2017 Season Begins! New Wells, Rehabbed Wells & Hygiene Education

The WFSS team with the first new well of the 2017 season.

The WFSS team with the first new well of the 2017 season.

The months of planning and preparation are finally behind us and the 2017 season has officially begun. The drilling team has begun drilling wells; the rehab team has begun rehabilitating some of our oldest wells; and 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.

WFSS Prepares for 13th Season

WFSS team at planning meeting in kampala. 

WFSS team at planning meeting in kampala. 

When one season ends, the WFSS team begins planning for the next. Plans are well underway for WFSS's 13th season, set to start in early January.

When we finished the 2015-16 season in May, the South Sudan team in Wau, supported by our Director of Operations, Board members and staff in Rochester, NY, immediately began planning for this coming season. Team members reviewed design improvements and discussed ways to help villagers protect wells and prolong sustainability. Discussions included ways to include fencing or other protections around the wells. Improvements will be implemented this season, both for new wells, and for rehabilitating older wells

wfss country director ater thiep, hygiene manager mathew akuar and assistant country director aj agok with loaded supply truck in kampala

wfss country director ater thiep, hygiene manager mathew akuar and assistant country director aj agok with loaded supply truck in kampala

Preparing for the upcoming season also includes substantial logistics to ensure our teams have all the supplies they need to drill and rehabilitate wells and provide hygiene education. The South Sudan Management Team, including Country Director Ater "Lion" Thiep, Assistant County Director Ajang "AJ" Agok, are currently in Kampala, Uganda, where they are procuring necessary supplies for drilling and rehabilitation of wells. The supplies will then be trucked north to South Sudan in time to start drilling in early January. In addition, WFSS has recently sent a large shipping container from Rochester, NY with additional supplies that are best obtained in the US.

In addition to drilling new wells, WFSS's new rehab team will begin visiting some of our oldest wells to perform repairs as needed, and bring wells up to new design specifications. WFSS will continue our hygiene education with two hygiene teams. Teams will help villagers improve hygiene practices  in every village in which we drill, and in every village in which we rehabilitate a well. Research plans are also continuing into a possible sanitation project.

WFSS also plans to continue the success of our United Peace and Development Project (UPDP) with Omaha, Nebraska- based Aqua-Africa. The UPDP plan includes more wells. We are also exploring ways to include peace and reconciliation talks in areas where we will drill UPDP wells.

Thanks to our supporters from across the US and around the world we are able to continue in our mission to transform lives in South Sudan.

Celebrate in Rochester & Boston with Salva this November!

WFSS Founder Salva Dut will travel to the US in November for a few special events with supporters in Rochester, NY and Boston.

Salva starts his visit with Linda Sue Park at the Rochester Children's Book Festival on Saturday, Nov. 12 from 9:30-11 a.m. at Monroe Community College. The festival's 20th anniversary will honor New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water by Newbery Award-winning author Linda Sue Park. The festival's theme is Books Change Readers, Readers Change the World. More information available here.

Rooted in Rochester, Blooming in South SudanWFSS Celebration Brunch Sunday, Nov. 13. Join Salva and WFSS at the beautiful ARTISANworks in Rochester, NY as we celebrate the closing of our capital campaign. Meet Salva and hear updates from South Sudan. There will be a live auction of artwork, African handcrafts and WFSS photos and art for sale, and more. Information and tickets available here

Meet Salva & WFSS in Boston!  WFSS will host a special celebration at Boston's Metropolitan Waterworks Museum on Thursday, Nov. 17, starting with a VIP Reception from 6-7 p.m., followed by a Celebration from 7-8:30 p.m. Meet Salva and get updates on our work in South Sudan. More information, tickets and registration available here.

Finally, on Saturday, Nov. 19, Salva will speak at TEDxBeaconStreet, followed by a special teen event in Brookline. Watch the TEDx talk, or register to attend at TEDxBeaconStreet website.

