2017 Season Concludes, 304 Wells Drilled Since 2005

Water for South Sudan successfully completed its 13th season this May. The organization also celebrated reaching the milestone of having drilled over 300 new wells since drilling began in 2005. Overall operations have now grown to include a new rehab team, and two hygiene teams. All worked together to continue transforming lives in South Sudan, by bringing access to clean water and providing hygiene education.

The 2017 season progressed in large measure thanks to the dedication and creativity of our South Sudan team, led by Country Director Ater Akol "Lion" Thiep and Assistant Country Director Ajang "AJ" Abraham Agok. WFSS Founder Salva Dut serves as Senior Advisor, assisting both the South Sudan team, and the US staff and WFSS Board of Directors.

While the base of our operations continues to be drilling wells, we are pleased to report that our new rehab team, led by Lion, far exceeded the goals we set this year. The team planned to repair 20 of our oldest wells in 2017; they succeeded in repairing 31. The rehab team was launched in response to the 2015 well evaluation survey which showed that a number of our oldest wells were in need of repair. While all wells were found to be working and producing clean water, the cement platforms and drainage channels showed serious signs of erosion.

Our US Operations Team worked with our South Sudan team to address these challenges. They determined that we needed to use a stronger cement, and also further improved the design of the well platform and channel to promote drainage of water away from the well. In addition, they implemented procedures to build fencing around the well to discourage traffic by people and animals over the platforms and drainage channels.

“We took a big step back and looked at everything we were doing,” said US Director of Operations Don Fairman. “We were able to greatly improve the strength of the concrete, and looking at the entire well design led to improvements that will add to the long-term sustainability of the wells.”

The design improvements were used in both new and rehabilitated wells this year, and reaction was swift and positive. Villagers were pleased to have their water sources improved so dramatically, and other NGOs also noted the improvement in the design.

The rehab team heard many stories of improved life in villages that have been using WFSS wells.

WFSS drilled a well in Alabek County, Tonj State in 2007. When the rehab team arrived to repair the well  this year they talked to a local woman named Yar about many of the improvements that she had seen in the years since. Yar noted that many diseases like Guinea worm, diarrhea, and typhoid have been reduced due to the presence of clean water in the area. She also noticed positive change in village life. Before the well was drilled, only four students attended school. Now the number has increased to 26, including nine girls. Yar further noted that improvements went beyond people: the life of domestic animals also changed positively, as there are more animals and they also have improved access to water. 

 

 

HYGIENE EDUCATION INCREASES IMPACT OF CLEAN WATER

In 2014 we launched our first hygiene education team, led by Mathew Akuar Akuar, a local South Sudanese. Mathew has overseen hygiene education, improving the content and delivery in each successive season. This year we launched a second hygiene team which traveled with our rehab team. Now villages that received wells over 10 years ago are also benefiting from improved hygiene practices.

The hygiene education program emphasizes community participation and equips villagers to identify hygiene practices in need of improvement. The team trains eight people in each village, four men and four women. Each of these trainees can then train others, thereby expanding the impact and safe usage of clean water.

UNITING FOR PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT

In 2014 WFSS began collaborating with Omaha-based Aqua-Africa on the United Peace and Development Project (UPDP). WFSS drilled two more wells for the UPDP this year, bringing the total number of wells drilled for the project to 14. The two organizations originally came together to find ways to bridge divides in South Sudan. WFSS Founder Salva Dut is from the Dinka tribe, while Aqua-Africa Founder Buey Ray Tut is from the Nuer tribe. While these two tribes have a long history of conflict in South Sudan, Salva and Buey see themselves as South Sudanese first, and wanted to find a way to work together. They developed the UPDP to bring access to clean water to different tribal areas. Salva and Buey have demonstrated a deep respect for each other, and the value of working together.

“Our dream is to make South Sudan a better place for people to live,” says Buey. “We want to show people how we can all work together to achieve this dream,” adds Salva. On the practical level, the UPDP drills wells and provides clean water, but the real impact of the partnership is the ability to overcome historical conflict and inspire peaceful resolutions, and work together for a greater good.

AS ONE SEASON ENDS, ANOTHER BEGINS     

After the season ended, the WFSS teams left the field and traveled back to our compound in Wau to begin assessing all vehicles and equipment. Salva, Lion and AJ will travel to the US for meetings with WFSS staff and board of directors in June. The timeline for the 2018 season will be developed and the logistical planning will begin.

“We have come a long way,” says Salva. “I am so grateful for the generosity of our supporters around the world.”                                                                                       

Thanks to all of our supporters who enable our work in South Sudan.

WFSS Drills 300th Well in South Sudan!

Water for South Sudan reached a significant milestone last week with the drilling of our 300th well. Starting with our first well, drilled in Founder Salva Dut's village in 2005, we have not stopped in our mission to bring access to clean water in South Sudan. Despite continuing challenges in South Sudan, our work continues, and we continue to transform lives.

