Local Leadership Drives Results in South Sudan
WFSS began under the leadership of Salva Dut, WFSS Founder and now Executive Director for East Africa Operations. He continues to lead and inspire, along with his colleagues, Ater Akol “Lion” Thiep and Ajang Abraham “AJ” Agok. The trio are all former “Lost Boys” of Sudan who returned to their homeland from the US. Working with our new Operations Center Manager, Abraham Majur Laam, our leadership team in South Sudan is able to accomplish all that they do because they know the people, languages and customs of those we serve.
That local connection and our broad base of support enables us to help people take charge of their lives in some of the most remote villages in the world’s newest nation. Providing access to safe water and hygiene education helps develop people, and enables all, especially women and girls, to have healthier lives and brighter futures.
WFSS always works closely with villagers, involving them in every step of the process because, once they’re drilled, WFSS wells belong to the villages. Our WFSS team trains villagers to maintain the wells and do simple repairs, and also connects them to state and regional supply and repair chains for larger issues.
Thanks to the support of friends around the world, we’ve been able to drill over 260 water wells since 2005, providing access to fresh water to over a quarter million people. Since 2014 we have also been providing hygiene education in every village that gets a well. Our Hygiene Team trains eight men and eight women in each village. These trainers can then train others in identifying hygiene practices in need of improvement, and help identify hygiene solutions that will help extend the impact of clean water.
But it’s not just about the numbers. We’re also committed to having our work lead to long-term sustainability in a very poor and vulnerable country.
2016 and Beyond: Innovations and Improvements Bringing Greater Sustainability
The 2016 well drilling and hygiene education work began in February. We’re pleased to report that 10 boreholes are drilled, and each village we visited also received hygiene training. Our teams will continue drilling wells and providing hygiene education through the rest of the dry season. The drilling team was also able to repair seven other wells near the WFSS compound in Wau. This year we are also making significant progress with our focus on improving our processes to increase the quality and long-term sustainability of our water work.
In 2015, WFSS conducted our first-ever formal evaluation of wells. That work is an example of our commitment to continuously improve every aspect of what we do. Based on a large statistical sampling of water quality from WFSS wells drilled as far back as 2005, the results revealed that all of our wells were functioning and continuing to produce clean, safe water. But that’s not all we discovered. The survey found that, for these older wells, the cement platforms around the well head pumps were not holding up as well as they might. As a result, our Operations Team in the US and South Sudan has embarked on a rigorous process to improve this part of the well drilling process. The team, aided by other technical experts in hydrology and construction, researched how to improve the cement and sealing of the well, as well as the overall design for the well platform.
Our Operations Team has had to delay the start of drilling to do research, reconfigure the well platform design and finishing process, source new materials and parts, and test new procedures. Now, as more of the new materials and equipment are arriving our drilling and hygiene teams will work until the rainy season comes, which is usually the beginning of May.
For these reasons, the total number of wells drilled and activated this season may not be as high as in the last three years. But this reflects our carefully considered decision to use what we’ve learned to improve, and even innovate how wells are drilled in South Sudan. We’re confident that, based on the work we’ve done, we’re laying down an even stronger foundation for even greater results for the people we serve in the years ahead.
“Water for South Sudan has always strived for high quality processes and results,” says WFSS Board President, Glenn M. Balch, Jr. “While we always want to be serving more people, we also want to ensure that the wells we leave behind will be long-lasting and sustainable.”