WFSS Remains Committed to South Sudan

Water for South Sudan has been an advocate for the people of South Sudan since our founding in 2003, and we continue to assist in the development of the world’s newest nation. Since we began drilling water wells in 2005, we have never wavered from our mission: to deliver direct, transformative and sustainable quality-of-life service to the people of South Sudan by efficiently providing access to clean, safe water and improving hygiene and sanitation practices in areas of great need.

Our grassroots development work starts with access to fresh water, and now includes hygiene education and sanitation services, which all help bring greater health and stability to those we serve. With these efforts, we strive to help the South Sudanese people become more capable of determining their own futures, and that of their fledgling country.
 
As a small nonprofit organization focused on one country, we continue to grow along with this infant country. As we work to help the first steps of development, we also aim to help our team members in South Sudan develop, following the lead of our Founder, Salva Dut.

We join the world in supporting a peaceful resolution to the unrest in South Sudan. We also join the world in condemning corruption at all levels in the country.

WFSS Team Safe. Planning for 2016-17 Season

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. The Leadership Team in Wau, along with WFSS Founder Salva Dut, continually monitor the situation in their immediate area, and in the entire country, and all agree that we should continue our programs in South Sudan. Our teams have proper security measures in place and continually work to ensure the safety of all team members and our entire operations center.

WFSS is grateful to all who enable our work. Thanks to the generosity of our ever growing donor base, with supporters now in all 50 US states and 33 other countries, we are poised to continue the work that has impacted more than 300,000 people since 2005.

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, and also follow us on FacebookTwitter and for other news, photos and updates.
 

WFSS Continues to Transform Lives & Water the Seeds of Change in South Sudan

WFSS Team & United Peace & Development Project Provide 23 New Wells in 2016. 282 Wells Drilled Since 2005.

WFSS IS SUPPORTED BY DONORS IN ALL 50 US STATES, AND 32 OTHER COUNTRIES.

WFSS IS SUPPORTED BY DONORS IN ALL 50 US STATES, AND 32 OTHER COUNTRIES.

WFSS is pleased to announce the conclusion of another successful season. We continue to make progress in every way-- improving design and delivery of services, developing our employees both in the US and South Sudan, which all leads to greater sustainability for the organization, and the work that we do, and enables us to better serve the people of South Sudan. 

The WFSS  team was able to drill 20 new wells, and our United Peace and Development Project with Aqua-Africa added an additional three wells for a season total of 23 new wells. Since 2005, WFSS has provided 282 wells in remote villages in South Sudan.

As our number of wells drilled, and people served, grows, so do the supporters around the world who enable our work. With the recent addition of Cambodia, we are pleased to announce that 32 countries, in addition to the US, support WFSS.

As our South Sudan and US operations teams work to always improve our processes, they also strive to make better use of time and resources. When the start of this year's season was delayed, the drilling team used the extra time to repair 20 wells drilled by other organizations near our compound in Wau.

We thank our South Sudan management team, Salva Dut, Executive Director for East African Operations, Ater Akol Thiep and Ajang Abrahm Agok, our Field Operations Managers, Abraham Majur Laam, our Operations Center Manager, and Mathew Akuar, our Hygiene Team Manager, for all they do to support our mission.

WFSS Hygiene Education Expands Impact of Clean Water

boys bathing in gaikou village

boys bathing in gaikou village

Since 2014, the WFSS hygiene team has traveled with the drilling team to help villagers improve hygiene practices in every village in which we drill. The hygiene team trains a team of eight people (four men and four women) who can then train others. The WFSS team works with the trainers to identify areas in need of improvement in their village. Improved hygiene helps expand the impact of clean water, and leads to better health for all.

In Gaikou village, Achan Aguei told the team that villagers were suffering for a long time from drinking stagnant water, sometimes the same water where people might bathe and clean their clothes and utensils.  "We were not aware that you can wash the inside of jerry cans with ash, gravel and soap," she said.

WFSS hygiene team helps villagers in gaikou identify hygiene areas needing improvement

WFSS hygiene team helps villagers in gaikou identify hygiene areas needing improvement

Gau Majok, also of Gaikou village,  noted that his community did not know that contaminated water made them sick. 

