflict broke out in the capital city of Juba in December, 2013, just as the WFSS drilling season was starting. Salva and the WFSS team were able to continue drilling as the unrest was primarily in eastern parts of the country, far from the WFSS drilling areas in Western Bahr el Ghazal and Warrap States.

WFSS continues to monitor the situation in South Sudan and strongly supports the ongoing peace process. Salva Dut, WFSS Founder and Executive Director for East African Operations, notes that all parties engaged in the peace process must continue working for a lasting peace.  He urges all advocating for peace, including the UN, US, Europe and IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development- an eight-country trading bloc based in Eastern Africa that is leading peace talks) to continue the pressure on the opposing parties in South Sudan to come to a peaceful solution.

"We should not give up on that," says Salva. "War comes and goes in South Sudan, but we will find a way to be peaceful. Peace will come from the people."

The WFSS Board of Directors expressed its gratitude to the WFSS South Sudan team at its recent annual board meeting, noting that in addition to drilling 40 wells, the team launched a new hygiene education project (see story below) and also continued the work of repairing wells drilled by other organizations.  In 2013-14 WFSS repaired 17 of those broken wells.

"The success of this season was unprecedented," noted WFSS Board President Christopher Moore at the 2014 Annual Meeting. "We are grateful to the entire team, and especially for the leadership of Salva Dut, Ater  Thiep and John Mourwel in achieving, and surpassing, the goals of this season." 

The team traveled to Rochester, New York, USA, in June for annual meetings with WFSS staff and board of directors.  They debriefed on this past season and are already planning for the 2014-15 season.

New WFSS Team Expands Impact with Hygiene Education

Villagers work together to identify hygiene problems and solutions.WFSS launched a Hygiene Education pilot project in January of 2014.  The project was highly successful and will be continued and expanded for the next drilling season.

Salva Dut launched the project in January with a new hygiene team made up of one man and one woman. The team traveled with the drilling crew to work with villagers to identify hygiene problems and solutions.

The team was able to visit 23 villages and 24 schools, reaching 150 students and 53 people from vulnerable groups such as those unable to read. The training helped communities to improve hygiene behaviors, prevent diarrheal disease and encourage community management of water and facilities.

The hygiene pilot project used a participatory model with the understanding that programs are more likely to be successful if they are determined by the community, rather than imposed by an agency. The method encourages participation of individuals in a group process, regardless of age, sex, educational background or social status. They are especially useful for encouraging the participation of women.  Participatory methods are designed to build self-esteem and a sense of responsibility for one’s decisions. Participants also learn from each other and develop respect as they share knowledge and skills.

WFSS is pleased to be able to expand the impact of its work with this project. Knowledge of safe hygiene practices will help villagers to stay healthy and benefit even more from the availability of clean water.

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