Water for South Sudan's 2017 season is winding down as the end of the dry season approaches in May. Once the rainy season starts in earnest our vehicles are not able to travel through the muddy "roads" of South Sudan. Until the rains come, however, our drilling, rehab and hygiene teams will continue to reach remote, rural villages in need of clean water and hygiene education.

well sponsored by employees of hmh, publishers of a long walk to water.

well sponsored by employees of hmh, publishers of a long walk to water.

Our drilling team, led by "A.J" Agok, our Assistant Country Director, has drilled 19 new wells this season, bringing our total to over 300 wells drilled since 2005. Each new well brings greater health and stability to a village. Access to clean water means that girls and women no longer have to walk miles to gather water that is often dirty and contaminated. A well in a village can be the first step toward stability and development. Markets, schools and clinics can grow up in a village that has access to water.

Our pilot well rehabilitation team, led by WFSS Country Director Ater Thiep, has had a very successful year, going over their original goal of rehabilitating 20 of our oldest wells, and has repaired 26 wells as of April 24, 2017. The creation of the rehab team grew out of our 2015 well evaluation trip in which we were able to visit 80 of our wells. While we found that all wells were operational and producing fresh water, we also found that the cement platforms on some of the oldest wells were worn and eroded. This prompted a look at our procedures, and led to an improvement on many aspects. Our rehab team reports that villagers are very pleased with the results.

an older well, before wfss rehab's work. see below for repaired well!

an older well, before wfss rehab's work. see below for repaired well!

Both the drilling team and rehab team are using a new design this year, which includes better cement mixing for the cement platforms and animal drinking troughs. Our US Operations Team designed a long narrow drinking trough, leading away from the well head, for animals to drink. This allows villagers to get water for their animals without adding more wear and tear on the cement, and also keeps the animals away from the well head. Other NGOs in South Sudan have been interested in our new design and have given us positive feedback on its efficiency.

villagers celebrate repaired well, ensuring a future with access to fresh water

villagers celebrate repaired well, ensuring a future with access to fresh water

In addition to drilling and rehab, we now have two hygiene education teams, one each traveling with the drilling and rehab teams, helping to improve hygiene practices in every village we visit.

WFSS strives to involve community members, and give local ownership in everything we do. Wells are installed after consulting with county officials, and village elders determine final placement of the wells. Hygiene education addresses the specific needs of a village, training four men and four women in each village. These villagers can then train others, helping to share education which improve health, hygiene, and the impact of clean water.

The 2017 season will be coming to a close soon. Once this season ends we will debrief with our team and begin plans for the next season.

South Sudan faces many challenges, but our teams are safe and able to do their work. We are in continual contact with them and are always assessing the safety and security both in the country, and in the areas in which we work. Our team assures us that our work can continue. 

Water for South Sudan thanks all of our supporters, across the US and around the world, who enable our work.

More Fresh Water Flowing in South Sudan as 2017 Season Continues

the third well of the season was sponsored by lewis m. myers elementary school in bellwood, pa.

the third well of the season was sponsored by lewis m. myers elementary school in bellwood, pa.

The 2017 drilling season continues as WFSS helps bring access to fresh water and hygiene education in South Sudan.

The drilling team, led by Ajang "AJ" Agok, has now drilled eight wells. This year they are focusing on providing water for schools, with plans to drill up to 40 new wells.

Our rehab team, led by Ater "Lion" Thiep, has already repaired ten of our oldest wells. This pilot project was driven by our 2015 evaluation of wells which showed that older cement platforms were in need of repair. We have strengthened our cement mixing process and improved the design of the platform, and the channel that leads from the well head to the drinking pool for animals. They plan to repair up to 20 of our older wells, and then may be able to join the drilling team to help them reach their targeted number of wells.

Traveling alongside each of these teams is a hygiene education team which helps villagers improve hygiene practices. The WFSS teams train eight trainers (four men and four women) in each village who then can train others. The educators teach about how germs spread, how to keep water containers clean, and also help to identify hygiene behaviors in need of improvement, all of which help to expand the impact of clean water.

The 2017 got off to a later start than usual, but crews are working hard to make our goals for the season. The WFSS teams continue to monitor the situation in South Sudan, and are in constant contact with our board and staff in Rochester, New York. The team has assured us of their safety, and report that they are able to conduct operations without impediment.

WFSS team members in South Sudan are in contact with local NGOs in Wau, home of our operations center, and continue to explore ways in which we can work with other NGOs in the area. We will continue discussions and possibilities to be of help in refugee camps for IDPs (internally displaced persons) in the area.

The entire WFSS organization is committed to the future of South Sudan, and supports all efforts to resolve conflict and bring peace to this young country.

Photos from start of 2017 season

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.