"After Water for South Sudan, drilled a well for us and trained us about water and hygiene management, we realized that we were drinking water with germs and we had bad hygiene at our homes before and from now on we will call a meeting to tell everybody about water and new hygiene promoting ways, as taught by Water for South Sudan hygiene team, which is the first time for us to receive well/borehole and new hygiene promotion training. I appreciate Water for South Sudan, administration and management where ever you are, thank you so much for help."

Achan noted how much life can improve with hygiene training. 

"Now when we compare our life before, with simple things that Water for South Sudan has shown us with two days training, it helps me now to know what is good and bad. Thanks to Water for South Sudan. I hope Water for South Sudan will help other people in South Sudan like us also."

 

United Peace & Development Project Continues

The United Peace & Development Project (UPDP) began in 2014, with Water for South Sudan and Omaha, Nebraska based Aqua-Africa (A-A) coming together to drill water wells in South Sudan. The leaders of the two organizations, Salva Dut (WFSS) and Buey Ray Tut (A-A) saw the value of working together as South Sudanese to help their new country develop, despite being from the two major tribes, Dinka and Nuer, who have historically been in conflict. Since December 2013, the unrest and power struggles in the country have centered on issues between leaders from the two tribes.

united peace & development well drilled in 2015

united peace & development well drilled in 2015

The UPDP continued through 2016, with three new wells being drilled, for a total of 12 wells drilled overall, in various parts of the country, in different tribal areas.

One of the 2016 wells was drilled in Langabu, in Central Equatoria State, where Limoba Jory, a widowed mother of two, cultivates and sells charcoal for a living. When asked about the challenges of water, she pointed to a six foot hole surrounded by thirsty bees. She explained how she must leave her children home alone even though there is a threat of child kidnappers.

“I wait in queue before the sun rises and when it’s my turn, I have to dig until I find water,” she said.

After the completion of the drilling, the UPDP team returned to follow-up and asked how the conflict in South Sudan has affected people. Mrs. Jory explained that the conflict has not impacted their day to day living as they are removed from conflict areas. But she noted the value of getting clean water, and the impact of those providing it.

“We hear a lot of things but the only thing I know for a fact about the Nuer and Dinka now is that they give my children clean water.” 

WFSS and A-A will continue working on the UPDP, bringing access to fresh water, along with peace and development, in the newest country in the world.

Join Salva & WFSS in Seattle June 8

Our first prize winner in the 2015-16 Iron Giraffe Challenge was Daniel Bagley Elementary School in Seattle. We have now scheduled their award-- a visit from Salva to the school in June.

We are pleased to announce that Daniel Bagley Elementary School will also host a community potluck event and fundraiser for WFSS  on Wednesday, June 8 from 5-7 pm. Event is free and all WFSS friends are invited to join us.

The event will include a potluck dinner with fundraising opportunities for WFSS, on the grounds of the school. Potluck dinner is optional. Bring food to share if you'd like, or just come. Salva will make some remarks at 6 pm.

Thank you to the Daniel Bagley Elementary School community for hosting this event. We look forward to connecting with supporters in the Seattle area.

Date:  Wednesday, June 8
Time:  5:00 - 7:00 pm PT, with remarks by Salva at 6 pm
Place: Daniel Bagley Elementary School, 7821 Stone Avenue North, Seattle, WA 98103
Cost:   Event is free.
RSVP:  Facebook event page

2016 Season: A Focus on Greater Sustainability of WFSS Wells

As the 2016 season comes to a close, our work continues to make a significant impact in the lives of hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese, with a new total of 275 wells drilled since 2005.

