As the world marks the one-year anniversary of conflict in South Sudan, Water for South Sudan, Inc. and Aqua-Africa, two US-based nonprofits, are working together to bring clean water to remote villages in South Sudan. The organizations are each led by dual US-South Sudanese citizens of different tribal heritages. They are working together not as tribal members, but as South Sudanese, united to transform the lives of their fellow citizens, and to bring peace to this young nation through development.
Salva Dut, a former “Lost Boy” of Sudan and founder of Water for South Sudan (WFSS) and Buey Ray Tut, born in what was then Southern Sudan and founder of Aqua-Africa (A-A), both became US citizens and founders of US nonprofits working in South Sudan. They are also from different tribes, which have a history of conflict.
Salva and Buey, and their organizations, have come together to drill water wells in South Sudan, and show, by their partnership, how to work together to make a difference and build a nation. The joint project is called The United Peace and Development Project (UPDP). The first four wells were drilled in February and March of this year. Three more wells will be drilled this month, and an additional three will be drilled in March of 2015. Wells are being installed in both Dinka and Nuer territory.
“We are dedicated to our nation,” says Buey, who is from the Nuer tribe. “We are trying to make our country a better place.” Salva, from the Dinka tribe, agrees. “We need peace in our country,” says Salva. “We want to show people how we can all work together.”
Both nonprofits work to bring clean water to people who often walk miles each day to gather water that is often dirty and diseased. Water for South Sudan has drilled 218 wells since 2005, serving over 500,000 people. WFSS works with local villages to determine need and placement of wells, and trains villagers to use and maintain the well that becomes the property of the village. WFSS is supported by donors in all 50 US States and 18 foreign countries.
Aqua-Africa, established in 2008, partners with local drilling contractors to drill water wells, and also conducts workshops in resource management to help local villages manage their water supply. Aqua-Africa has drilled 10 wells to date, serving 8,000 people.
South Sudan, which became independent from the Republic of Sudan in July, 2011 is the world’s newest nation. It has seen renewed violence since December, 2013, with unrest that has stirred up old rivalries between different tribes. Peace talks in South Sudan are ongoing, supported by the UN and neighboring nations.