A basic need, a human right
South Sudan’s environment is starkly beautiful but harsh. It has just two seasons: one dramatically wet, the other dry. Daily temperatures often rise above 120°F during both seasons. During the rainy season, water is plentiful for villagers, their crops and their animals. But during the annual six-month dry season, life changes for the worst.
People are dying from water in remote villages of South Sudan
During the November-to-May dry season, most sources of surface water dry up. This forces millions of South Sudanese each year to leave their village homes in search for water. Some have to abandon their homes and move all together while others, usually, women and children, are forced to trek miles every day to collect water from ponds, marshes, ditches, or hand-dug wells. This water is often contaminated with disease-causing parasites and bacteria. The results are pain, sickness, even death, especially among infants and children.
A constant search to satisfy a basic need
Villagers have no choice about what they drink. Water, however tainted, is needed to live. Villagers must relocate during the dry season to be near water sources. Only with the arrival of the next wet season can people return to their homes. This annual hunt for water prevents villages from building stable, basic infrastructure such as schools, markets, and medical clinics. Even when villages are able to build clinics or schools, the buildings can stay empty for up to six months year because the dry season forces villagers to find water.
Walking hot, dusty miles to satisfy thirst
When women and children are forced to walk up to eight hours a day for water, they are unable to do anything else. This demanding, time-intensive regimen makes getting an education difficult if not impossible. This is why most children and especially women in South Sudan do not even have an elementary education.