 

2015 Well Evaluation Survey Shaped 2016 Planning and Drilling Operations Improvement

The 2016 drilling, hygiene and rehabilitation season was significantly impacted by our first ever well evaluation survey. In February and March of 2015, WFSS Board Member Angelique Stevens and WFSS Field Operations Manager Ater Akol Thiep visited 80 wells, including some of the earliest wells drilled in 2005.  Using a rigorously designed survey process, they inspected well platforms, tested water quality, and interviewed villagers on their well use and more.

another Well sponsored by long-time wfss supporters- New york state Garden Clubs

another Well sponsored by long-time wfss supporters- New york state Garden Clubs

The survey’s data confirmed that even the earliest WFSS wells remain in good working order and are producing clean water. The well evaluation also affirmed that our process of training villagers in well maintenance and care is key to keeping clean water flowing. Wells that did experience mechanical breakdowns were repaired in a matter of days, providing minimal interruption to clean water access. However, the survey also provided insights into overall well technical design that need improvement for longer-term sustainability. 

The current well platform and drainage design is not unique to WFSS but is common to most drilled wells in South Sudan and other developing countries. Our Operations Team has seized the opportunity to improve on this common design in order to insure longer-term sustainability of both the well itself and, perhaps most important, the quality of the water being pumped.

 

What We Learned and What’s Changing

The 2015 well visits revealed that the cement platforms around wells showed signs of erosion over time.  Such erosion can be caused by animals, constant access by large numbers of people, soil differences, water run-off and the climate’s impact. Consistency of the cement mix and application can also affect the life of the platform.

WFSS Board member angelique stevens tests water in 2015

WFSS Board member angelique stevens tests water in 2015

wfss team works on new well installation

wfss team works on new well installation

Our Operations Team began working to develop a more robust and sustainable well platform design. WFSS Board member John De Seyn traveled to several US water conferences to network and research well designs. Together with US Director of Operations and Board member Don Fairman, they worked through the summer and fall of 2015 to develop a plan for strengthening the concrete composition of the well, and the design of the platform. They determined that the channel leading from the pump to the drinking pool for animals could be lengthened from 10 to 30 feet, and instead of a concrete channel could be replaced by a steel pipe, thus eliminating the potential for concrete erosion.

Together with our South Sudan Operations Team, they also determined that enlisting the help of villagers to construct fencing around the well head would better protect the well and prevent any animal traffic near the pump or drainage channel.

Finally, in looking at the entire drilling process, our Operations Team also discovered better ways to seal the well, including refilling the borehole with dirt removed in the drilling process.  A more robust sealing process ensures that WFSS wells will continue to protect the aquifer that provides water to our wells.

“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.”

2016 Season Nearing End as Rains Begin

first clean water from new wfss well

first clean water from new wfss well

WFSS drills during the dry season, which typically runs from late November or early December until late April or early May. This year it appears that the rains are starting earlier, so our drilling team is beginning to wind down.

This season’s drilling was delayed from our usual December/January start as we finalized well redesign, tested and piloted those changes. It was further slowed by delays from suppliers.  But that didn’t stop our South Sudan team who took advantage of the delayed start time by repairing 20 wells drilled by other organizations in and around Wau, where our compound is located.

Once underway, this year’s drilling took place in three steps: drilling, finishing and sealing. The team started drilling in February, and were able to drill 16 boreholes as they awaited supplies. As of this writing the team has sealed 11 boreholes, and will begin sealing and finishing the remaining as time and weather conditions allow.

While we didn’t reach our usual number of wells drilled this season, the lessons learned, the improved well platform and drainage design which will be used by WFSS will have a significant impact on future wells, and wells we’ll retrofit with the new design and water quality protections. 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.

 

Hygiene Education Continues

wfss hygiene team helps villagers identify and improve hygiene practices

wfss hygiene team helps villagers identify and improve hygiene practices

The WFSS Hygiene Education Team, inaugurated in 2014 and led by Mathew Akuar, traveled with the drilling team to conduct hygiene assessment, education and training in each village which received a well. The team trains eight people in every village (four men and four women) who can then train others. The training process includes identifying local hygiene issues and empowering locals to determine which issues they would like to improve in their communities. As the trainees share their knowledge with others in their community, they are able to help extend the impact of clean water.

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.

 

Planning for Next Season

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.  

a new well changes everything in south sudan.

a new well changes everything in south sudan.

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.